There is this survival instinct in some humans to be perpetually hopeful, or optimistic, when faced with pessimistic circumstances. Maybe it’s more of a coping mechanism than a survival instinct – we are forced to create our own light when everything around us is dark. Some think that this is naivety; that this light is imagined rather than observed. But is the imagination really an issue? Once the present was just a figment of our imagination as the future.
I recently wrote an article for Open Doors – a charity for persecuted an oppressed Christians across the world. It does amazing work, fighting for freedom of speech and religion in many notoriously oppressive countries such as North Korea. They also smuggle Bibles to Christians who can’t get a hold of them due to restrictive laws in their country.
You can see my article here.
In the run up to summer and the aftermath of exams, I’ve become increasingly aware of that goal of having a “summer body.” I find myself looking in the mirror and sucking in to see if I would look the way I want to in a bikini, and increasingly scrolling through beach photos on Instagram that make me even more sensitive to my appearance. But these thoughts are toxic because they overwhelm all other thoughts and can become an unhealthy obsession. These thoughts heighten insecurities and make me believe the lies that my worth is based on my appearance – when I have a truth that I should be resting on:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I have been created uniquely and specially and I shouldn’t scrutinize my body when it was purposefully created. It’s one thing to want to be healthy, but another to become unhealthily obsessed with looking a certain way. I need to remember that my worth does not depend on my appearance. I don’t need to be able to walk confidently around in a bikini – I need to rest in the peace of knowing that my true worth comes from within.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
I was feeling pretty inspired today as I flicked through this coffee table book I have The Art of Botanical Illustration so I decided to write poems using my fridge magnet words to create aesthetically pleasing poems:
Rose-smeared petals play
in the garden
and water rains beneath the sky
and from above,
the sun shines light like honey.
a cool, sweet mist whispers
in my head, on my tongue.
What if I recall life
and no pictures shine,
they sleep as
whispers in a mist
licking the rose petals
in the garden in my head,
but I never see?
It was my first time in the royal botanic gardens in Edinburgh – we are so lucky to have such a place filled with nature in the middle of the city.
This trip just emphasised the truth of Romans 1:20
There are things about him that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand by what God has made.
choose to love,
choose to trust instead.
throw away judgement and scrutiny,
pick up hope and optimism.
it’s easy to pick out the faults and failures,
but what if we looked at each other
and at society
searching for the good,
and not the bad?
maybe we’ll find that we don’t need to strive for self-improvement;
we just need to learn to appreciate
So, Highers are coming up, as you’ve heard me repeatedly say on this blog in the midst of swirling anxiety and stress. Less than 2 weeks now before my first exam. I have every inclination to feel stressed – except these words cause me to falter in my anxieties:
11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.
I can trust that God has my future in His hands. The whole reason why Highers are built up to be all that they’re built up to be is because of the weight they are given for our futures – universities look at these exam results and decide whether they want you based on those letters. But what if I tell you that our future does not have to be defined by what grades we get in these exams! It is so easy to get caught up in the feelings of needing to prove ourselves and the pressures of perfection and performance – but we can only do our best. And God will do the rest of it.
“In those days when you pray, I will listen.” > God will hear our desires and honour them as we seek Him. God has the best idea of what our future should hold and will make it happen if we let Him. God will help us when we ask for help during tough times of trial and testing – He will give us the help we need during exams, if we simply ask!
We can have hope and confidence because God will provide for us and we can look forward to what God has in store!
25 She is strong and is respected by the people.
She looks forward to the future with joy.
Our futures don’t rest on these exams; we can place our future in God’s hands. There is something so reassuring in knowing that I don’t have to carry myself alone, that I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself – I don’t have to carry all these burdens on my own: Jesus says:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
I’m trying so hard to trust in God and rely on Him – I can’t bring about the future God wants me to have in my own strength, I can’t even comprehend the amazing plans He has for me. These are words to live by and take comfort in and find hope in:
5 Trust the Lord with all your heart,
and don’t depend on your own understanding.
6 Remember the Lord in all you do,
and he will give you success.