who: searching for our true soul identity

ballerina on a rock - who_ searching for our true soul identity @poetryjoy.com

Our true soul identity isn’t always clear. Who we are deep inside can become distorted in a complex maze of roles, labels, problems and pain. Especially if we assimilate flawed views and opinions of ourselves over the years.

As children we can be parented and nurtured well or damaged by careless handling and bad experiences. Such things help shape our perspective. They can also create a false persona we try hard to live up to.

Thankfully, there is someone who has a clear-eyed view of who we are. Our true identity is safe with God. He sees our hidden self. The parts we feel ashamed of and hide from others. The truth of who we are deep down.

God sees into the depths of our soul. He knows our heart and what we are capable of. He sees all we are in the process of becoming by His grace. He loves us unconditionally, unreservedly and eternally. I know who I am because I know the awe-inspiring, holy I AM Himself. It’s a great relief and a huge blessing to be so well known and yet so amazingly loved.

Who

her real identity was swallowed up
in a dark, murky sea of hurt and pain
washed with woundedness, false guilt
and shame, because she didn’t know
who she was or how to reclaim herself

her who became her do as she
sought to find herself in tasks
and helping others, but deep
inside she ached and cried with a
hollow void, and she lost her voice

until God revealed the way back
to being herself, to being whole
was through the cross of Jesus Christ
his beloved Son, and her true soul
identity, her “who” was wrapped up
in his mercy, grace and endless love

instead of worrying about her loss
she could open up like a fragrant
flower, spill out her life in writing
words and prayer, let her focus shift
toward Whose she has become by
faith, who she is now in his embrace
© joylenton

who - searching for our true soul identity poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m sharing my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing community. This week’s prompt is ‘who’. You are welcome to join us. Just click here to read the great variety of posts being share. 🙂

praise: the secret power of praising God in life’s storms

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms @poetryjoy.com

Praise tends to fall easily from our lips when life is good and we see visible signs that we are blessed. We feel happy and content because all seems to be right with our world. But what about when the sky darkens or falls in for us? What then?

Praising God during life’s storms can feel like an impossible thing to do. Yet praise is a powerful weapon to defeat discouragement and lift our mind and heart back to God. If we can open ourselves to God and lay all our cares at His feet, we can also learn how to praise and trust Him to meet all our needs even before we see it happening.

I’ve experienced this myself. On days when light was eclipsed in my soul and I was locked inside myself, drowning in feelings I didn’t want to have. Maybe you’ve been there too? Or are suffering that way now? 

May I encourage you to let Jesus into your pain filled places. Invite God to be Lord of your sadness, sorrow and loss. Ask Him to help, heal and lift you up. It’s a heart cry prayer He will always answer.

Such thoughts shaped my (slightly more than 5 minutes) poem. I hope and pray it will be a blessing to you, my friend.

Praise

her countenance is clouded
darkened by circumstance
head drooping low to ground
soul feels like it’s chained down

she can barely register anything or
think clearly, hear others speaking
because her mind and heart are gripped
hard, caught up in turmoil and pain

then she hears a voice urging her
to look up and lift her sad gaze
to him, to raise her head higher
see her Lord standing here by her

because it is here, in the midst
of hardship and pain that he
whispers his encouragement
urges her to begin again

here? now? she cannot fathom how
nevertheless, she listens, begins
to murmur softly in her heart and
ignite a small thanksgiving spark

praise starts as a tiny seed within
a sacrificial offering, often scraped
from a raw place, then flowering
into tears, words, deeds and grace

now he gently whispers her name
pulls her out of the miry pit she
is in, helps her to stand strong today
on the solid ground of faith and praise
© joylenton

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms - praise poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I praise God for having a writing space and thoughts to share as I join fellow wordsmiths over at five-minute-friday today. The prompt is ‘praise’. You are very welcome to join in. Just click here to read the great posts being shared.  🙂

share: God’s unconditional love encourages us to share and trust

share - God's unconditional love encourages us to share and trust @poetryjoy.com

Love wore many faces for me as a child. Not all of them welcome or healthy. I didn’t experience unconditional, fully accepting and embracing love until I invited Christ into my heart in my late teens.

Even though I was, and still am, very willing to share the wondrous things God has done for me, I’ve found that opening up about a painful past and sharing my wounded, imperfect self with others has proved challenging over the years.  But we all need safe places to vent and people we trust to share ourselves with.

