Tag Archives: encouragement

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

Why I’ll Never Go Back To My Ex

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Relationships. Hard work, aren’t they? The (secret) reason why the majority of RomComs end with the first date or the wedding is because after the initial whirlwind romance, things get tough. Relationships are challenging paths walked together by two completely different people with beliefs, experiences and outlooks on life that they held prior to their meeting. No matter how similar you think you are, on that rocky, challenging road all will be revealed. Oh, of course at the beginning things are amazing – beautiful dates, late night calls and those warm, fuzzy feelings but unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever. Each person stops being the best version of themselves and slowly the cracks in the relationship begin to show and within these cracks lies the truth about how different you both really are.

And then it begins: the phone calls that end with someone dropping the phone abruptly instead of with an “I love you”, the tears on the phone because there are no words that adequately encapsulate the hurt that you feel and that awful moment where you are deciding whether to stay or leave. Ah, yes, relationships are tough which is why most do not survive. Most of us are too selfish (sorry) to really handle relationships and these days, more emphasis is placed on our individual wants, needs and goals than the necessity of compromise and therefore the likelihood of a relationship becoming and remaining a success decreases.

Ex is a term that is usually used to refer to a former sexual or romantic partner, especially a former spouse but it can also refer to a variety of former relationships i.e. an ex-friend (I stole this definition from Wikipedia, sorry God). Since each relationship is inherently different, the reasons for their dissolution also varies. Even though some reasons may be looked upon by outsiders as minuscule and easily worked through, to the parties involved the reasons usually justify the break-up. Anyone who has been through a break up knows how dark those first days/weeks/months can be, so dark that the need to pick up the phone and run straight back into the arms of the one you once loved can often become overwhelming.

I think during that dark time we so often forget that the said ‘ex’ is an ‘ex’ for a reason. Yes, we miss them and during that period we long for their presence again but does that mean that they should still be in our lives? Well, of course you’re saying ‘no’ at the moment but I’m sure you can easily recount moments where you’ve given into your emotional urges and gone back to the very person you once cried to be saved from. Some relationships are poisonous and yet we continue to consume them in the hope that one day our stomachs will accept them. The truth is, those relationships will never sit well with us because they are not meant for us.

I was reminded of this when I was reading my Bible last week and I was astounded to see that the Israelites wanted to go back to their exes too. The Egyptians had enslaved the Israelites and during this time of pain and agony, the Israelites cried out to God to save them. Eventually God heard their cries and sent a man named Moses to deliver them. Eventually, the Israelites were set free and ran outta there so fast (in the most dramatic exit known to man), happy, rejoicing, praising God and finally able to walk with their heads held high (Leviticus 26:13). Unfortunately it didn’t take long before the grumbling began; suddenly it dawned on them that they had no idea where they were going. Feelings of uncertainty and fear settled within them and they began to question the God that had set them free and the man that was leading them.

What’s the point in the LORD bringing us to this land? To die by the sword so our wives and children would become war victims? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?

Numbers 14:3

During their dark time (post break-up), they began to long for a time that they were in chains and in pain; fear of the unknown made them look back and idolise a time they once cried out to be saved from.

The pain of missing someone does not mean you are meant to be with them, it simply means that they once held a special place in your heart, and that in itself is not a good enough reason to walk back to them. People don’t say this often but the truth is, pain can be good for you. Pain shows you exactly what you can live through. As humans we search and crave for happiness but it is in the moments of profound pain that we grow the most. It is when there is no certainty but God and we are literally clinging to his every word that we begin to find who we are meant to become. That is when we realise that there is a call on our lives, that is when he becomes our light in the tunnel and at the end of it, and that is when he shows us glimpses of the greatness he has placed within us and the glory he intends to reveal in us one day (Romans 8:18).

…You are not to go back that way again

Deuteronomy 17:16

I’m talking about that job you hated but offers security, friends who say they you love but attack your character and ex-spouses that have no idea how special you are and therefore treat you kinda badly. You are not to return to the things that you once asked to be saved from because you do not belong there anymore; you are not to walk that way again. You do not fit there and if you try to make yourself smaller to resume a position that was not actually created for you, you will hurt yourself. The relationship may have worked before but there is a reason it stopped working: you changed. And that’s okay. You grew. And that’s even better.

There are many people that I miss, so many relationships that I wish I could still hold with both hands instead of reminiscing about them during solitary moments but if I was meant to be holding them, I would be. If I was still meant to be walking with them, they would be here and our lives wouldn’t be taking such different paths. Every time I get that desire to run back to those people and paths, I remind myself that what God has for me will always eventually be mine and I continue to walk forward on the path he has destined for me.

Lots of my love,

Joy xxxx

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

I Was Rejected By The One … And I Survived

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Rejection is no easy subject to write about and to be quite frank, the negative events that sprang to mind when thinking about what to write were enough for me to put my laptop away and pretend I didn’t have a blog. Forgive me if I don’t do this post justice – it has taken me a long time to find the words. Forgive me also if I don’t use the most interesting event to illustrate my personal encounter with rejection– all my juicy rejection stories were just too intense to share on a Friday morning.

