“O heart remember, Remember what you said to me. These words hold me in bad times.”
Psalm 119: 49-56
My sister celebrated turning 40 this week. It feels more real than when I became this age myself. Maybe shes my little sister and if she is that old, then perhaps I am even older, which is genuinely terrifying.
We sat together as a family celebrating her turning of age, and we sobbed. My dad is not doing that great these days, and it’s hard to recalibrate our hearts amid the tragedy. Then I read Psalm 119. It has been my balm in this season of so much transition.
“Remember what you said to your servant- I hang onto these words for dear life.”
Psalm 119: 49
Sitting in a lounge room last night on a writers retreat with my dear friends, we laughed and laughed remembering. There is something so cathartic about this art of remembrance that helps us to find our way again.
Some days it’s hard to remember the promises we knew so potently from a season that’s passed. It is often in these days that it is hard to hold on to the person you used to be and stay true.
Then I remember,
I remember His faithfulness,
I remember His constant truth,
God, you stay constant in a world that is full of movement, loss and transition. Please help me to remember. Could you help me to release that which no longer belongs in today?
It’s a new day. How do I lean towards that spacious place of knowing?
It is an opportunity to release the old ways of thinking but also to remember the faithfulness of days passed. I am honouring that which I can not change, staying present to the places that call me towards peace in my today.
What do you need to remember amid your current stories?
“Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever – your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.”
Psalm 119: 42-46
Our world is writhing in pain; one could say it is in labour pains. There is no easy way to say it, and there are no fast solutions. It is both/and. Have you ever thought something was black and white and then a perspective shifts, changing everything?
Lately, I have been reading and re-reading the same Psalm and finding present tense inspiration from its poetry from centuries past.
“Then I’ll be able to stand up to their mockery. Don’t deprive me of your truth.”
Psalm 119: 42 (the message)
I have walked alongside the pain and the after-effects of bullying for a few years with one of my children. It was something that one could laugh off quickly, but the reoccurring isolation and loneliness have been longlasting.
Social Media has felt like that same childhood battleground. Name-calling, shaming and public debates, outlined with the premise of activism. Each side brings misconduct, abuse, and the violence brings with it pain. Their voices cry out, desperately asking someone, anyone to listen and heal their grief. We desperately want to walk into the wide, free, open spaces of liberty and truth, but we struggle to apply the truth of commandments in our every day.
I often see activists, so passionate in their pursuit of the truth, but they petition with arrogance and lose sight of the voice of the person they are advocating for.
It is both/and.
Shame pervades every letter typed on a screen, shoulds, could, what-ifs and didn’t you know.
You haven’t posted!
What you have said is wrong, didn’t you know that?
That statement is patriarchal, sarcasm inserted.
That empathy is disempowering.
Activism does not give you the right to shame and mock another person’s perspective. When we access our advocacy from a place of hierarchy we forget that the education and understanding that we have, comes from a place of privilege.
You see, there are no quick fixes or words that aptly describe the problem that has been a problem for the whole existence of humanity. It is an oppression problem. It is a justice problem. It is an inequality problem. It is a distribution of wealth problem. And every single one of us contributes to the meta-narrative.
Until we all acknowledge our role and part to play in this supply chain, no transformation can begin to occur. And unless we sit in the seat of the learner and listen to one another’s stories, then how can we possibly bring change that is sustainable and long-lasting?
It all comes back to the foundation of trust. I have been learning change the way that we relate to one another and each of our lived experiences. These building blocks of trust within relationships and complex times have helped remind me of the importance of different perspectives to build empathy.
SPEAK UP WITH INTEGRITY– Are you actually living what you are posting about?
LISTEN TO HEAR– Are you listening to speak or hear?
VULNERABILITY BUILDS TRUST– Are you able to honestly share your own failures?
SHARE INFORMATION FREELY– Do you reveal all your sources and the places you have to gain insight from?
EMPOWER OTHERS– What is the agenda behind your advocacy? (Is it to make yourself gain or another?)
We all long for peaceful, wide-open spaces free from oppression but guard your heart, my dear internet friends. Question your motives, speak up for those who have lost their voices and do everything you can to sit in the seat of the learner rather than the one with all the answers.
I am learning that He is able, despite all of our complexity and pain. I want His ways above my own. I want His truth, above a filtered one. I want to see freedom come with peace in its path.
How are you building trust in this uncommon season?
In the midst of the brand new season I find myself in, I have been sorting out cupboards diligently across our family home. It is an important way that I have learnt to release the old and step into the new. The way we transition changes our capacity for the new. This week I started a new role and I am stepping back from social media for a season to surrender my attention to my new team.
Amid all this change, I found myself sorting out my underwear drawer (please don’t write me letters).