Now I am in a better place than in my wary childhood days. A spacious place because I have been redeemed by grace. And as I’ve found courage enough to write and spill my story instead of hiding away, I give God the glory for opening up wider avenues of confidence and trust, of love and faith. Those “you too?” moments mean so much and are well worth the vulnerability we choose to expose to others by sharing our hearts.

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” – Psalm 18:19

To share or not to share

she kept her heart locked tight
unwilling to open up
one person had an invite
flooded it with his love

a slow warming, thawing
as icy layers began to melt
he continued to pour more in
unafraid of her tumult

dirty corners were cleansed
cobwebbed thoughts expunged
she didn’t have to make amends
he took the mess upon himself

to share or not to share
a daily life dilemma
wanting to disappear
the silent death of her

he breathed a purer air
he spoke a new language
mercy and grace appeared
as he took away her anguish
© joylenton

share - to share or not to share poem (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m delighted to be sharing my five minute poem with the wonderful wordsmiths in the five-minute-friday community.  This week’s prompt is: “share”. You are warmly invited to join in and read the great posts being shared. 🙂

seeds: seeing potential in our small offerings

seeds_ seeing potential in our small offerings @poetryjoy.com

Do you ever feel like you have little of real worth to contribute? Does your seemingly small offering feel like nothing compared to that of others? It’s a thought that often plagues writers and creatives, especially when the flow stalls for a while and we fear it’s lost for ever.

Maybe you look at your life through jaundiced eyes, trying to assess achievements and success? We can easily lose heart when we compare ourselves with others. What helps get us back on track is accepting seasons of plenty and lack, being content and believing how very much we are loved. Just. As. We. Are. And knowing any offering we give to God is never wasted in His hands.

“I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.” – Philippians 4:12 Amplified Bible

We have intrinsic worth and value in God’s eyes. Whether we’re able to produce a lot or not. All He asks is for us to be willing to surrender ourselves and our lives into His hands. 🌻 Then watch how He brings beauty out of ashes. 🌻 A harvest of righteousness from our brokenness. Hope and joy out of what seems withered or dead.

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:4 TLB

Potential

it seemed far too small
a tiny thing to offer him
still she gave it all
and it made her heart sing

in the laying down
her seeds of life and faith
she knew she didn’t own
how they would be displayed

in her faltering hands
they resembled dust and ashes
handfuls of broken dreams
waiting to be resurrected

but he saw great potential
in every tear, hurt and pain
as she surrendered it all
he blew away each trace of shame

there was a long waiting time
when her soul sank, despaired
before the eventual rise and shine
flowered hope, joy and happy tears
© joylenton

seeds - poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Five minutes (ish) – yes, I frequently go over a bit –  is a small amount of time in which to write. However, God graces us with words to share as we commit our thoughts and time to Him. Today’s poem has been written in response to this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘potential’. Come follow me here to join fellow word wranglers and read the great variety of posts being shared. 😊💜

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain - girl sitting with dried autumn leaves

Do you ever get times when you find you dwell far more on your brokenness than on God’s grace? When one more failure seems to suggest you’re unworthy in yourself? And social media, coupled with advertising, constantly reminds you how flawed, inadequate and incomplete you are? I do.

Your triggers might differ from mine, but whatever the cause it’s often hard to move on from our brokenness or fight back against discouragement, isn’t it? We can forget how very broken we all are before God and that He doesn’t demand perfection from us. We can forget that God’s grace covers all our sins, failures and mistakes.

We can forget what powerful discouragement fighting weapons we have in the practice of gratitude, prayer and praise. In seeking solace in Scripture’s rich promises. In simply asking someone for help when we’re out of our depth or find it hard to pray for ourselves.

I don’t like inhabiting the doldrums for long. And I am always relieved when God offers a loving arm to pull me out, especially when it comes unexpectedly through a five-minute-friday word prompt.

I am always lifted as I find a poem taking shape that expresses my feelings and reveals the solution as well, while God whispers Hope to my soul. He will do the same for you, too, my friend, in the way your heart needs to receive it.

