Tag Archives: answers

How I Got A Criminal Record

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I commit crimes all the time.

I have always fancied myself as a criminal. Obviously, I am not actually a criminal; the thought of spending more than two months in jail cell makes me internally freak out. Despite my fear of prison (every time I drop the soap in the shower, I shudder slightly) I’ve spent my whole life considering the different crimes I would commit if I wasn’t a Christian.. There are quite a few. Fortunately, Jesus saves and as long as I follow Him, I shouldn’t find myself on the inside any time soon.

Despite not being on the inside in reality, there are moments where I commit crimes. None of them are particularly heinous; they are mostly petty crimes, but they all look to the same to my judge. Let’s call these crimes sins. God is my judge and He can see every single thing that I do; He is privy to the good things, the bad things, and the things that I am too ashamed to tell even my closest friends. It’s quite unfortunate that the being I love most sees the worst things that I do and takes them very personally because this means that at some point in every week, I am filled with mild to intense feelings of guilt.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

I understand why Adam hid from God. Although Adam knew the solution to his problems resided in God, he hid anyway. It was the shame, the guilt, the knowledge that he had done the very thing he had sworn he would never do that made him hide. I understand why Adam hid because I’ve hidden too; I have experienced the Adam moment. I have experienced that moment where God expresses (through His word) that he requires me to live a certain way. I have experienced that moment where I realise that what I want to do and what God requires from me are in constant conflict. I have experienced that moment where I choose the thing God hates in order to satisfy whatever whim or desire I have. Oh, and I despise it. I hate the fact when I am given the choice between choosing God or choosing myself, 40% 60% of the time, I choose myself. It’s not just the disappointing God factor that annoys me; it’s the fact that I lose. I say I won’t do something, I declare that I am free from whatever potential crime I am being tempted by and then the next moment, I’m committing the crime, wondering if God still loves me.

I hate to lose. I am winner. I am competitive and this Christian walk often feels like a battle I can’t win. I am tired of falling at the first, second, third and fourth hurdle. Last week I decided that I wasn’t cut out for this Christian life. I told Jesus that although I loved him dearly, I was never going to be able to be who He wanted me to be, no matter how hard I tried. I said I was sorry for wasting his time but our love story was to come to an end because I was tired of always being the one in the relationship that always messed up.

Just as I was throwing in the towel, I realised:

1) God knows that I’m going to get it wrong.

This journey isn’t about being perfect, it is about striving for perfection, striding towards God and having a heart that longs to do right by Him. That guilt you feel is awful but at least you feel it, you are not so far away from God that you do not react when you fall out of line. Instead you are contrite, you are disappointed and you want to do better. This is good. It means you care; it means there is hope.

2) I cannot do this alone.

I was right when I said to God I couldn’t do it. I can’t.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

His power is made perfect in my weakness and when I am at the end of myself, that is when God can truly begin. I am not alone in this, Jesus is praying for me (John 17:9) and standing in the gaps, interceding for me (Hebrews 7:25).

3) God does not dwell my past crimes.

I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again

Isaiah 43:25

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:22

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

Jeremiah 31:34

I don’t usually include this many verses but I really want to reinforce and evidence my final point. I don’t have a criminal record because of the grace of God and because of the greatest act of love known to man: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After you’ve apologised, let that thing go; it is in the past. Don’t dwell on it, don’t ruminate and don’t let it stop you from getting back again and running with Jesus.

All my love beautiful people,

Joy xxxxxxxxxx

They Say He Will Either End Up Dead Or In Prison

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I had the perfect blogpost to write, one that would have probably gotten us more hits than usual and may have even given us the exposure I often dream of. But this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvo620cGMyw has moved me to the point that I can’t help but share a real moment with you, one that I experienced this week, a moment that I will never forget.

My profession isn’t the most glamorous. I am not a lawyer, an investment banker or any of those professions that cause people to raise their eyebrows and look upon you with a newfound respect. The nature of my job means that I can, at times, feel insignificant and ignored. The moments where I feel like I have a purpose in the workplace are fleeting and infrequent. Getting out of bed each morning an be difficult because I question whether my absence will have any real impact.

There was a boy who gave my Wednesdays meaning. Not just my Wednesdays, but my presence at work somehow felt validated because of the difference I knew I could make in his life. He was the reason I made the journey, the reason I didn’t quit despite feeling as though I was slowly becoming part of the wallpaper.

This week, he got expelled and the news broke me. It broke me because hearing statistics about Black males in Britain and seeing these statistics play out in real time are two completely different experiences. I see their short-sightedness, their anger at a system they don’t yet understand but they know has been designed to cripple them, their inability to articulate their experience in a way that ensures they are respected, their desire to affirm their masculinity, and how this works in tandem with their brilliance, their confidence and their charm.