I personally have a favourite style of underwear, don’t be shy, I am sure you do too. My husband does also (although he would be mortified at my choice of topic on my blog this week). It made me smile to think of the style I bought pre-parenthood and post little people taking over my whole, entire world. I look for my favourite pair as I sort through my drawer full of such things. And the day always begins in a very bad way if those preferential bottom covering friends are all hanging on the washing line out to dry.
I am looking for support.
I am looking for staying-in-placeability.
I am looking for flexibility.
I am looking for stability.
These deep breaths of comfort tell me everything will be okay. If I choose one of the left-behinds, I regret that quick choice for most of the day. The more organised amongst us would throw away all the ones that have not made the favourite cut. Maybe that could be this evenings job.
As I read Psalm 119 this week I interweaved these two random thoughts together. As blasphemous as this sounds, I have come to know and experience the older that I get, that God’s comforting voice is like my favourite pair of undies.
Recently I was standing in the kitchen with my son, talking to him about his “psychic powers” (smile). As he pokemoned me with his language and passion, I simply reframed his thinking and said to him “Babes, your powers are prophetic, not psychic” his head tipped with intrigue.
I said to him “You see I have found in my life that God speaks to me, it is a simple, soft voice but this is the way that I hear his direction and knowledge for the steps in the future” he smiled deeply and said something profound that I have not been able to shake…
Max said “Mum, I know what you are talking about now. I hear a voice in my mind. The voice is soft and kind” then with tears in his eyes he said, “Mum the voice sounds just like yours…”
“Let your love, shape my life”
There is a shaping happening in all of our lives, whether we acknowledge the influence or not we are being supported, comforted and shaped by those in which we spend most of our time.
Moments of intimate knowledge. In my life, I have found God to be my greatest comfort in my difficult times of need. I have sometimes found that we make renewal sound so much fancier and spirituality is explained in ethereal and fancy ways.
And the thought of describing God’s love and comfort like a pair of our favourite pair of old underwear can seem a little irreverent but I find God to be gritty, reliable, constant and actually so very basic.
His love is basic and nurturing, reassuring me to take that next step of courage.
“Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not piling up loot”
Psalm 119: 34
It has taken me hours to sit and write today. Something so small, simple and routine that empowers every art of procrastination possible. I know if I sit and write, then I will process and focus, but to actually surrender to the process is so hard.
The honest process of showing up to a blank page is a wrestle of my will. Every time I pick up my pen something distracts me. A phone call, the oven I turned on and forgot about…the list continues on.
I’ve tried to procrastinate my way out of this but the result is futile.
How distracted are you lately?
Psalm 119 draws us into a rhythm of resilience. A way that we surrender to those disciplines that build strength and fortitude, even through the toughest seasons. I have been coming back to this same Psalm, every day over the last few months, to help find a rhythm in a season of in-between.
Seeking out a word of wisdom helps us to find the inspiration we are looking for to begin again. The surrender of our will towards that which brings growth and an honest word brings the satisfaction we are looking for. Why is it so hard though?
We live in an era of distraction. Lately, I have had a reoccurring thought keep coming back to me.
"Work in silence, let success be your noise"
We live in a society and culture that tells us to speak loudly, to chant our proclamations across the airwaves and to shout louder and louder. This pursuit of social platforms is distracting us from the true work of growth and discovery. A piling of notifications, telling us that we are making a difference. But what if all the hours, all the time we have given to social media and building our audiences, is distracting us from the deep work that is calling us within?
Throughout this season of transition, how distracted have you been?
I love this verse when it cuts straight to the chase…
“Give me a bent for your words of wisdom and not piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets.”
Psalm 119: 34-35
Those shiny things, the internet rabbit holes, the promises that if we just buy one more thing, that feeling of distraction and disappointment would be filled with satisfaction. Online shopping, another pen, one more outfit, maybe a new notebook…
“Yes, that is the answer!”
However, I am learning that things, will never replace the work required to show up to a blank page and do the work of transformation. This is where true satisfaction comes. This is where I face my dark spots and I remember the promises I made to both my future and self, to overcome those places of distraction, to grow again.
Wisdom is not found in a catalogue online, it is developed across seasons of listening deeply and facing those truths that we would rather forget.
Wisdom is carved in our heart as we return to quiet places of prayer.
Wisdom is dug from the crevices of telling the truth and owning our responses.
Wisdom is uncovered when we listen deeply, rather than just responding in defence.
A few months ago we would have laughed at this verse in scripture and thought quickly “I would never pile up loot, toys and trinkets to try and satisfy my hungry soul” and then March happened. Toilet paper became scarce, you couldn’t find flour on the shelves and baking powder became a commodity.
Our world became desperate for the things we thought we needed to stay safe and secure. Yet wisdom asks us to remember that toys, trinkets and supplies will only meet some of our needs. It is the deeper words of wisdom, that hold us steady in times of desperation and despair.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets. Help me surrender once again to the power of Your word alone.
