June has been a tricky month for me, all in all. The pain of real life has dappled the sunshine of home, as I attempt to come to terms with it all. Sometimes I wish I did not experience every emotion in such a raw, intense way. The insomnia which plagued me for the first 40 years of my life has returned these last six weeks or so and I feel weary and tired. Not for the first time in my life, I am yearning for an off switch for my brain, to give me a break from the busy-ness of thinking.
June has brought with it deep feelings of loss, as well as a gnawing concern about the world my teens are going to be growing up in. I have found myself avoiding social media and the news, attempting to block out the negativity surrounding UK politics, but even so there is a heaviness hanging in the air right now. To be honest I don’t understand enough of the ramifications of the UK either staying or leaving Europe, but I do know that there is hostility and suspicion where there was once love and trust.
Yesterday I took myself for a long walk in the woods. It was cold and wet, matching my mood. I strode onwards, up into the thick of the forest, deeper and deeper. Unaware of exactly where I was, rain pelting down on me, my boots ankle-deep in mud, I just wanted to lay down and curl up. Instead (because really, curling up and lying down in the middle of a wet forest would help neither my own personal situation or that of my country’s) I broke down and called out to God.
All the hurts of the last few weeks came pouring out as my own tears mixed with rain drops, both streaming down my face. It was as if God was crying with me. In that moment I felt what can only be described as the dawn of an understanding of God’s pain as he sees His children pitch themselves against each other, hurting each other needlessly. I was hurting because my motives had been brought into question concerning a friendship, when someone I loved chose to believe the worst of me. I could see the parallels between my own situation and the one in the UK – a split nation where motives were being called into question; families and friends, finding themselves untenably on opposing side, were fragmenting, a reflection of the larger picture.
The rain was falling like feathers now, gently brushing my cheeks. It was the type of rain which always reminds me of spring and new beginnings. The sun strained through the cloud, easing its way through the thicket of leaves. I smiled, seeing the message God was sending me. All things happen for the good of those who love Him. God is a God of loveliness, a God of miracles and is more than capable of creating beauty from ashes. Things may never be the same as they were before, but a person can heal and move on and a country can do likewise.
My pace slowed to a ramble. My tears had dried up; my heart was not feeling as vulnerable anymore. God had cleared the chaos of my mind and I knew I was at a cross roads in my life. Would I take my pain, nourish and nurture it into something that would have long-lasting implications as to my ability to have close friendships in the future? Or would I listen intently to what I felt God whispering through those feathery raindrops as they fell past my ears, gently to the floor?
I pondered, in that moment, how many times in my life had I chosen to see the worse in people, including myself? How many people had I misjudged and caused untold pain to? How many people had I brushed off because of shyness or thinking that I wasn’t good enough? I wondered how much difference a smile would make to someone’s day; what effect an encouraging word would have on the people I came across in my life; and most of all I wondered about the effect one girl could have on the people around her if she chose to always see the best in them.
And this is what I came away from my walk with. I had wandered lost and alone through those woods and God had met me where I was at. He had tended for me with infinite care, without judgement, without holding back love and tenderness. He had seen my pain and He had cried with me. And there and then, I made the decision to choose love. Always. It is what Jesus chose as He died on the cross. Because God’s children do not need unnecessary judgement; they do not need more pain or unkindness. Life is hard enough. From this day on I choose love, and it will be my prayer from now until the day I die that my country, which I am so proud to be a part of, will also choose love.
At a time in history where we are faced by unprecedented negativity in the media twenty-four hours a day, NOW is surely the time for LOVE.