It broke me because I always knew deep down where he was going to end up if he wasn’t in school. I was always afraid. Later that night, I cried out to God on his behalf for the first time. I wonder why it took me so long to pray for him despite being aware of his issues. Maybe if I had prayed earlier, things would have panned out differently.

He was there one day and gone the next.

His friends make jokes. “He will probably end up killing someone or in prison” they say and I pray that they are wrong. I pray that even though I can’t reach him, the God I serve will remember him.  I hope he remembers the times I told him that he was brilliant; I hope he recalls the times I marvelled at his mind. I hope he defies the odds and ends up in the places I know he secretly dreams he can go. I hope he remembers that he can get there.

I have to believe that God will place someone else in his life that cares enough to pray for him and to guide him away from what appears to be the inevitable. A lot of these boys don’t get out: they just become statistics. You read about them but you don’t know them.

But I knew him.

I know him.

I wonder if he knows the impact he has had on me, that I am changed because of him, that he has not only fuelled my desire to remain in this profession but has also made me realise that I can only stay in it for so long.

He probably doesn’t; he knows he is special but often underestimates how special he really is.

From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 16:2

Though I feel disheartened, I will continue to pray because right now, that’s all I can do.

Joy

The Day I Got Over My Break Up

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Although I wrote the piece below entitled ‘just.light’ late last year, every time I read it I remember the profound moment of clarity I felt as the Light finally overshadowed everything that I had been through.

God doesn’t always take away our pain, He often allows us to live through in it in order to reveal part of ourselves – hidden strengths, unspoken weaknesses, unresolved issues. He also uses painful experiences to reveal aspects of His person that we may not have experienced before – His peace, His faithfulness, His heart.

You may be going through a dark season at the moment, praying every day for God to take your pain away. Remember that every day you are being made stronger and a greater plan is at work which will one day make this process make sense; better days are ahead.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

just.light.

Today I drove around a foreign land, I took in the landscapes and the beauty I had the opportunity to behold blew me away. I was in awe and mentally brought to my knees as I once again realised the beauty life had to offer. There is beauty all around us. In every moment of every day, I feel there is something beautiful to be found. Sometimes we have to look a little harder and push ourselves deeper in order to find the beauty, but it is there. In the silence, in the tapping of rain, in the roar of the wind, in the moving clouds, there lies beauty. Despite beauty being ever-present, what lies within us can act sometimes act as a mist and cloud our vision. For me, heartache did just that.

Although the words heartbreak and heartache are used interchangeably, they have come to mean different things to me. While I experienced heartbreak the moment that my relationship finally ended, heartache is what I experienced in the months that followed. The what ifs, the whys, the why nots made my heart burn and yearn for a time where my emotions didn’t suffocate me. The moments I would often replay in my mind had the capacity to make my heart swell until it felt too big for my body; the hurt would go as rapidly as it came but the overwhelming sense of sadness would stay. You see, there is no future in the heartache season, there is only here, now and then. The future ceases to have any real meaning, hope no longer exists and every day tasks such as getting out of bed become insurmountable.

heart. ache.

Then one day, that hollow feeling I had become accustomed to faded. The darkness that overshadowed every moment of light the previous months had offered me finally lifted. I woke up and the heartache had passed. And I finally began to breathe. I wasn’t numb anymore; I could feel. People don’t tell you enough how hard breakups are. They are horrible. You feel like you’re going to die. But then you don’t. You feel as though you are suffocating for most of the day and drowning at night and yet you still wake up the next morning. You wonder if you’re ever going feel to peace and have joy in your heart again.

And then it comes. He stops crossing your mind. You stop replaying the moments you shared. And you breathe.

In. Out. In. Out.

You try to capture every moment by inhaling them because you never thought you would be able to feel again. You want to capture everything because you’ve felt so much pain that even the way you appreciate beautiful moments has been transformed. You breathe them in because there were times you couldn’t breathe at all without crying.

Today I drove around a foreign land. I saw Cyprus. I saw the beauty. No mist, no clouds, no darkness. Just light.

just. light.

Why You Keep Lying On Facebook

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In my Sunday School class, the question was once asked:

 If a man held a gun to your head and asked you if you were a Christian, what would you say?

 Now, of course the “right” answer was to scream “I LOVE YOU JESUS” and suffer the unspeakable consequences but over a decade has passed and I’m still yet to decide what I’d do simply because I never really show up in moments of panic, I freeze and scream internally until the moment of panic passes. Also, I believe that hypothetical responses are rarely indicative of what one will do when faced with the situation. This question came to mind this morning and although I still do not have an answer, it always causes me to think more deeply about life, what I am willing to die for and more importantly, what I am living for.

