Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Claire Campbell

A different kind of love

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Love is possibly the most over used word.

I ‘love’ that song, I ‘love’ that place, I ‘love’ a certain food. While it may seem innocent enough the truth is that by over utilising this simple phrase we’ve manage to strip it of its real meaning.  As a consequence ‘Love’ has become less somehow.

Popular culture paints a very alluring picture of ‘love’. We see it in movies and music video.  You can read about it in books and see images of it on Instagram. It’s a ‘love’ that looks right and appears to fulfill all that we’re seeking after. It ticks all the right boxes; romance, attraction and the fairytale happy ending.  This may seem like the kind of love we should be looking for but the ‘love’ that is very often portrayed is not real.  It’s just a shallow copy of what love is.  The real question is what should love look like?

Almost but not quite right

Love doesn’t take away, it adds.  If the love you have somehow makes you less than who you are, it’s not love.  If love leaves you feeling fragile, lonely or uncertain, chances are that you’ve settled for something that may look like the kind of ‘love’ that you find in a pop song but isn’t the kind of love you need.

Love doesn’t build walls; it removes obstacles and brings us closer to others.  If you feel like you need to keep a part of you back and protect yourself from being hurt, that’s not love.  Love is open and vulnerable but safe and trustworthy at the same time.

Everyone seems to have a theory or opinion about love.   The Bible tells us that there is no greater love than the love that would put someone else’s needs before its own.  It’s not a selfish emotion, looking for what it can get or what it is owed.  It’s sacrificial, generous and uplifting.  This is the love that caused Jesus to give up His place in Heaven, be born to a humble existence on Earth and die to give us a chance to know God and be free from the consequences of our broken and damaged human nature.  It was the ultimate act of unselfish, generous, vulnerable, powerful love.

If you are looking for a love that will never let you down and allows you to be who you were made to be maybe you need to look at kind of love that God has for you.  If you would like to know how you can do this, please leave a comment or click on the link.

Wasted time

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In an ever-evolving world, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest trends, at times it’s even hard to keep up with our friends. If we only had more time in the day, then maybe we’d be able achieve everything we had set out to do. What if time wasn’t the issue, but priorities were? We compromise on our efforts and time for meaningless things and then complain that we just don’t have enough time in the day.

Recently, I’ve sat down with a loved one who I told not to waste my time. Time had caused me so much pain, and left me feeling rejected and abandoned. Time was also my worst enemy, as I have found myself rushing through life. It was in that moment when I stopped, and realised that everything I want, I don’t have! I wasn’t willing to put in the time to get what I know was achievable. Time and I weren’t friends.

Despite telling my loved one not to waste my time, I pondered on two things that I believe did not go wasted in the times where I felt most vulnerable, rejected and alone.

  1. I’ve learnt something, even in a season of wasted time

The hardest thing is to walk away from something after you put so much effort into it. You feel like you have wasted your time and effort on something that had no purpose in your life.  Even though it may be hard to admit, at times those seasons teach us the most about ourselves. It may leave us hurt, but it also makes us stronger. What would this life be if we weren’t constantly moulded?

Instead of focusing of what could have been, I’ve fixed my eyes on the growth and the lesson learnt in that season of ‘waste.’ Not everything goes to waste, we get to choose what stays and what goes. We also get to choose to learn from what has happened to us, or to remain in our despair of what could have been.

  1. Take out the good and forget the bad!

I had to learn to take out the good and leave the bad, Sometimes, if not all the time, we focus on all the bad things that have happened in that season of ‘waste’ that we forget the good. I guess hurt does that to us. Don’t allow yourself to be held captive to the things that are no longer important. Remember the good times, and allow yourself time get over the hurt from the ‘waste’.

Not all wasted time is bad time. Maybe it is just a time to reveal the areas in your life that need more of your attention. I knew the moment I told my loved one not to waste my time, that I was carrying what had happened to me in the past, into my future. That wasn’t okay. Time revealed that to me. Time also gave me some of the best memories with the most amazing people too. Allow yourself the time, to priorities what is meaningful and what should go. Time could either be your worst enemy or your greatest friend.