Made complete

there’s a hollow ache
rattling around inside
issuing from the place
where I often seek to hide

it’s calling out my name
telling me I’m not enough
fuelling me with shame
I’m unworthy to be loved

then I hear another voice
warm as honey in my soul
filled with hope and grace
promising I can be whole

my deep brokenness
is no deterrent here
it’s a vehicle via which
my Saviour will appear

he knows all about my pain
whispers solace to my heart
makes me complete again
frees me from sin and dark

all I considered lost
broken beyond repair
is redeemed at the Cross
a gift beyond compare
© joylenton

I’m grateful God doesn’t wait for us to clean up our act before coming to Him, and He always has a place in His heart for the prodigals, the broken and lost.

complete - poem excerpt (C) joylenton - sad girl sitting on a bed @poetryjoy.com

I’m thankful for being given the means to share my poem with the wrangling wordsmiths that make up the fabulous #fiveminutefriday community. You are very welcome to join in or click here to read the great posts being shared. This week’s prompt is: ‘Connect’.  🙂

tripping: how God meets with us when life gets tough – snapshot #3

tripping - how God uses everything we go through - snapshot #3

We’re caught by surprise sometimes on attempting things we used to do before with relative ease but now find challenging. I’m largely housebound and incapacitated by chronic illness, but I can still totter around my small home and navigate a few steps (albeit painfully and slowly) most of the time.

But set my feet on concrete, ask me to pound pavement, and I’m all over the place, unsteady as can be. I have bad balance, limb stiffness, weakness and pain to contend with, which makes walking very slow, arduous at best and impossible at worst, when the territory is uneven.

Years ago I realised that a wheelchair was the best mode of transport for me. Sadly, there wasn’t anyone reliably able, available and fit enough to take me out in one, so I only borrowed a set of wheels when it was absolutely necessary.

I made a trip to the city recently and thought I would try to get there by bus, knowing how hard it can be to park the car.  I wanted to try stretching my limbs and limits (maybe you can relate?) in the vain hope of being able to accompany my grandson home from his first day at school next week.

Dear reader, I struggled. Pain was severe and I nearly cried out loud. I halted several times and barely covered one third of the necessary distance to reach my school collection goal. We caught a taxi home.

Later on, as I sat with frustration, I looked at my photos and wrote a poem about the experience. It was a surprise grace gift, arising from a hard thing, such as God delights to provide for you and me. Things don’t seem so bad when viewed from God’s perspective. I can’t manage the walk but I can be the one welcoming our grandson home at the door.

God is constantly rewriting our stories, blending them into His greater narrative. What seems to be causing us to fall just might lift our souls more than we can know. I’m grateful for God’s keeping power and my dependence on Him, even if my story has taken several unwanted twists and turns.

tripping - God is constantly rewriting our stories quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here’s the tanka pentaptych poem that arose from my tough time above…

Tripping

visit to the city
idle bus window browsing
I need new specs
I like my life blurry
not in such sharp focus

people mill
cluster around attractions
bright eared hares
decorating the pavement
we see them everywhere

I’m unsteady
my gait uneasy outside
like a drunk
I stumble and cling hard
holding on to stick and arm

these sea legs
wobble over cobbles
trip on the cracks
cannot go far without sinking
I feel like turning back

air is crisp
scent of leaves, fuel, flowers
August at an end
much is dead or dying
pain reminds me I’m alive
© joylenton

How has God met you at your point of need? Have you been able to trace His hand in the hard experiences of life? Let’s encourage one another in the comments below.

tripping tanka poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand – snapshot #2

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand - snapshot #2

Our local Lord Mayor’s Procession in July concludes spectacularly, with a brief but rather wonderful firework display. The best thing?  We have a direct view of the free light show it provides from our back garden, even if I have to try to balance on the rockery to see it properly.  🙂

Thankfully, there’s a pretty good view to be had from the front of the house as well. No gymnastics required! Several people line the street to ooh and ahh their way through the firework display. I often try to capture some of it on my phone, with mixed results.

Using a firework mode involves trying to hold the phone steady for the few seconds it takes to create the image. Patience is required. As it is for the best things in life. Though I can miss quite a bit by seeking to secure a memory.

Writing about an experience, especially when I pen the poetic, enables me to recover the magic and savour the joy for a bit longer. I actually took the firework images here and was so gratified by the way they turned out!

Fireworks appeal to all age groups. We enjoy the anticipation and delight that ensues. With showers of coloured light appearing out of nowhere. All of us love to experience a bit of wonder in our lives, especially when it’s unexpected and flares like neon in the dark.

God loves to give us unexpected blessings and graces. His hand on the minutiae of our lives is nothing short of miraculous and can often feel magical. Sometimes we see Him in fireworks. Sometimes He’s the quiet voice sitting by the fire with us.

Fireworks

night squiggles
neon bright, flaring sharp
colour dances
a ballet in the dark
we watch closely, entranced
© joylenton

fireworks tanka poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com