“They say ‘you only live once’ but what are you living for?”

I let my Mum use my Facebook yesterday and it was fascinating watching her read through my newsfeed; she could not understand why the people I knew felt comfortable sharing such intimate moments of their lives online. When she asked me why, the cynic within me arose:

“Mum, people want to show other people how happy and content they are, even if that means giving 500+ people access to the most sacred moments life offers.”

As I was saying this, I realised that most of us are living for the applause. We are living for the ‘likes’, the moments where others validate our actions. We carefully choose what we will reveal online in order to create what we feel will be the perfect image. Underneath the façade lies the real; the real moments of pain, confusion, frustration, anger, happiness and joy.

Although we cannot pick and choose the moments that God sees, we act as though He isn’t watching 24/7. We spend more time choosing filters on Instagram than filtering out the negative parts of lives and we spend more time controlling the way others view us than we do allowing God to take control and fix the broken parts of our lives – the parts that aren’t picturesque enough for the online world.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Hebrews 4:13

One of things I enjoy most about being a Christian is the fact that I am forced to have honest conversations with God. I can’t lie and I can’t pretend that everything is okay when it isn’t. He sees right through the façade because He sees all. When I have no words to say, He still hears the pain I feel or the joy I don’t know how to express.

God sees.

My challenge to you today is to live each moment in light of the fact that God sees. I don’t want you to think of Him as a judgemental, domineering presence which seeks to dictate your every action and can’t wait to punish you, but as a loving Father (Isaiah 64:8), who is interested, concerned (Luke 12:7) and full of love for you (1 John 3:1).

Lots of my love & Happy Wednesday!!

Joy xxxxxx

What To Do When You’re Falling Apart

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At the moment, I’m getting into the Old Testament (OT) – the part of the Bible most young Christians tend to avoid – not because we don’t want to read it, of course, but because it just feels a bit intense and at times, confusing. The New Testament (NT) feels a lot easier to get through, right? It can at times feel like an action movie with the star of the film being our main man Jesus Christ who just keeps doing and saying amazing things.

 Boom! Born in a manger

Boom! Doing Miracles

Boom! Dying on a cross

BOOM! RISING FROM THE DEAD

Such a page turner, right? And of course, once you become a Christian, you’re given the little red NT Bible so most of us just sit with the last 27 books and neglect all the other books. After years of being content with the NT alone, I decided to begin right at the beginning of the Bible. I have just finished reading Joshua and let’s just say it’s been quite the journey.

God delivered  the Israelites out of the Egypt but instead of allowing them to enter the Promise Land instantaneously, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of their disobedience and distrust. The Israelites had no real idea where they were going; there had been ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations. The very thing they hoped would come to pass had been severely delayed.

Eventually, the Israelites reached the land God promised them and in Joshua 22, Joshua their new leader, gave some of the tribes some sound advice:

But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold fast to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

Joshua 22:5

On the day I read this, I was having trouble holding onto God because I had so many other things in my hands. It had been a whirlwind week, full of moments where things had failed to come together in the way I hoped they would. I wanted to throw myself into my emotions and hibernate under my quilt. Thankfully, this scripture caught me as I was falling apart and caused me to question my response to what most would consider one of the usual setbacks of life.

When we are falling apart that is when we should hold tighter onto God – we shouldn’t let him go because of our emotions.

When everything is going wrong – fall apart hold fast

When things aren’t going your way – fall apart hold fast

When you’re not sure what to do next – fall apart hold fast

When you put all your hope into something and it doesn’t come together –fall apart hold fast

Hold fast to God, He is all we have.

Joy xx

My Dad Was A Pastor…I Was An Atheist

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My Dad was ordained as a Pastor the year I was born so my earliest memories are of him preaching to hundreds of people about the grace of God and the love of Jesus Christ. I have grown up watching him teach, preach and do his best to share the love of Jesus with everyone he comes into contact with. I could honestly write this whole post about how great my Dad is because he is my hero; he was the first person who showed me what Jesus could potentially look like and through his love and instantaneous forgiveness no matter what I did (and I’ve done some pretty bad things) I grew up having a firm understanding of the love of Jesus Christ.  Love you Dad! (He doesn’t read my blog so won’t even see this mushy introduction – awkward.)

Despite his consistency, relentless pursuit of God and being a model Christian, my questions regarding our faith in God began around the age of 13. “Daddy, how do you know Jesus is real?” “Daddy, are you sure?” were questions I would ask him regularly. I was in church every week and I was half listening to the preaching and although at times it made sense, there was one underlying obstacle that I kept encountering: How do we know that this is real? How do we know that God even exists? This could all be a lie! I would look around my church while everyone else was worshipping and often feel isolated and lost because everyone was ‘in the spirit’ but me. If I kept missing this spirit, how could it really exist?