Amanda’s latest book Dear Creative Self can be purchased here:
Guide me down the road of your commandments. I love travelling this freeway.
Psalm 119: 35
Today I am writing from a place of frustration.
It’s okay, I am learning to feel all the feelings that in the past I would have suppressed. I would have numbed with Netflix and chocolate or maybe even gotten angry about something that had nothing to do with this frustration. Today I write and you are my companion in healing. It is the places that we take these feelings, to find a resolution that can be the hardest lesson to learn.
Where do you take your frustrations?
The funny thing is, it is these moments that become the stories that others tell about us and the stories that we tell ourselves. Our emotions become our indicators that frame the stories of our life. The legacy that we leave behind. They are retold over and over, they become the maps of our future.
Over the last few months, I have been reading daily Psalm 119. I have been sitting to reflect over its poetry and allowing the words to bring insight for this season. It is the theme of my current blog series called STAY THE COURSE. Exploring the highs and lows, the confusion and the anxiety that has pervaded this year of clarity 2020.
At the beginning of this year, I wrote on my office whiteboard “I will choose abundance in every area of my life this year, even if the people I encounter do not understand it.” This morning I wiped my big whiteboard clean, ready for a new six-month journey and I rewrote that statement again.
“I will choose abundance in EVERY area of my life this year, EVEN if the people I encounter do not understand it”
If you read my Gallup strengths finder test, you would see that one of my top strengths is strategy and connectedness but also there is a word on the test results that I have never really understood until this season of clarity. The word that is on my test is “Arranger”. I am driven to arrange things.
If you ask my husband, we never really disagree on much except this one thing. The arrangement of things. As we zoom out perspective on the year 2020 it has been a year of displacement for so many. As an arranger, I spend lots of my time trying to land projects, arrange projects and ideas in my head and this displacement has been terribly unsettling.
Have you felt a sense of displacement this year?
Last week the principal of my children’s school retired after many years of amazing service to primary schools in our state. As we arrived at school on the day of the departure my daughter spotted the new principal and yelled out the car as we arrived at school. She said, “So glad that you get to be the spare principal”.
This memory has made me laugh many times this week, but its a word in season for many I believe in this season of transition. With jobs lost and restrictions in place. With routines that are frustrating and rules that seem so unhelpful. We all kinda fall into the spare category. Its the season of leftovers, rules and it has all left us scratching our heads. When we would normally think we are in control of the decisions that affect the road we are walking upon, the upheaval has created new unwritten rules that we didn’t even know existed.
As a family we are currently trying to get my Dad into a care facility as his Motor Neuron Disease is moving fast. In the midst of COVID restrictions, however, nursing homes won’t allow children under 16 to visit and they also won’t allow day release (for special occasions like the football derby smile) and the displacement that is felt is devastating. It is impossible to try and think of my dad spending his last days in a nursing home and they won’t let him hold his new grandchild.
Then I return to Psalm 119:35 and the verse “Guide me down the road of your commandments. I love travelling this freeway”. Reminding my heart that there is a way, that is higher above my own. And purpose can be found even in the midst of the most difficult of seasons.
The Holy Spirit is named a Guide in some translations of His name. He is a person that guides and leads us, despite the displacement we may feel. Sometimes those places of frustration, those places of discernment are uncomfortable places. When we allow those emotions and feelings to arise, we can deal with them properly rather than numbing them away.
He guides us into purpose. ( “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18)
He guides us into everlasting ways. (“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth…” John 16: 13)
He guides us towards answers. (Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Psalm 143: 10)
He advocates for us. (“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7
I think sometimes we focus on the end of the road, the arrival destination that is years away. We forget that in the midst of our current season, the Guide is there to help us lean towards those places of displacement, as we lose sight of the beautiful things in this very present moment.
I have come to realise in these moments that I have forgotten to ask the Guide to bring me back to the beautiful freeway that brings life everlasting.
These freeways are wider than we can ever imagine.
These freeways are full of light, love and colourful hope.
These freeways are arranging new and brighter days ahead that bring satisfaction and reward.
We need the greater map, however, to help us find the road that leads to greener and greater pastures. This discomfort found in today is forging a new road for tomorrow, one that is full of purpose and potency.
You are not the story that you keep telling yourself or the story that others keep telling about you. Even if you are stuck in this season of great displacement, there are no lines that can hold you or any decision that can keep you contained. As we lean towards the story that the GUIDE is asking us to trust in, we realise that there is a great awakening, lying deep within.
This is a whole freeway full of purpose, everlasting ways, answers and advocacy. I sat today to write deeply into my frustrations so that I would remind myself there is another way.
What areas are you feeling displacement this year?
Write below in the comments, its a powerful tool for revelation.
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