Religion vs relationship

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Having friends that have a different belief system to you can be quite challenging. Over the years I have grown up in a multi-cultural environment with many friends from different walks of faith. The challenge was to love them in the times where I didn’t understand their faith.

I’ve always had that question of how were we all born into the same world, but serve different gods? The only thing that ever separated me from my friends, was our religion. So how was this a good thing?

I struggled with this question throughout my teen years. Until I learnt a lesson between religion and relationship.

Religion

The dictionary defines religion as being: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with passion and faith

Whatever the law is, so shall the people obey. I guess from experience, we tend to follow the things that are more structured. It’s law-abiding and has rules. Do this, in order to receive that. Do something wrong, and this will happen to you. Certain times in the year, this is what we do.

It’s easy to become religious. I know this, because without even noticing it we do things in our daily lives religiously. For most part of my walk with Christ I was part of the religious culture. I believed that if I did wrong, wrong would be done to me.

I believed that God was good, but I also believed He punished. I’ve never been more wrong. Our God is a God of relationship and goodness. While He allows me to experience the consequences of my bad choices and shows me a better way when I make mistakes He doesn’t cause bad things to happen to teach me a lesson. How could He ever do that to me?

Religion makes us believe that the law is everything. Instead of realising that God is so much more than just law.

Relationship

According to the dictionary relationship means: “the way in which two people are connected” 

How could I ever believe that God wanted to form a personal relationship with me, when I struggled with just having a relationship with any other person?

This was a tough concept for me to understand. Throughout my years, I had built up walls and believed lies, that led me to think that all God wanted was me to follow Him. It was when I changed churches that my perspective changed.

God wanted me to connect with Him on a personal level. Where I could build up trust in Him. It didn’t happen over night, and till this day I am still working on my relationship with Him. Over time the walls that I had built around religion have tumbled and my faith has grown. It’s as if I have a personal friend who I can communicate with anytime of the day.

God is not a one way street. He wants you to have a relationship with Him, as much as He wants to have a relationship with you.

Love triumphs over religion. Jesus came to abolish religion. He proved the religious wrong, and set the captives free. Religion says do, Jesus says done. Religion says slave, Jesus says son. Allow yourself to be loved and to know love by being in a relationship with God. He longs to get to know you.

Secrets and lies

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Have you ever been told a lie, and wondered why? What was it that made that person not trust you enough to tell you the truth? I’ve often wondered why we have allowed ourselves to become people who need to keep secrets from one another. The reality is that the more secrets we have, the more lies we tell.

In the garden of Eden, the serpent lied to Eve, telling her that if she ate from the tree of knowledge that nothing would happen to her, knowing full well that she was told not to eat from that tree. However, she did and she also allowed Adam to do so as well.

In shame, they hid from God. As if they could keep something from God who is the creator of the whole universe. Secrets do that, they make us want to run and hide. Instead of allowing ourselves to be set free, we hold ourselves captive by keeping secrets.

How do secrets lead to lies

Secrets create division. This is what Satan wanted when he told Eve to eat the fruit from the tree. He wanted to divide Adam and Eve away from God. It also made them ashamed as they hide from God. As if God didn’t know they ate from the forbidden tree?

Despite our shame, we think that it would be okay to cover up our secrets with a lie. Only to cover up one lie, with another lie. This could possibly be a vicious cycle the eventually catches up with you. Secrets that turn into lies could also possibly lead to more hurt than intended.

Do my secrets affect those around me?

After Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, they hid from God. There was, and still is no hiding from the Creator. I sometimes wonder if they would have kept it a secret if they could! Ultimately what they did, transcended throughout the earth. Their actions, caused a reaction that echoed through many years.

The same happens with secrets. All our actions cause a ripple effect into our future and the lives of those we surround ourselves with. It effects the ones we love negatively and it beckons questions. The most common line I’ve heard is: “I wish they trusted me enough to tell me the truth.”

Ultimately, even if the truth hurts, it is better to speak to a person instead of keeping it a secret and covering it up with a lie. Lies break down trust and build up walls. Be honest, even when you know it might hurt. Honesty always wins the fight.

