Most years I write a round-up blog post of what’s gone on that year and I might look at my goals, achievements or all the fun experiences I’ve had, but this year, my end of year post feels quite different. It is about sharing all the growth that has happened in me during the year and as it’s a very personal post, I have decided to place it on here and resurrect this, my faith-based blog.
As a Christian, I’m not supposed to stand still and end the year the same Michelle as I was at the start of it. I’m supposed to change, grow and become more Christlike as I age and mature. Each of the last nineteen years since I gave my life to Christ I have changed and grown but some years it has been more evident than others. I think the last year has seen the most change and growth since 2013/14 and it feels amazing to know I am becoming more secure in my identity as a beloved child of God.
From Head to Heart
You often hear Christians talk of head knowledge and heart knowledge and by this they mean, that you may have learnt what the bible says and your head understands it as the truth; it’s a very logical and cognitive process, but the heart knowledge is about the relationship with Jesus. It is about the deep and personal knowledge that what the Bible says isn’t just for everyone else, but it is for you. It is intimate when it says
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)
It really means that God allowed Jesus to go to the cross and die for me. I mean that much to God. And I’ve known this for years, but I admit it, it has been head knowledge. However, this year, I have come to truly believe, with all my heart, that despite my fat, my unforgiveness, my being judgmental at times that He is here for me and meeting me exactly where I am at and that even if I change for the better and stop all my sin, He will love me and accept me no more than He does right now, right this very moment. I am enough.
I want to jump for joy! I have needed this learning for such a long time and it has only come about as I have allowed God to heal me, for the Holy Spirit to work in me and I have submitted to Him. A verse that has been really ministering to me the last few months is “May your unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76) and it has been really special to finally understand that others can never give me what I need. I have to go to the source, to God and He will provide all I need.
I want to share in this post everything that has happened this year, but in truth, I can’t actually remember all of it, as there has been so much. I do know that I need to thank Caroline, Krisha and Sheila for the help they have given me to process my hurt, anger and grief about so many things that have happened in my life. These three spiritual women have each challenged and supported me and I’ll be forever grateful.
At the end of last year, I had the picture of a pineapple and I felt called to become sweeter. I took this to mean that I needed to let go of my bitterness and to be more accepting and tolerant of others. I bought a few cheap pineapple items and put them in my home and a keyring in my bag and they have acted as a subliminal reminder. Also, in February I read a book called Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown and took an online course about hearing God more clearly, put together by my blogger friend Joanna May Chee. These both really fed into the start of a year of pressing into God and wanting to know Him more, on a personal and deep level.
For months and months, I spent time with God most days to just wait on Him and to see if He could help me be set free from some of the blockages I had. I hadn’t cried for a few years and I knew there was something stopping me, but I wasn’t sure what and despite asking the Holy Spirit to guide me and show me, I wasn’t getting any revelation. When I hit a massive blip in my life at the end of September with troubles with one of my daughters and my husband went off for his sabbatical from work, I wasn’t sure what to do. It was as if I had disconnected myself from the situation and could tell the story as if it had happened to someone else. I knew it was a very sad and distressing situation but I couldn’t feel it.
Kingdom Healing Retreat
Fortunately, I saw an advert on Facebook for a healing retreat at the end of November and despite it being a few hundred quid and meaning I had to disappear from family life for five days I just knew it was important that I did. And I’m so glad. The Kingdom Healing Retreat at the Greenhouse Christian Centre in Poole was led by Dr Angela Walker of THEO ministries and I kid you not when I say it was life-changing for me.
I feel like a new person. I lived and learnt so much in those five days I was away. I bawled my eyes out like a baby and proper ugly cried and it felt so good to be set free of the demons that I didn’t even know still possessed me. Who knew that my teachers’ hurtful words when I was around 8 years old, were still torturing me forty years later? And the wonderful thing now, is that I forgive Mrs Muckle, she didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t intend to harm me, she probably thought she might motivate me to try harder and learn more, but words hurt.
I’ve just got my (very full) notebook out from that retreat and looked at the expectations I wrote for the course and I am pleased to see every one of them was fulfilled. At the end of the course, I wanted to feel again, to be able to cry, to process my past hurts, to know how blessed I am and to know that God loves me without limits. These things are all true. I am a very lucky Michelle.
One of the things I wrote right at the beginning of the course in very big letters was ‘I invite you in Jesus’ and I think I had forgotten that fundamental principle, that God is a gentleman and He will never push Himself upon you, He wants you to invite Him in – be it to your life, the situation, the hurt or whatever.
I learnt lots of new techniques on this course and definitely went deeper into my relationship with God. The first afternoon we had free time and I headed off on my own to spend the afternoon with God crafting. I had a wonderful time being held and adored by my Heavenly Father as I created the cross collage you can see below and I felt all these positive words spoken over me. I am free. I am loved. I am enough. I have a purpose.
As I read back over my notebook there is an overriding message of dumping the fear and living in faith. It’s that old cliché, the Truth will set me free and that’s God’s truth. His word, the bible that communicates to me His overriding love for me. He commands me to keep a short account and to forgive often and keep my spiritual dwelling pure and clean. He wants me to invite His Holy Spirit into my life, and all my daily tasks and problems. This is not a weakness; this is what He has ordained as right. I have learnt I can accept comfort and I can accept help as I am worthy of it.
Knowing I’m More Precious than Rubies
It is good for me to be vulnerable and to take risks. It does not matter if I perceive that others reject me as God never will. I felt a strong sense during one of the sessions that I am ‘beloved, beautiful, His bestie and I belong’. This was very affirming as I looked at the four words and realised, they all started with Be and this reminded me of the lesson I learned back in 2006, that I am a human being and not a human doing. That what God expects from me, is to just be, just as he created me. I don’t have to do anything to earn His love.
During one of the ministry sessions, I felt these verses strongly
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NLT) and “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 3.:15 (NIV).
I then had a sense I was supposed to buy myself a new ring, maybe a ruby one, so that each time I looked at it I could be reminded of the Father’s love for me. We talked in the course about a ring signifying belonging and so this felt right. I have now bought myself a ring and it has a dual purpose. I went for a diamond ring, as I am more precious than rubies and the stone that is more precious is a diamond. I also got an eternity ring as this year I’ll celebrate twenty years of marriage to Adam and God has ordained us to be together for eternity, so this is the symbolism of my commitment to my marriage, however tough it may feel.
In this same session, I came to the realisation, with gentle prompting from the Holy Spirit that I had rejected myself. I had ostracised myself and made me the bad guy. Being overweight equalled not worthy. But it is a lie. I know this now. I was believing the Devils lies and allowing him to dictate my path. No more. I belong to God only and I welcome back my rejected self. I am whole again.
Prophetic writing was a skill I practised whilst on the course and it is something I want to continue in the future as I found it an amazing way to freely hear what God was saying to me. He dictated a beautiful love letter to me, as well as instructing and encouraging me. He was also able to guide me to see pictures of my family and view them just as He sees them. That was a very special gift.
I left Poole with a stronger sense of worth. I now believe that God has a purpose for me and that He wants me to live a full life. Not limiting myself by saying no to things as I am scared I’ll fail or be too fat and make a fool of myself. He says I am beautiful and worthy and He has given me a spirit of Yes. On New Year’s Eve I was reflecting on what my word for the year ahead might be and all that kept coming to mind was ‘yes’ and I wasn’t too sure, but reading back over my notes from this retreat, numerous times I wrote that God had given me a spirit of yes and that this means bravery.
So yes God. I am here and I’m saying yes to all of it. Take me on this crazy journey of life that you have planned for me and I’ll participate and play my part. YES!