My questions continued to grow and the fear that I was believing a really amazing fairytale became greater than my faith. I asked those around me what their thoughts were on Jesus and I got unhelpful and opaque answers:

Me: how do you know Jesus is real?

Friend: He just is!

Me: I’m sorry, what? How does that help me?

Friend: You just have to believe

Me: SORRY, CAN’T YOU HEAR ME? THAT IS THE PART I’M HAVING TROUBLE WITH

My heart grew cold, I switched off during the service and my life stopped reflecting the Christ that I once believed to be true. It was as though this belief in Christ was a club that I just couldn’t join. I wanted so desperately to believe but I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t see so I simply stopped believing all together.

I don’t know when exactly my belief in God returned. I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly have all the answers I had searched for during my teenage years. All I remember having were pockets of faith here and there, prayers now and again and life shaking events that brought me to my knees and caused me to run back my default setting – belief in a higher power. There was a need to believe that my pain would one day make sense and that it could not last forever; that need kept me searching. Although I actively sought all the answers to the questions I once had, one day I had to accept that I would never obtain the answers that I longed for.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them,“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Mark 10:15

Children aren’t cynical, they ask questions to gain knowledge and to increase their understanding, not to disprove your argument. This scripture says that we have to become like them. Children ask questions but more easily accept the response; there is no pride, just innocence and a willingness to trust that what is being said is true. When they are told that the answer may be beyond them or the answer is yet to be discovered, they accept that too. I had placed my own limitations on God – he couldn’t do the things the Bible said he had done simply because I couldn’t imagine them happening and because I could not conceive them in my own mind, they simply couldn’t be true. But to be honest there are many things I cannot imagine that happen all around the world every single day and my disbelief or ignorance doesn’t make these occurrences any less real.

The honest answer to the question “how do you know that God exists?” is that I will never truly know. I will never be 100% sure that God exists because I have never met him face-to-face in the way that I’ve met other humans. I have, however, had very real, life-changing encounters with him and I can only point you to the broken person I used to be and show you who I have become in the hope that you will see and believe in him also. People from my past don’t recognise who I am now and at times, I don’t either. I am different because of him.

To the Christian having trouble explaining to people why you believe in a God that you cannot see but can only feel, I implore you to connect people with your experiences with God, not just your faith in him. Sometimes as Christians we want to show people the finished product but we don’t want them to see  the wounds that lie underneath our clothes which speak of the battles we had to face in order to become the person the world now sees. Our scars are important and our stories make our faith make sense to someone who simply cannot fathom the depths of our belief. My story speaks of car crashes, heartbreak and hours in A&E wondering if I was going to live or die -and that’s only the last four years! You may not believe that your story is dramatic or glamorous enough, and it may not be the rags-to-riches story-stand-up-on-the pulpit-and-everyone-cries-because-you’re-such-an-overcomer type of story but it is yours. Your story is the reason you have faith so be brave enough to share it and be strong enough to keep believing despite the questions you may still have. We will always have questions but the beauty of God is that he can handle them.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xxxxx

The Day I Fell Off A Cliff

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On the 13th June I took my last ever undergraduate exam and simultaneously made the transition from student to graduate. For those who can relate to the seemingly upward hill struggle that encapsulates undergoing a degree, what comes next is only comparable to free fall. It’s somewhat surreal and yet exhilarating, a rush of excitement as you realise that you never have to take an exam again and a gulp of fear at the thought of having to plan your own future and shape your own destiny. The world is (to some extent) your oyster. As I look back on uni, the highs, the lows, and the in-between series watching and procrastination I am stunned at where God has brought me, and quite frankly who I’ve become.
I’ll give you some back story. When I started Uni I was an aspiring actress with my eyes set on the prize. After years of part-time training and auditions, getting through Uni was the final hurdle that once overcome, would allow me to push for an acting career with full force. Now, as I look towards the expanse of summer months, I’m waiting with baited breath for my banking grad scheme to start in September. Daniela doing a 9-5?! Who would have thought it? Definitely not me! The girl who enrolled in LSE in October 2011 is definitely not the same girl staring back at me in the mirror. Below are the bits and bobs that clumped together and resulted in the woman that writes this post. (Yuck I just called myself a woman, since when did I stop being a little girl who thought there was nothing she couldn’t achieve?!)

I learnt sooooooo much whilst at uni: here are the 3 things my degree didn’t teach me.