My oldest sister once wrote that we live in a society that allows us to bare our midriffs without hesitation but often restricts how we express our pain. Although she wrote this many years ago, the words continue to resonate with me (especially as summer is approaching and all I see right now is bellies, bellies, bellies). It is easier to talk about the mundane occurrences of life than it is to unpack that darkness that exists in each and every one of us. For this reason, we don’t talk about our rejections in day-to-day life. I rarely hear people say that they feel ‘rejected’ because I guess in many ways, it just sounds way too intense and heavy. However, if we take a second to look across our lives, there exists the moments where only the word ‘rejection’ sufficiently encapsulates what happened.

My rejection from the One stung. It broke, challenged, affected me and caused me to question my worth; for a long time I didn’t speak about it. To be honest, I haven’t told anyone spoken about this for the past 4 years. Maybe I’ve been repressing it; this blog keeps forcing me to tell my life stories sighhhh. 

I was in my 2nd year of Sixth Form and university applications were in season. As usual, I wasn’t taking the whole thing very seriously and despite my straight ‘As’ at AS Level I still didn’t quite believe I was smart enough to apply for any of the best universities; I couldn’t face the rejection or the possibility that the Unis could somehow know that my grades were indeed a fluke. So when the head of my Sixth Form began to speak of Oxbridge applications, my mind switched off (as it does quite frequently) because those kinda Unis had nothing to do with me.

My Mother (as usual) had other ideas. She told me that if I applied to Cambridge, she would pay for my driving lessons. It seemed like a good deal – all I had to do was send off an application and in exchange, I would take an intentional step towards my driving dream. My Sixth Form’s deadline for Oxbridge applications was in two days, so after school the next day, my friend and I went to KFC and stayed there until about 8pm and I wrote my personal statement. I had no idea what I wanted to study or why I wanted to go (perhaps because, in hindsight, university wasn’t for me) but I wrote what I thought sounded like a plausible argument and submitted it.

To my surprise I was invited for an interview and somewhere between my application and my interview, during those months filled with hope, prayer and preparation, Cambridge became the One.

Receiving my rejection email was horrible. Despite learning of the rejection while I was next to my then best friend, we didn’t have the sort of friendship where intense emotions were expressed so I read it to her but showed no outward emotion; she didn’t know that I was inwardly breaking down. As soon as I got on that bus, away from her and away from my pride, I cried. Oh, I cried. Shameless, hot, angry tears, which in hindsight, had a greater connection to my beliefs about myself than the rejection itself.

I’m not really sure how I went from being completely indifferent about Cambridge to believing that it was meant for me, but that’s life, isn’t it? One minute it’s just an application/ an encounter with a stranger and before you know it, the application is the gateway to your dream job and that encounter with the stranger becomes the way you met the love of your life. I think that is why rejection is so profound and deadly – there is no way to prepare for it because we don’t know who or what we will attach ourselves to and how that attachment will impact us.

Over the past few months, I have once again encountered the snake that is rejection but I’ve learnt to deal with it differently because of my current beliefs:

1) Where I am is where I am meant to be

On the days where nothing is happening, our minds can sometimes wander back to our defining moments; we think about what we could change in order to make our present moments better reflect where we thought we would be.

I want to put my belief to you:

There is nothing that occurs without God’s permission – the good, the bad and the ugly stuff. This belief usually causes all kinds of uproar because we have some ugly things happening in our world and some even uglier things happening to us; despite this, I still hold this belief.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28

The rejections from potential lovers, family members, friends and dream jobs will one day make sense. Maybe not now and may not for a while, but right now, in this very moment, you are where you are meant to be and all things are working together for your good.

2) God isn’t like those other humans

If you’ve been around the block a couple of times you will be aware that is often the people closest to us that end up hurting us the most. Even when we try and teach ourselves to expect the worst from people, rejection from those we love always has the capacity cut us deeply and viciously.

My experience of God has always been different.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

Psalm 27:10

I love this scripture because it basically says that even when the people who were created to love, nurture and protect me abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Despite having amazing parents, this verse still holds true for me. There have been times where my parents have done things I never thought they would do but this verse continuously picks me back up and reminds that it doesn’t really matter what they do because the Lord welcomes me with open arms and will touch my wounds with His love.


The fear of rejection often causes us to settle for things we know aren’t right for us instead stepping out in faith and reaching for the things we desperately desire. In those moments of fear we have to remember that God calls us to live boldly and we cannot let the fear of rejection cause us to lesser lives. Being rejected is never going to be easy but in the midst of the pain, regret and anger, always remember that you have someone on your side that will never reject you while you are alive and able to connect with Him. Your CV is good enough. Your personality is just right. Your flaws are beautiful to Him.

All the love I can muster on this day,

Joy xxxxxx

 

 

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

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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

The Lie Drake Told Me

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Although women generally speak candidly about their trust issues due to their interactions with our beloved male species, all my heartache (okay, most) have come in form of women I once called friends. As time goes on I will fully divulge all the…interesting friendships I have had -the ones I broke and the ones that broke me. To be quite honest, I think I’m the problem. Once I have decided that you and I are on the same team and once the walls I built come tumbling down, I am prone to riding for you, kicking down trees and people for you, praying for you, calling you (everyone that read the call anxiety post knows that this is a big deal) and ultimately trying to make sure that you are living the best life possible.

