Actually, when I was 16, I was pretty short, a little bit podgy, pimply, widely liked but definitely not in the ‘popular crowd’...and possibly a bit geeky. I used to think about what I would be like when I was 20. Turning up to church on a cold winters morning, hair still gorgeous and long, but mostly straight and tame and pulled back softly to reveal soft pink cheeks and big brown eyes. My brown coat would be buttoned up to my chin, and my fingers were interlaced with those of a faithful boy – loved by my family and who was probably just about to ask me to marry him, after we’d been going out for 2 years.Actually, when I was 20, I mainly wore trackpants and hoodies. I turned up to church by myself – usually windswept and a little worse for wear after walking for 55 minutes to avoid a bus fare. Calling my hair tame would have been a big fat lie. I was a math student, I didn’t really like my degree, I had decided that I never wanted to marry and have children because I was scared that I would settle down and become complacent, and get tied up in the trivialities of every day life and forget about the big picture, and what I really wanted to do most of all was to change the world.
When I was 21, I used to think about what I would be like when Ieft uni. How I would go to the gym, and have a coffee shop where I could order ‘the usual’. How I would own a car, and go on roadtrips, and travel overseas. How I would be an influential figure. How Iwould change the shape of my workplace, my city, my nation, my world. How everyone would love me, and applaud me and I would go down in history books as a mover and shaker.
Actually, when I left uni, I spent a year doing an internship with an international student Christian group. I could barely afford a hot chocolate, definitely not a car. I worked late nights and early mornings. I said “yes” and I said “let me!”. I felt like I gave and I spent without seeing many results. I realised that I couldn’t change anyone. Influence maybe, one or two. But as for changing my city – that seemed like an impossible task, let alone changing the world.
When I was 23, I moved home. Back to my parents, back to my old room, back to siblings and early nights and having my washing done for me. Back to rent free accommodation and Mum’s cooking. You might not be surprised that this was where I learnt to feel content. It does sound like a pretty good deal.
But this wasn’t where I wanted to be – this wasn’t my plan for my life. I felt like it was back to square one. the hopeless child who just can’t grow up and move away. I’d come home becasue I was exhausted, and teary, and overwhelmed by life, uncertain about the future and to be honest, pretty bleak about the present. A couple of doctors visits, a few serious conversations and a lot of tears later, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It was a mouthful that was pretty hard to swallow. It was a label I didn’t want to accept.
I felt like I’d failed somehow. By letting myself get to this point. For about 6 months I couldn’t work – I was on a benefit. I didn’t cook or clean or anything regularly, I was just blessed by my amazing family. I slept at 10 and didn’t wake up until 9. I couldn’t handle social gatherings. To begin with I couldn't even read or paint. I just lay on my bed and listened to the radio. As my strength came back, I wrote. I read. I watched movies. I sewed. I walked. I started going to the gym. I saw a counsellor. I prayed. I visited my sisters. I biked. I sat in the sun.
The first 3 months were an incredible struggle. I couldn’t just sit back and let my life pass me by. I couldn’t be lazy, I couldn’t depend on others. I had to do something. I had to just get enough willpower together, and just pull myself together and be the person I wanted to be. And so I fought against it. fought against myself.
During this time, I was constantly going to God, hoping for something that would set me free to speed up my life again. And yet, all I sensed from my Father in heaven, was an overwhelming “it’s OK”.
wait, my darling
no, don’tstand up. I love to see you
unwound, letting go, forgetting the to-do list
I want to speak into your heart, breathe into
It’s a delicate process – you have to be still
or you won’t hear the words I speak
I learned that I’m not many of the things that I always dreamed I would be, when I was 12.,but that I am many things that I never imagined. And I heard God saying “it’s OK”. In fact, that it’s more than OK- because this is how He has made me, and he delights in THIS.
I learnt that sometimes, I can’t do anything. That there are things much bigger than me, and that I’m not the Messiah. And I hear god saying “It’s OK”, because He IS the Messiah, he’s the one who is changing the world, He’s the one who will use me as part of HIS plan (and not the other way around).
I learnt that I need other people. That I need to share my weakness as well as my strength, and I hear God saying “It’s OK”. It’s OK to be vulnerable, and to rely on others sometimes. It’s OK.
I learnt that I don’t have a lot of the answers. There were things I thought I knew. Especially about God and life, and now I don’t have the words to articulate them because I’ve realised that they’re bigger and gray-er and more complex. And I hear God’s voice saying “it’sOK”, because He does have perfect answers, and one day I will understand, but in the meantime I can trust Him and know that he is good and loving, even though I don’t have the answers myself.
I learnt that I can trust God even in uncertainty. So as I look ahead to my future, although I have dreams and hopes, I don’t really know exactly what it will look like, I hear God saying “it’s OK”
I don’t dream of what I will be like in 10 years and think that I’ll be prettier and popular-er and more having-it-all-together, like I did when I was 12. Because I think I’ve finally come to peace with where I am now.
Contentment isn’t complacency. It’s not lack of dreaming, or hoping, or desiring more. It’s not giving up and resting on your laurels saying, this is good enough. It is seeing those things. Seeing pain and distress. Seeing potential and opportunity. Seeing the people around you, the people beyond you. Seeing yourself. And hearing God say “it’s OK”. It’s being ready so that when He tells you the next step, and shows you the door to push, you can do it. You can feel the fear, the uncertainty and you can know “It’s OK”. It’s realising that God is God, and there is no other. That there is a time and season for everything under heaven, and that God will make everything beautiful in his time. It’s OK. He’s got this