1) No man is an island
If you have any preconceptions about the kind of people that go to Russell Group Universities you can rest assure that I had the same ones. I’ve never considered myself to be extremely academic, and matched with my complete disinterest with current affairs, I took it for granted that I’d actually have anything to say to my classmates. I was so wrong. I had convinced myself that I could go through the whole 3 years without making any friends but looking back I don’t know what I’d have done without them. I’m so blessed to have been surrounded with people who hungered after God also, and the bible studies we shared and prayer sessions we conducted carried me through University. I can’t tell you the benefits of being able to tell someone about your problem and their first solution is prayer, but believe me they are plentiful. So often in our walks with Christ we don’t feel like we can completely be ourselves, but having people around you to reaffirm your faith is priceless. Some people think the fact that Jesus jammed (jammed=hung out) with sinners means it’s not necessary to have  Christian friends but don’t forget that the first thing Jesus did was choose his 12 disciples. I’m not saying Christians make better friends but having Christian friends can help you to become a better Christian.

As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend

Proverbs 27:17

2) You have to lean to deal with disappointment
First year was a struggle. Most of the pain was self-induced and stemmed from my lack of motivation for the discipline I was studying, but revision season was by far the biggest mountain of the bunch. I don’t think I’ve ever revised as hard in my life as I did in those 10 weeks before exams started. ‘Night shift, day shift, and every hour under the sun shift’ is the best descriptor of my revision timetable. I sacrificed my long-time lover (sleep) in exchange for hours on end with my nose deep in a book from the never-ending reading list. All that work only to scrape a pass. I remember opening my results and being hit with an overwhelming sense of disappointment as it sunk it that I wasn’t the high achieving student I’d always been.

Too often, when things don’t go the way we planned and we’re ready to give up on God in a heartbeat. Even if God promised you the very thing you haven’t received, you have no excuse to turn your back on your Saviour. Your journey with Christ isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you’re going to give up every time things don’t go your way, you aren’t going to get very far.

3) God orders your steps
When I was 18 I decided I was going to get ‘plans are made but our steps are ordered’ tattooed on my ribcage. I’m yet to get said tattoo but I can’t profess how much truth is in the scripture that my tatt is based upon. If anyone had told me that I’d give up acting I would have told them to stop cursing me with their negativity and block out the rest of their spiel. Now when people hear that I’m going to work in a bank they think ‘typical lse-er’ or ‘you’re one of those money-hungry types’ but they couldn’t have gotten me more wrong. I’ll tell you more about giving up the dream in a future post, but what I will say now is that, unless God has said it, it isn’t certain, and even when he has spoken, he can change his mind. I’m not saying that God randomly gives us instructions then completely redirects the courses of our lives, just for fun, but that lots of things last only for a season. Don’t ever get so set on something that when God is saying something new, you don’t want to listen.

A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Many times God won’t force his will on you, but when disobedience has landed people in the belly of whales, I think letting God lead the way seems like the wise option.


I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have made it. There were times where I thought I wasn’t capable and other times when I didn’t even want to try but God has had his way. To my everlasting father, I just want to say: thank you. You can learn a lot from your degree but nothing is worth learning without Christ.

Hugs and kisses,

Dani xxxxxxx

That Time I Wore An Invisibility Cloak To A House Party

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I loved Harry Potter growing up. Despite Mum telling me that witchcraft was real and I was frolicking with darkness, I devoured those books in secret, loving the places that the author allowed me to go. In my heart, I became Harriet Potty, Harry’s black adopted sister who was facing a similar fate to Harry. I waited for my letter of invitation to Hogwarts for many years; I waited, hoped and hoped some more but nothing ever came. I was devastated. For some reason I wasn’t eligible for this amazing school of witchcraft and wizardry (in hindsight, I thank God that I wasn’t) and I was forced to live life as a muggle with no special powers. If someone had told me back then that one day I would have the opportunity to wear an invisibility cloak (like the one Harry had), I would have cried tears of joy. Yeah, I’m not the coolest person. 

The first time I wore Harry’s invisibility cloak I was 18 years old, walking around Fresher’s Fair, hungover from the night before. The room was loud and obnoxious to my fragile ears and eyes and it was then, as I walked around the room crossing the paths of hundreds of people, that I felt like no one could see me. The noise and the loneliness finally overwhelmed me and I ran back to the safety of my room, where the loneliness could feel more like a choice than a bullish reality. From that day, the invisibility cloak was no longer Harry’s, it was mine and it became part of my being; not a part I loved but a part that I accepted. I never willingly put it on but after a few attempts of trying and failing to be seen, I stopped trying to take it off and let it merge with my being. I became smaller, fragile and timid.

University, for me, was the biggest hype of LIFE, the biggest hype known to man, known to beast, known to every single living thing. Adults and recent graduates told me all sort of folk tales about their university experience:

You will LOVE it, they said.

You will meet your lifelong friends, they said.

You will meet the love your life, they said.

You will never want to leave, they said.