I am intense (can you tell?) which means until I (recently) learnt how to control the intensity of my friendships a lot of them weren’t very healthy. Over time, I had to learn that if a friendship wasn’t healthy it was okay to walk away;  I had to stop giving myself to people who would never truly appreciate what I was giving them. Walking away doesn’t mean that there has to be an intense burning of the bridge we once walked together, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other anymore, it just means that the nature of the relationship adjusts in accordance with the new expectations both parties have.

So what does Drake have to do with all this?

In 2011 Drake taught me that because of the sheer fact that I would only ever live once, I should do whatever I pleased (I think YOLO is the ghetto version of carpe diem). Since then I have listened avidly to all new Drake songs hoping for a new life lesson.

I was in my room on January 1st 2014, spring-cleaning and suddenly Drake’s ‘No New Friends’ came on. It dawned on me how profound the statement was; Drake had done it again, he had managed to encapsulate a phenomenon in a catchy and sexy way, which would once again tell the masses how to think, how to feel and how to treat people.

 

….Okay, let me be honest…

 

I didn’t clean my room on January 1st and I think I only heard this Drake song in passing coz my sisters are way cooler than me and keep me in the loop.

 

Although Drake’s involvement in my decision-making wasn’t as high as the title suggests, this year I did decide that it was time to pick a team carefully which would involve NO new additions. I looked across all my social ties and picked a few people who had shown themselves to be supportive and reliable for a substantial amount of time, and were therefore less likely to let me down. For these chosen ones, I would give my time, my resources and my heart. Everyone else? Well, if we crossed paths, we could cook it up and chill, but really, it wasn’t going to go any deeper than that anymore.

I was done, bruised in many ways and screaming NO NEW FRIENDS, NO NEW FRIENDS, NO NEW FRIENDS NO, NO, NO.

It went well at first. I was supported, loved, no longer giving myself to people who could potentially hurt me and I had successfully decreased the probability of being wounded. To be quite honest, I was loving life. (I’m not sure if I was actually. Let’s just say I was.) Due to the horrifically beautiful 2013, I was prepared for 2014’s first major hurdle. What I wasn’t prepared for was the team I had so carefully chosen at the start of the year having their own life hurdles to contend with while I was struggling to jump over mine. Where there were once uplifting conversations and text messages telling me that everything was going to be okay, there was only silence. In the silence, I found myself trying to find the balance between understanding the hurdles they were facing and feeling indignant that no one was around to help me get over mine.

SO in this season of self-absorption, anger, hurt and fear I learnt a couple of lessons which I’ll share now, and a few more I’ll share after the smoke clears and I’m running the home stretch.

 

1) Choose your number One

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

Could you do something for me?

Exchange the words ‘chariots’ and ‘horses’ with the names of your two closest friends.

Now read the Psalm again.

Yes, to some degree you can trust in these people to pull you through your storms but at the end of the day, the only friend who will die for you is Jesus. It is that real. We can’t place mere mortals on pedestals and expect them to be there all the time – it is not their job to tend to our needs and ultimately, humans are concerned primarily with their own self-preservation. We are all battling our demons and it is unfair for us to have irrational expectations of those who love us the most and expect them to drop their own issues and come running just because we’ve slightly bruised our knees.

Thankfully, God can handle the weight of our expectations and will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Who do regard as your team? It’s okay to have a team, just as long as God is the most important person on it – everyone else will eventually let you down.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

 

2) God will bring new friends – whether you like it or not

You can scream ‘no new friends’ as much as you like, God is going to bring new people into your life that you are required to change through your perspectives and your love. I know you have trust issues, I know people have hurt you in the past – they’ve hurt me too – but in hiding from new people, we do ourselves a disservice.

Look at all the beautiful friends you have –they were once ‘new friends’. We are changed most by people, the experiences we share with them and the worlds they birth within us, to shield ourselves from these  new friendships is to live a life that is lesser than the one God intended for us to live.

 

3) What about your old(er) friends?

I sat with a friend this week. Although time and distance had passed between us, I thought everything was fine. They weren’t. Her words broke my heart and I sat in the middle of the shopping centre with tears streaming down my face as she revealed to me the depths of her current situation. In that moment, I realised that I had missed the point (once again). You may not need any more new friends but there are people out there that still need you. Your job is to give yourself to old and new friends believing that God is able to fill you up again if you are left empty and heal the parts of you that may be broken during the giving process.


 

I could have written this post about how sad I was that my team had let me down but I think we need to shift our focus from viewing people as sources to viewing ourselves as resources that can be drawn from in times of need. We should seek to lay the trust issues we have accumulated over time aside if we want to become the light that shines for those in the darkness.

 

Lots of light on this dreary day,

Joy

(Can we all take a moment today to pray that it will stop raining? Many thanks.)

xxxxxx