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. 🙂

normal: living beyond our limitations

 

What does it mean to be ‘normal’? Is there such a thing? I guess it depends on your personal definition, doesn’t it? Because the world will always try to compartmentalise, squash us into boxes and confine us in its own straitjackets, if we let it.

The good news is God created each and every one of us unique. And we answer to Him alone, defined only by what His word says about us and who we are in Christ. That thought comforts me as I aim to live well with M.E and chronic illness.

You and I don’t have to fit within the world’s narrow (and frequently judgemental) parameters. We are special to God, understood completely by Him, if no-one else. God wants us to grow into the best version of ourselves we can be by His grace, to know we are His cherished Beloved.

I miss some of the activities I used to do before illness made being housebound a normality for me, especially spending summer days at the beach. Here in Norfolk we are blessed to have a few within driving distance.

However, they are often hard to access by foot (or wheelchair) once you’ve parked, with their steep inclines, long, winding pathways and uneven, pebbly stones to traverse, never mind distance from car to beach.

It’s been an outing I’ve had to forego for years because the car journey alone would exhaust me. Though I still travel there fondly in my memories, as in the poem below…

Normal for Norfolk

The sea tosses back and forth with wild, hyperactive
froth churning up thick rivers of mud, reflecting the sanded
character of a Norfolk beach, whose waters are latte-brown
with a side shot of espresso hiccupped out now and then

There’s a roar that steals away our words, deafening
as it drowns out all sound apart from its own
and we wonder anew at the way waves crash so
violently, yet dissipate into delicate filigrees

A surging wind stings our cheeks with saline drops
which wake us up, catch away our breath, bring tears
to stinging eyes and a gasp of surprise at its velocity
making unsteady, giddy skittles out of you and me
©joylenton

 

How do you view your life in terms of being ‘normal’ or otherwise?

What helps you to retain a positive outlook?

I’d love to hear in the comments below. 😊

PS: I’ve been writing about  the calming effects of the sea over on my Facebook page. You can find it here and read the #dailyhaiku #novembernugget posts being shared. May the soul snippets of poetry bless you, friend. ❤

story: owning the story of our lives #thedailyhaiku 31

 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have wanted to disown the story I am living, rewrite it differently and choose an alternative narrative arc. Maybe you have too. So what does owning our story look like? 

As a woman of faith, I venture to suggest it looks like seeing our lives as a small but highly significant part of God’s greater narrative. In the story He is telling throughout history, we all have a part to play. You matter. Your life isn’t a mistake or an accident.

I grew up thinking (hoping?) I must have been adopted, such was the disconnect between me and my family of origin. Later on, hearing how my mother had taken measures to try to stop the pregnancy from continuing, my insecure feelings grew stronger.

Then God happened. He’d been there right at conception, of course, planned for me to live at such a time as this, to be born into the generation I belong to and the family where I arose from but failed to see myself as cherished.

I was born prematurely and against the odds. I was meant to be here. And to survive whatever life threw at me. I was also born to bloom and thrive because of belonging to the family of God. 

Once I came to faith in Christ, my  wounded soul brokenness was no surprise to Him, only a recognisable state we all struggle with to varying degrees. I finally woke up to the fact that I was unconditionally loved—by Almighty God Himself.

It has taken me a while to own the story of my life, filled with brokenness and emotional pain as the years have been, plus decades of health challenges. But that’s only viewing it from a purely human perspective.

Now I am able to see how God poured out His mercy and grace, loved me immeasurably, tenderly wiped away the tears and gave me a brand new start through Jesus.

I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who adores me, a loving family and close friends. I no longer want to disown the story of my life. Instead, I am willing to speak out about how much God has changed and glorified it by His grace. And He will do it for you too, my friend.

Owning my story

I claim this story
the life I live, holding it
shyly—out to you

you gather pieces
of my brokenness and give
them back to me—whole

and in your eyes, wide
as the ocean swells, I see
sweet mercy and grace

caught in a net of love
with no thought of escape, here
I will stay—always
©joylenton

We’ve made it! This is the last post in #thedailyhaiku series for October’s #write31days marathon reading/writing challenge. It’s been a joy and sweet encouragement to have your company here. Thank you! If you want to catch up with the rest of the posts, please click here.  And look out for a surprise bonus tomorrow!  🙂 ❤

rooted: building a strong foundation with God #thedaikyhaiku 16

 

What we are rooted in has a hold on us, especially if our roots go deep. It pays to choose good soil to become our heart’s home. And to take care of it. Or we might be led astray by garden envy, thinking things look greener over the other side of the fence.

Though our neighbour’s seemingly lush vegetation could be concealing a venomous snake, deadly insects or poisonous plants for all we know. Thankfully, God only calls us to tend to our own plot, plough the furrow before us and stay true to His desires for our life.

Recently, on reading Matthew 13:1-9, I was made aware that if my roots don’t go deep in Christ then I am subject to being scorched and withered from the heat and fire of adversity in life.

Without a healthy and sufficient root system in our lives, we can wither and perish. We may bloom freely and easily for a while but our budding faith is not sustainable when challenges come, or enough to keep us strong and flourishing for more than one short season at the most.

“Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered.” – Matthew 13:5-6

To live the life Jesus promises us will require tending well to the garden of our hearts. It might look something like this:

  • discover where weeds appear to be strangling emerging plants and uproot them straight away
  • sow seeds that will produce the right kind of fruit and harvest we want to grow there
  • water and feed it with the best nutrients we can access, namely God’s Word, our hope and faith and His love, mercy and grace.

rooted

faith, hope, charity

a life can be built on these

rooted strong as trees

©joylenton

we require ripening time #thedailyhaiku 8

 

It doesn’t take long in the walk of faith before we realise that lasting change isn’t usually swift to come to us and neither is the sanctification process. Rather, we spend our time alternating between resting and resisting, going solo and surrendering to God.

However, we needn’t become discouraged as we journey on with the Lord, because every pausing place is opportunity to receive God’s grace. Each step of faith we take gets us closer in our experience of intimacy with God. Even the faltering ones whereby we stumble and fall can become ways in which our Father gently guides us deeper into His will for us.

I’m slowly learning the benefits of resting in Jesus our Saviour and eternal Vine, allowing His energy to fuel my days and His strength to sustain me in everything. Though it comes at the cost of laying down our self-sufficiency and pride, we never lose out in yielding to the Lord, albeit little by little.

just like a flower

just like a flower

we require ripening time

growing on the vine

©joylenton

resurrection: an unravelling and loosening to be set free

 

How easily we can fool ourselves into thinking we are free, while we live unaware of those invisible chains which still have a hold on us. We can be captured and captivated by the things of this world, enslaved by our own drives and desires, held captive by guilt, shame and pain. But we try to hide away from the anguish it brings.

Jesus offers us a remedy for a life of slavery to self and to sin, and hope for a need to be set free. His blood, His love, His goodness and grace all pave the way to an eternal destiny where freedom beckons with an invitation, whereby bending, bowing and brokenness are the means of entry.

Will we come? Will we heed the risen Saviour’s voice calling out across the sands of time? Will we seek to be loosed, like Lazarus, from physical and spiritual death?

Once a soul has been given to God, it will never be the same again. He will gradually, gently take and break, mould and make us anew, shaping us oh so tenderly into all we were always intended to be.

Being loosed

Lazarus became loosed from death

precursor to the cross to come

where death would lose

its final sting, and Christ

would rise soon from the tomb

 

A strange unravelling,unwinding of

bandaged limbs held fast in waxy cold

confines of morbidity, where life was lost

A warming, rushing pulse of life-breath

flooding through instead, as colour returns

and rigor mortis turns back to vigorous

 

And death’s steely-grip chains break at last

as our Saviour reveals The Way to be free

Now we have Hope and Life anew, as we

limp through our own resurrection days

blinking in unaccustomed Sun’s rays

 

We teeter on the edge, where death

lies as sinking abyss, yet across

its depths Christ’s firm footsteps tread

His arms spread wide to bring us Home

to eternal Life spent by his side

©joylenton2017

And once we have heeded the call to die to self so that we can rise to newness of life in Christ, we discover how, little by little, with Holy Spirit’s help, those things we were addicted to, or which held us fast, are slowly loosed.

An unravelling begins, as we become more alive on the inside, our hearts softened by God’s love, our souls more receptive and ready to be changed. Day by day, Christ’s resurrection glory and joy begin to overcome the darkness within. We are free… We can breathe… We can begin again…. Easter resurrection hope and  joy is ours for eternity.  Christ is risen indeed, hallelujah!!

Happy Easter, dear friend! May you rejoice in the glorious Hope we have in Christ.  🙂 ❤

on being a willing, welcoming host for Christ

bearing-christ-within-pj

 

Each year is pregnant with possibility, holds portent of promise, hope of potential and opportunity to begin again. It’s a wonderful reminder of the daily grace, mercy and forgiveness which God offers us as we place our faith and trust in Him.

My hope and prayer is to host Christ well and make Him manifest, to be a woman who radiates His living presence. As broken people we feel we do that so imperfectly, yet those very weak spots, cracks and crevices in our lives are where His light leaks out most to others, often invisibly to us.

Although we may have moved past Christmas and on into the welcome embrace a new year can bring us, we need never move away from a willingness to make space for God on a daily basis, or a desire to seek after Him and offer Him a warm welcome, a home in our hearts and lives.

May we host Him well. May we be people of the cross who live and love well. May we shine God’s light into every dark corner of this world, as we willingly share His love and grace. May we be Christ’s ambassadors and light bearers, as we pour ourselves out in the service of others. May we appreciate the enormous privilege of bearing Holy Spirit within.

Bearing Christ within

Mary became overshadowed by your

Spirit, a willing host for Holy Ghost

 

How willing am I to bear Christ within

to bring him forth at just the right time

 

to let his Light shine out strong

to reveal how he belongs to all

and I am but a carrier of grace

 

whose mission is to magnify

his Name in each and every place?

 

Lord, help me to host you well

to carry you with tender care

 

to hold onto bright Hope within

and marvel anew at the way you

bore our sin, to seek to be

 

a lowly servant on the earth

if I might only grant you birth

 

and let you loose to live in me

with life abundant, rich and free

©joylenton

bearing-christ-within-poem

 

Happy New Year to you, dear reader and friend! Let’s celebrate all God has done for us. May you be blessed beyond your expectations and imagination in the days and months ahead.

I appreciate you so much. Thank you for being here. I look forward to sharing more poetic reflections with you soon. You remain in my thoughts and prayers. God be with you.

happy-new-year-greeting-2017-pj