I experienced none of the above.

University was a trying experience, a time of painful growth and acknowledgment of my flaws. Although it was necessary, I did not enjoy it. You see, in that very first year of university, I wanted to be seen because at that time in my life, being seen would have meant feeling alive, and this was a feeling that often eluded me during this time.

One night I was at a house party (it was really just a boring gathering in a house which was located in the middle of nowhere – I really wish people would label their events correctly: rave is different from house party which is different from gathering; I am too tired of this false promotion), insecure, sad, lonely, and once again wearing my invisibility cloak. I couldn’t seem to take it off, people just kept walking past me. I spent the night in the corner of the room on a chair, with my friend (who had friends there) every so often remembering that I was her +1 and asking me if I was okay. Every time I lied and said I was; I was lonely and on the brink of tears, but I still had my pride! Needless to say, that night goes down as one of the worst house parties I have ever attended.

Later that night, my friend and I got lost (yes, the night got worse) and we wandered around Manchester at 3.am (don’t tell my mum!), looking for a cab, a bus stop or a friendly stranger who could point us in the right direction, which was of course unlikely given the time. With nothing left to do but walk and talk, we began to share our problems and fears with each other in a way that we had not done before. We both fought back tears that night as we told each other how miserable, invisible and alone we felt every single day. Despite knowing deep down that we had so much to give and so much to offer the world, we only felt small and insignificant.

All I wanted that night was to be seen, to be spoken to and to be acknowledged. To this day I can still remember that painful feeling of loneliness and literally counting down the hours until I could be at home in my bed, crying to my then boyfriend about how horrible my life was (notice I wasn’t crying to God about this invisibility problem – this was definitely part of the problem). I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking “look at these first world problems, girl you should have just spoken to someone!” To be honest, I wish I had been brave enough to. But then, if I had, I wouldn’t be sharing this story.

Some of you are wondering whether this post will tell you if I finally took off my invisibility cloak; it does, keep reading!

The next year I gave my life to Christ and began my pursuit of him. God began to break me apart in order to build me back up again. He had to break me apart first because there were deep-rooted lies I believed about my worth and my significance and those lies couldn’t co-exist with his love and belief in me. One day I was reading my Bible and I came across this verse:

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

John 1:48

Before Philip called Nathanael, before Nathanael knew who Jesus was, Jesus saw him. Jesus had his eye on him, Jesus was interested in him and Jesus had already chosen him. Jesus saw him. As I read this scripture, the penny dropped: Jesus sees me too.

When everyone in the room is talking and I’m being ignored, Jesus sees me.

On the days where I don’t feel good enough, Jesus sees me.

On the days when I do not feel as though I can compete, Jesus sees me.

On the days where I only feel anxious and unsure of myself, Jesus sees me.

I am seen.

The good, the bad, and the things I hide from other people because I fear I will be judged are all seen by Jesus and yet he still wants to know me. This truth helped me to take off my invisibility cloak. It wasn’t some great big reveal, it was a slow and painful process where Jesus took it the cloak apart piece by piece until suddenly, I could see myself the way he did.

So to you, reader, the one that feels invisible, as though you don’t matter. You do.

To you, feeling overlooked, you are seen.

To you, in pain, you are seen.

To you, overwhelmed, you are seen.

To you, invisible, you are seen.

To you, insecure, you are seen.

Jesus thinks you’re enough. He loves you. He sees you.

All my love,

Joy x

P.s: I have included a song which I used to sing  and wish could be my reality. Now it is and I thank God. Hope it helps you too xx

What I Learnt: Hallowed Be Thy Names

hallowed-be-thy-names-david-wilkerson

 

Why I chose this book

I was quite excited to read this book because I hoped that it would positively impact my prayer life. There are times where I just want to praise God for who he is and remind him of all his amazing attributes and…well, I can’t, simply because I don’t know enough of them. Does anyone else ever run out of things to say?

I also think it is important to remind God of who he is (not because he forgets) but because it increases our faith and belief, especially in times of great difficulty.

5 things I learnt 

1. Know God

We can know someone’s name and have very little knowledge about who they are. Some of us claim to be Christians but know God on a very basic level and are yet to explore what the Bible says about his nature, his characteristics and his personality. I think a lack of understanding concerning the character of God can have harmful consequences such as stunted growth and limited expectations of him.

If we do not know that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, what will we do when we are in times of financial difficulty? Will we call upon God and remind of who he is or will we crumble under the financial weight? If we do not know that God is El Shaddai (all-sufficient), how we will ever shift our focus from our own weakness, powerlessness and failures, to his ability to keep us, teach us and make a way for us in the wilderness?