 

Always choose the light

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In a recent episode of Shades of Blue, a father and son had a conversation in the hospital, after the son survived multiple gunshot wounds. At the time of the shooting the two did not have the best relationship. If fact, the night when the son was shot, they were having an argument. After a visit from his father in the hospital, the son said this to him:

“Everything is cracked, because that’s how the light gets in, Things break, and light forces it way into the dark places and illuminates what matters.”

“What’s that?”

“Forgiveness.”

Brokenness is always seen as a negative thing. We view brokenness as something that is incapable of ever being repaired. Why do we choose brokenness and not the light? Or do we force the light out with all our brokenness. I believe that if we allow ourselves to forgive, that we will allow the light to repair the broken pieces that we have.

Before dealing with a tragedy, I believe that we ought to allow God to be the light in our lives. We should also allow Him to help us forgive that which has broken us. Light always exposes the darkness. Here are some ways that I believe we allow ourselves to walk in the light and to heal.

Forgive, even when it hurts.

Often unforgiveness holds us back and stops us from moving forward in life. By hanging onto your hurt you not only hold yourself for ransom but you also prevent yourself from allowing God’s light to shine on what matters most. It is in those painful seasons that God uses us the most and radiates His light through us. Forgive, and let God do the rest.

Light exposes the darkness.

Don’t try and hide from God. He isn’t out to get you, He just wants to help you. Allow yourself to be honest with a friend that you can confidently confide in about what is going on in your life. Most importantly, be honest with God. He is just waiting for you to ask, so that you can receive all that He has set out for you. We all have broken places in our life, but God will still use you to shine brightly for Him.

Choose to live in the light.

We actively need to choose to live in the light. Brokenness can consume us, but we need to choose forgiveness and choose to live and walk in the light. There will be days when we feel like we don’t want to choose the light, but those are the days that we need to remind ourselves that hiding is never a good thing. For light always exposes the darkness.

I pray that you choose to walk this life with the light of the world, Jesus. He will help you through your brokenness and give you peace through your brokenness. All you need to do is ask.

Brothers and sister

There was a series that aired on ABC called ‘Brothers and Sisters’. It featured the most dysfunctional and most relatable family I had ever set my eyes on. Not only did they have one sibling that was always in trouble, they also always seemed to pull through anything, no matter the situation.

This often reminded me of my own siblings and how we would argue, only to be best friends after the fight. Yes, I think it’s normal to have disagreements with our siblings. However, I’ve also found that they are my constants companions in my life journey.

We’ve laughed, cried, and fought with each other. Yet we’ve always seemed to have each others backs. Over the years, I’ve come to realise two main things that my siblings have taught me.

  1. Siblings are your constant supporters.

I’ve had some crazy ideas in the past, but nothing has gone unsupported by my siblings. In fact even passing my last year of schooling was celebrated with my siblings alone.

They are your first friends, and no matter what you set your mind to, they tend to support you. Not just in the good times, but the bad times too. If ever we are in need we always look to each other before anyone else.

2. They are my greatest confidants.

We’ve all had those times where we could not tell our parents something that has happened. I thank God everyday that I’ve always had a brother and a sister that I could confide in at those times. I’m also thankful that they have been able to confide in me, even as a younger sister.

We’ve learnt over the years that friends may come and go, but at the end of the day we’ll always have each other. It seems simple, but trust had to be built up and we were always taught to love and respect one another. It’s as if God designed them to give a countless amount of love even when we argue.  Siblings teach you and need you more than they say. If you have a sibling, you have a forever friend!

Collateral beauty

Have you ever wondered “Wow, am I ever going to see the beauty through all this mess?” If you have, I can promise you that you are not alone.

In the movie ‘Collateral Beauty’, actor Will Smith plays the part of Howard Inlet, a man who writes a letter to three abstracts. Three abstracts that cannot be controlled by humans.  In fact the three abstacts are things that we are all ultimately going to encounter in our lives.

These three abstracts are: Love, Time and Death. Howard wrote to them in a time where he was grieving the loss of his daughter.  He wrote to Love, Time, and Death as if they were going to respond to him.

Here is what stood out in all his letters to  Love, Time and Death.

Love

“Goodbye!”

