Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Never too late, Never rejected

I was staying at Coffs Harbour in a caravan park near the beach, so I set my alarm to see the sunrise one morning.   But before the alarm went off I woke to light streaking through the curtain in my room.  “Darn it,” I thought. I missed it. 

But I decided to still throw my clothes on, grab my camera bag and start running towards the beach to see what I could see. Having arrived late the previous night, I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I was running toward the sound of the sea, down a marked track. It was the longest track ever to get to beach.  On my way, I realised I had forgotten my glasses, my socks were slipping down to my toes in my shoes which made it all more uncomfortable and challenging, I was now wet from all the thick grass I was wading through, and to think only 10 minutes ago I was warm, dry and cosy in my bed.

I was sure I had missed the sunrise.  I could hear the waves. They were on my right hand side. The track seemed to lead everywhere but to them. As I continued to run through the thick scrub, waiting for the track to veer towards the sound of the waves, I was thinking, “What am I doing? I’ve missed it and I don’t even know if I am running in the right direction”.  Cleary I was not very well prepared. The kangaroo further down the path looked at me as if to say, “a little late mate”. I barrelled onward as he jumped into the bush to get out of my way.

Part of me felt like giving up, but what the heck, I had come this far, so might as well finish this adventure. Finally I came to the clearing, wet, puffing and hoping I had everything in my camera to even take a photo. At this stage it wouldn't have surprised me what else I had forgotten. The sun had been up for a while but it was behind a thin, but large set of clouds as if to say, “I have started, Tammy, but come on in and watch the tail end. It will be worth it. I am glad you made it. I saved the best till last.” 

Then, there it was. His beauty, His cleverness, His light calling me to look, to gaze. It drew all of my attention. I could not look away. I am glad I made it, even if it was late.

Sometimes we might feel we are a little too late, unprepared, hurried, lost, confused, not know where we are going or even uncomfortable. I know in those 20 minutes I certainly felt all those things.  But He still says come, enjoy, you’re  always welcome. 

On my long walk home I discovered I went the long way right around the beach into that next cove. I clearly missed the sign that said “2 mins to the beach”, but it turned out to be the much better view, a much better vantage point to view the sunrise, a much prettier cove to land in. I am glad I did not give up. I am glad that even though I was late, unprepared and a little lost…He still met me. His love still shone on me and said, “Good morning.” His beauty still amazed me and He did not disappoint.

Come to think about it, I feel like this in many aspects of ministry and life. There are not many times when I am about to speak or lead or sing or run something, when I don’t think, “What am I doing here? I feel unprepared (which for me usually means not good enough), confused, uncomfortable.”  I just want to turn and go back to my safe, warm alone space.  At some point of each day as a mum, parent and friend I can feel hurried, lost, not good enough, wanting to give up and hide.  But His love pulls me forward, challenges me to keep on going, to keep turning up, keep bringing whatever I have to offer, as confused and messy and unprepared as it sometimes feels.  His welcoming beauty always accepts my offering and is really happy that I show up, even if it is a little late, wet and puffed. He draws my attention.  I cannot look away, I cannot quit, I will never leave, because His constant truth and love spur me on. He accepts and loves me just as I am. Thank you for this constant reminder.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

What did I hear from you today? - Communication within marriage is not always easy

Communication is a tough challenge at the best of times but it is especially so when emotions are involved. David and I have been married 27 years and been together 32 years, you would think that after all these years we would have mastered it by now.

We know enough to know that we have two different responses to misunderstanding. One of us retreats and one of us attacks, it doesn’t really matter who does what, what matters is being aware of it and working through it. We know enough about our temperaments to know that one likes to fix and one just wants the other to listen. When it comes to a place where we just don’t see eye to eye, it can be a very hard and confusing place to be.

One way that we have found a way through is to give each other space to ask the question “What did I hear from you today?”. They say “time out” is great for kids, well I think it is mandatory for good communication. 

Not so long ago our day began with a misunderstanding, it was clear that we just weren’t able to hear each other, it was not a nice start to the day.  In this instance, the key is to know when to call a “time out”. It is never nice to leave things unresolved, but this particular day we were not getting anywhere and I am not sure who called the “time out” first but we were both relieved when it happened. He left the house and drove to work, I sat in a slump and did what most women do, just cried. 

I am a writer, so it helps me to process things by writing. I love how God meets me there often and “Time out” with Him is always Healing and comforting. After a while I decided to send Dave an email answering the question “What did I hear from you today?”.... the ”Ï” statements are important, even if you don’t start there, make sure that’s where you land before you press send. Even if this is not what the other person actually said, it is important to try to hear what each other are hearing. 

I have been in conversations with people who are hurting or frustrated and trying to work things out with their partners and you know it just can’t go anywhere if they are speaking with statements “he just won’t listen, she is the problem, they will just not see my point of view, he is wrong, she is hurting me.” 

I finished the email by saying....
Please pray for me, I am broken and I am scared. Please pray that God speaks to you with clarity, so we can be on this journey together as I don’t want to do this alone.

Dave responded very quickly with a phone call to say that the email really helped him understand what I was hearing and that we would talk again tonight and try to clarify the misunderstandings.

So quickly the “I” and the “me” quickly became “we” again as we work hard to keep our communication open, because we are willing to ask the question “what did I hear from you today?” and that day we were willing to really listen to each other.