I think this book once again highlighted the necessity of reading the Bible every single day and being in relentless pursuit of God. At the beginning of my relationship with God, a prayer a day was absolutely fine but that is no longer sufficient given the time that has passed. If you are still where you were when you first started your journey with God, I think it is perhaps time to reflect on what you actually desire from your relationship with him and what he desires from you. Every day is an opportunity for growth and we shouldn’t let these opportunities pass us by.

2. Problems can be good for you

It is only in the past year that I have come to appreciate the problems and trials that I face. Being a Christian doesn’t excuse me from life’s pains but it does give me access to an amazing pain-reliever. When we look back on our lives in years to come, our most remembered moments will be the ones of pain, the moments where we felt like we had nothing more to give but managed to somehow survive. Hallowed Be Thy Names continuously reminds the reader that it is in the most difficult and trying times of our lives that God gives us a revelation about who he is and a fresh view of his character and power towards us. In order to overcome the challenges we face in our lives, we have to have a deep-rooted belief that our steps are ordered, leaving no room for accidents, good/bad luck and coincidences; everything happens for a reason and ultimately for our good.

3. Are you angry with God?

Some of you are angry with God in this very moment and this anger is linked to moment in your past where you feel God failed you.

God, you said you were going to help me but all I felt was loneliness

God, you said you keep my loved ones safe, but the person I loved the most died

God, you said no weapon formed against me would prosper and yet every single day I wake up sick

You wanted God to come through for you but he didn’t. He let those bad things happen to you and knowledge of this constantly overrides your love for him and your desire to seek him. Whenever you begin to get comfortable with God you remind yourself of that intense pain he failed to shield you from, retract and question his existence all over again. All you can think is “well you let THIS happen” and “where were YOU when I felt like this”.

It wasn’t until I read this that I realised that I also had some issues with God. I had to admit those issues God and ask him where he had been during some of the hardest times in my life. I can’t tell you where He was during your storm but as I looked back on those hard and dark years, I realised that God was there. Even though I felt isolated and alone during those years, the fact that I am still standing today, free from the issues that once held me captive, is evidence of God’s love and presence. He didn’t leave then and come back a few years later; he was always there.

4. It is not enough to just acknowledge your sins

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23

I sin. You sin. We sin.

But are we still moved by our sins? Have we become desensitised to the magnitude of our actions? Yes, we cry out to God and repent but the very next day, we are back to the very thing we asked God to save us from. How genuine is our cry of repentance if we return to the sin? The more we engage with the sin, the less convicted we will feel and eventually it will feel as though the sin isn’t even ‘that bad’. If we hold onto our sin we will eventually forsake God and be given over to our lusts. God will send warnings but eventually we will move so far away that we will no longer be able to hear his voice. We need to daily cut sin away from our lives and fight the desire to do that which we know is wrong.

5. Grace over wrath

The wrath of God isn’t as fun to talk about as the love of God, is it? As Christians, when we fail to speak about the wrath of God, it’s like giving the listener the best ice cream in the world but not warning them about brain freeze. We want to sell them his love but not warn them of his wrath; in doing so we fail to fully encapsulate the nature of God.

God is merciful, kind, patient, compassionate, full of love and grace

BUT

God is also holy, just, pure, severe, unchangeable, a despiser of sin and no respecter of persons.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them

Romans 1:18-19

 

Would I read the book again?

To be honest, I wouldn’t. I do love how much I am learning as Dani and I go through books and write about them and I am finding that each book has something to offer. This book I felt had too much opinion and I found the author quite conservative.  Despite this, it increased my desire to learn more about the nature of God and I will be reading more about this subject in the weeks ahead.

Lots of loving,

J xxxx

 

Why My Relationship Failed

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Do you remember your first crush/relationship? I had so many obsessions and crushes growing up – I was an expert in unrequited love and imaginary boyfriends. I do, however, remember my first intense crush.

Let’s call him Tim.

All Tim and I had really had was the five-day pass but that was enough. We were falling asleep on the phone every night because we had unlimited calls to all T-mobile users for five days only, texting throughout the day (because those were unlimited too) and going on dates (okay, I lied, I think we went on one date). It was beautiful; we just couldn’t get enough of each other, it was that obsessive, all-consuming, intoxicating, I-cant-even-see-the-sun-because-all-I-can-see-is-you type of love infatuation.

Although our genesis was bliss, even at my tender age, I could feel when things were becoming rocky and when my fingertips were merely holding onto the cracks in our (infantile) foundation. Now, my 22-year-old self, an infrequent (yet loyal) user of the heartbreak hotel, can look back say that although the first few months were bliss, they were in no way an accurate indication of the relationship we were going to have.

So let me cut to the nitty-gritty; let’s talk about why my relationship failed.

Disclaimer: the below may or may not be entirely true of Tim and I’s relationship.