In a time of grief it’s easy to let go of that which you love and who you love. You just said goodbye to the most precious person in your life.  How do you possibly love again?

I love that in the movie, Keira Knightly, the actress who plays the part of “Love”, tells Smith’s character that love is the very fabric which holds everything together. I agree. How do you live and not love?

How do you love and not know Jesus? I believe that Jesus had to give up many things in order for you to know love. A love that is in its purest form. It’s not fractured or confusing. It’s a love that saves and protects.

It’s a love eagerly waiting to greet you through pain and through joyous times.

Time

“They say you heal all wounds, but they don’t talk about how you destroy all that’s good in the world. How you turn beauty into ash. Well, you’re nothing more than petrified wood to me. You’re dead tissue that won’t decompose. You’re nothing!”

I would say that at this point Howard Inlet was really angry. All he wanted was more time with his daughter. I guess that’s what we all need. It’s time!

He speaks about time decomposing and it turning beautiful things into ash. Yet to God, time is the one thing that He sees as a tiny fraction of our lives. He says that ife is but a vapor. So should we consider time in everything we do? Yes! Spend it wisely, use it appropriately.  It helps balance out what the important things are and what aren’t.

How do you spend your time?

Jesus often spent with the ones He loved. Knowing that He had much to teach them and a lot of love to give them.

Death

“Dear death, you travel with so much methodology. You cause so much pain, inspire such fear, but you’re a paper tiger to me. You’re just pathetic and powerless middle management. You don’t even have the authority to make a simple trade.”

I would do anything to switch places with the ones that I have lost along the way. I guess we don’t really want to feel pain. Or maybe it’s a feeling that we know all too well. In any case there is no way we would ever be able to trade places.

Jesus, however, made this trade. He died so that you may have life, and life in its fullest. So morn, but know that one day you will see that person again. Death isn’t final, it’s just a new beginning in much more glorious place.

I pray today that you cherish the ones you love! Use the time that you have wisely! And have no regrets in the end!

When someone you love has anxiety

Have you ever been in a situation where someone you love has had an anxiety attack?

This could be a scary experience, as you may not really know how to help them. Over the years I’ve found people diagnose themselves as chronic anxiety patients, without really knowing the facts.

Anxiety is a general term used to describe nervousness, fear, worry and apprehension.  All these terms affect the way a person feels and behaves in different situations.

So how do I help a person struggling with anxiety?

Determine what is causing their anxiety.

Often we just want to love and sympathize with the person that has just had an anxiety attack. What we should be doing is asking them what causes the anxiety.

Not all anxiety attacks are from medical conditions. Here are some other reasons why people might have anxiety:

  • Environmental factors – Trauma, abuse and stress can all trigger anxiety.  Anxiety can also be caused by high altitudes such as flying in an aeroplane.
  • Medical factors – Anxiety can come from dealing with a serious medical issue, or the side effects from taking medication.
  • Substance abuse – The abuse of substances can contribute to anxiety, so can withdrawal from drugs and alcohol use.

This will help you to understand that what they are experience is very really to them. Even if you might not understand the anxiety, try to understand what might have caused the anxiety.

Determine the symptoms of their anxiety.

Not everyone shows the same symptoms when experiencing anxiety. Some symptoms are more physical than others. These symptoms can be seen as normal everyday symptoms that we experience when we become ill. Such as

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Trembling or a sense of numbness
  • Restlessness
  • Back pain and nausea

Once you have become aware of their symptoms, it will be easier for you to console them. Anxiety symptoms may vary depending on what the person is experiencing in that time.

Anxiety rules!

You may still not understand the reason your loved one experiences anxiety. But make sure to express to them that anxiety isn’t the ruler of who they are! Continue to love and support them in those times and listen to what they have to say.

One of the most common misunderstandings around anxiety happens because we refuse to listen to our loved ones when they say they can’t do something. Often you’ll find that anxiety is caused because your loved one is not in control of what will happen in their future.

Make sure to reassure them that you will be there with them till the end. This helps them to know that they are not going through this alone.

The biggest rule when it comes to anxiety is to love, no matter how hard it may seem to love that person at that time. They need to know that you are still willing to love them through the pain that they are experiencing in that moment.