 

1) Complacency

The best parts of any relationship are the opening months, otherwise known as the honeymoon phase, because each individual is being the best version of himself or herself. As soon as you tell me that ‘you love me for me’ well, I don’t have to pretend I don’t mood swing/chew really loudly/wear a headscarf to bed. I can be ‘me’. Unfortunately the ‘me’ you are left with is always different to the ‘me’ you met. Did someone say disappointment?

2) Lack of communication

When we start out, you will think that my texting etiquette is phenomenal because I’m basically waiting around for your response. This is, once again, symptomatic of the honeymoon phase. In reality, I am a recluse who somehow manages to have friends. Once the honeymoon phase is over, we will go from instantaneous responses to pauses in conversation that may last quite a few days. It’s not that I’m not thinking about you – I am, in fact, I probably love you… I just can’t be bothered.

Sidenote: will you, potential husband, still want me after reading this?

3) Lack of time management

Yeah, we used to meet up three times a week but now life keeps getting in the way. Yep, you guessed it, the honeymoon phase is over and you are no longer the centre of my universe; I suddenly remember my passions, my hopes, my dreams and…my other friends whom I deserted all for you! Now they must also be attended to. I will see you……around.

4) Wrong expectations  

Your love cannot heal me and it does not have the power to make me whole. That (subconscious) expectation has killed many of my relationships. I’ve walked into relationships insecure and left feeling even worse simply because my worth and validation were dependent on the words and actions of another human. You know what happened when that person walked away from me? They took my confidence with them and I entered the heartbreak hotel.

Now that I’ve shamelessly divulged why my relationship failed, I’d like to tell you that my relationship with Jesus used to fail all the time for the same reasons.

All love stories begin the same and this one was no different. Jesus Christ called out to me and said:

 YO, you need me! You will find all that you are and all that you’ve been looking for, in me. That pain you have in your heart? I can take it away. Those voids you’ve been trying to fill with food and people? I fit perfectly in them.

The call was strong, my heart started thumping, so loudly that I was certain the people in the seats next to me could hear it. I was unable to move but I was unable to stay in the same place any longer – something had to change before the dark hole I had come to accept as my life consumed me. I walked to the front of my church, embarrassed, scared but hopeful that He would do all that He said He could.

The weeks/months after that encounter were blissful. All I wanted to do was become closer to Him. Reading the bible became second nature because I longed to know more about the being that formed me, that loved me unconditionally and laid His life down for me.

A relationship was born; I had fallen in love with Jesus.

Unfortunately, as time went on my prayers became shorter, my bible became untouched and the things I did before I had that encounter with Christ slowly began to creep back into my life. What happened to the passion? What happened to the zeal? What happened to our love?

1) Complacency

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun

2 Corinthians 5:17

At first I looked pretty new but in reality, I didn’t shed my old skin properly. I kept holding onto things (and people) that weren’t supposed to be part of my new life with Him. I got lazy and stopped fighting my desires and eventually those things pulled me away from Him, making each connection harder. I didn’t feel good enough for Him, in fact, I knew I wasn’t good enough, so I began to shy away until there was no contact being made at all.

2) Lack of communication

There is a difference between talking and communicating. Thanking God for a new day is necessary but that is just the beginning of the conversation, it cannot be the crux of your communication for that day. Sometimes we’ve got to lie on the floor and show God where it hurts, the wounds that refuse to stop bleeding and the burdens we can’t carry anymore. When we stop being real with Jesus, we stop having a real relationship with Him.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you

1 Peter 5:7

3) Lack of time management

Jesus was explicit in his requirements of us: love me then love everyone else too (Luke 10:27). That’s it. Everything after that (our desires, our jobs, our dreams) is secondary. If we let those things overshadow our relationship with God and stop intentionally setting time apart for him, our relationship will become stale.

4) Wrong expectations

For a long time, I thought that God was my personal fairy godmother and I believed that our relationship meant that I would get everything I prayed for. I also felt it meant that I wouldn’t have problems or experience crippling fear ever again. How wrong I was. Sometimes we pray for things and get upset when God doesn’t give them to us but we never know what God is protecting us from. Regardless of our faith in Jesus, we will always have to walk through challenging seasons but we have to remember that because of him, we will never, ever have to walk alone again (Deuteronomy 31:6).

A relationship works because we put the work in; wanting it to work is not enough. If we fail to put the work in, its failure is inevitable. For a long time my relationship was stunted because I waited for a feeling, an emotion or a situation to motivate me to work on my relationship with Jesus. We shouldn’t let our problems alone drive us back to Christ, rather we should be moving towards Him every single day; this is how our relationship with Him will be successful.

Yours on this beautiful Friday,

Joy xxxxxxxx