 

Distance and time

Recently I’ve travelled from one city to another to visit family. In order to do so, I needed to get on a two-hour flight. The only problem was I have a fear of flying.

Crazy thoughts ran through my head as I waited to board the plane. Thoughts like:

“What if the plane crashes and I never get to see my family again?”

“What happens if we hit turbulence?”

“I’m not ready to leave this earth yet!!!”

I remember putting my earphones in my ears and switching on the music. I would do anything just to calm my anxiety. Then it hit me, that even though God had promised me a safe fight, I wasn’t trusting Him to be true to His word.

Distance and time was the only thing keeping me from seeing my family.  It was also the two things that taught me the most about myself and my faith in God.

Here are somethings that distance and time has taught me over my short flight to my family.

God is always faithful.

Even though I struggled during my time on the plane, I had a safe flight going to and from the city. God was there constantly reminding me that everything will be just fine.

He was my reassurance that no matter what happened He was not yet done with me and that He was in control. There were times on the flight that my anxiety flared, but God was my constant reassurance that all would be well.

Even though my faith was shaken, God was still faithful. He proves to be faithful till the end of every journey.

God is not just a God for the struggle.

I’ll never forget that faint voice that said: “I am with you always”  once I arrived safely at my destination. It was my reminder that He was with me through the good times and the bad. His intention is not only to be my God when I struggled, but also to be my God when I am doing well.

My struggle was real, but even more so my God was real and I needed to trust Him through every situation.

God is a God of distance and time.

God might take you on a journey, but I believe that in His time that He wants to teach you something. Time is God’s friend, it’s where He gets to teach us how to rely and trust on Him.

I believe that sometimes He needs to distance us from our comfort zones in order for us to learn. It’s not to punish us, but to get us to trust and have faith in Him. It is when we are stuck in those difficult and distant places that we tend to see God a little bit clearer.

I might still be anxious about flying, but I know that with God distance and time is never an issue. God takes the simple struggles in our life and shifts our perspective to always have our eyes fixed on Him.

 

 

Children and me!

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” – Unknown

Children are good at playing copy cat. They watch what you do and say, and then proceed to do exactly the same. I’m surrounded by children on a daily basis who have all seemed to pick up on my habits. If not my habits then my sayings and my actions.

After awhile their parents notice a change in their child. Which in turn has resulted in me playing a big part in their child’s life, without me even noticing.

Children have often been my biggest challenge and my most rewarding gift. After teaching many different children over the years, I’ve found out some interesting things about them.

You are their biggest role model.

Children are always looking for an example to follow. Their greatest heroes might be Spiderman and the Ninja Turtles, but you are the tangible example in their daily lives.

At the age of six, my pupils tend to even walk the way I walk. If I don’t set a good example, they won’t follow it. I have to model what I know would be best for them in the future, and not just now.

Children are always watching to see what you do and how you do it.

Children love easily.

Children have an immeasurable  amount of love to give. There is no hidden agenda to why they love you. The more impact you have on their lives, the more time they want to spend with you.

They might challenge you, but they also respect you. Children learn from a young age to hold onto the one who has taught them right from wrong.

They love easily, because they trust you!

Children are the greatest teachers!

We are always looking to teach our children right from wrong. Or we want to teach them basic educational facts. Why not allow them to learn on their own?

Instead of me always teaching my children, they have surprised me and taught me.

They have taught me to be patient, because not every child is going to connect all the dots the first time. Often things need to be retaught and done over more than once. Once a child finally achieves their goals, it’s a teachers greatest reward to see their excitement.

Children teach you how to laugh. I’ve never had a day in my class that we haven’t all laughed together. They say the oddest things and then laugh at themselves. They are not shy, nor do they judge themselves or their friends.

They’ve taught me how to have fun. Fridays we play! We speak about fidget spinners and challenge each other in many games. We play together because we can.

Most importantly, they’ve taught me how to accept the Kingdom of Heaven like a child! They forgive easily, and they are slow anger. They trust blindly and love quickly. They give freely and are always eager to learn.

Children are great imitators, but they are also great teachers. Without even knowing it, one child can touch your heart for the rest of your life.

 

 

 

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