Tag Archives: living the life

Superhero Socks

I don’t know about you – but this time of year really brings out my inner superhero.  It’s probably exactly the right time for this post, on the destructive power of impossibly-high-expectations, to have another airing! Enjoy x

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This is my sweet five-year-old, dressing up in her fifteen-year-old brother’s superhero socks. He has a wide collection, and likes to wear them mismatched as a tiny but significant (?) piece of rebellion against the oppression of school uniform…

I’ve decided that having an impossibly high expectation of myself  in any situation is like being quietly stalked by a Superhero.  This SuperSomeone tiptoes along behind me, like a malignant imaginary friend, waiting for  the moment to point out my inadequacies, show me how I could do things better, or encourage me to aim ridiculously high.  Next to her, I always feel pretty rubbish really.

Now, while it’s perfectly OK to enjoy a good superhero story, and even (in some circumstances) to wear the socks; I’m sure you’ll agree that to believe that you can be a superhero is a dangerous, possibly even life-threatening delusion.

But, we all seem to do it. We all seem to invent a ridiculous, superhuman version of the role we’re in, and then expect ourselves to be it : SuperSomeones.

My loudest and most powerful Supersomeone is ‘SuperMummy’. She stands in the background of my life, ever ready to rear her (very beautiful and perfectly made up) head at any opportunity. For some reason she is most likely to manifest the night before the children’s birthdays, or Christmas, when she ‘forces’ me to organise beautifully themed birthday parties, ice cakes until 3 in the morning and try to make everything  ‘just perfect’.

If I ever take my eyes off Jesus and let them settle on SuperMummy, I’m done… I come to a few days later, confused and exhausted, wondering (again) why on earth I thought I needed to do all that stuff.

You see SuperMummy always wears make-up, is slim, has beautiful hair, can wear scarves stylishly, bakes perfectly, has a beautiful home (she found that piece of furniture in a second-hand store and distressed it herself) and a high-powered career, is amazingly spiritual, never shouts, and can preach in high heels without falling over. SuperMummy reads bedtime stories to all of her children every day, never forgets the PE kit, or shows up with kids in uniform on Mufti day, can instantly find a protractor the night before Maths exams, runs the PTA and never misses a dentist appointment…  Gosh, she can probably service the people carrier as well.

SuperMummy does NOT exist… But do you know what? if I let myself be conned into trying to be her, I may not exist for very much longer either.  Trying to be a superhero is exhausting and dangerous… and not what Jesus has asked us to do.

Whoever you are, and whatever stage of life you are at, I bet you
have a SuperSomeone.. A SuperPastor, SuperDad, SuperFriend,
SuperDaughter, SuperWorshipLeader, SuperChristian.  Walking
quietly beside you, whispering over your shoulder, “You need to be more like me”  Do you know what? –  You need to get rid of them, right now, whatever it takes.

SuperWhatever will distract you from what God is calling you to be and to do, he or she will suck all the life out of you, exhaust you, whisper ‘try harder’ over your shoulder until you can’t manage another step and then show you all the ways you’ve failed.

Whatever you think about what he has written or said since, a few years ago Rob Bell, in a very popular book called Velvet Elvis had a moment of pure genius. Writing on this subject he said:

‘KILL YOUR SUPERWHATEVER… ACT NOW… SHOOT FIRST!’

At the moment we fell into his arms and surrendered to him, God our father gave us a gift to help us defeat the Supersomeones. An enormous endlessly supplied water cannon, filled with… grace.

There is grace enough to cover ever one of your imperfections… and mine. There is grace to not to have to be perfect, to be a superhero. In fact, Grace says “you aren’t a superhero, I didn’t make you that way”.

Of course, our kids, work colleagues, churches, friends, families, need us to try to be ‘good-enough’, but there’s a loooooong way between that and a superhero.

So there’s my challenge for you for the week: ask God to shine his light on your inner Superwhatever; ask him to show you where you have ridiculously high standards of yourself and then apply a ridiculously generous amount of grace…. Shoot first.

superherosocks feat

 

 

 

 

Guitar Strings

I played the guitar and sang for 40 adoring fans this morning. I hope you’re impressed.  It’s a regular gig, and the crowd all think I’m brilliant (they’re also all under six).

I’d just got going when I realised that the guitar I’d grabbed out of my son’s room at the last minute was slightly out of tune. *wince*

Fortunately preschoolers are not usually very musically discerning and this bunch were quite happy to sing ‘wheels on the bus’ even with my somewhat discordant accompaniment, but it was a pretty painful experience!

It may be that the lesson I need to learn from this is to be more prepared (or not to say yes in the first place), but as I did my best to fix the problem, God reminded me of something a friend said to me just yesterday about guitar strings:

Only one string has to be out- either a bit sharp or a bit flat, for the whole instrument to sound wrong.

The quickest solution to an out-of-tune guitar is to tune it ‘to itself’.  You pick a string you think is about right and then adjust all the others to be in harmony with it.. It works really well if the first string you pick is actually in tune, but even if it isn’t the guitar is playable and probably won’t make you wince when you strum it!

My conscience works a bit like this… If one part of my life is out of line with the others, there is a discord, a lack of comfortable harmony, and my conscience nags at me to pull that part back in line, in tune with all the others.

Perhaps this is what people mean when they talk about ‘being true to myself’. It’s about having the way you think and behave lined up and in harmony with the things you believe and value.  Like me trying to line up my urge to yell at the kids’ drama teacher with my belief that all people are valuable and deserve kindness; or making my desire to get myself out of trouble by telling a lie subject to my value of honesty and integrity. It’s good to be in tune.

A guitar that is in tune with itself usually sounds pretty good – unless you try to play with someone else.

Which is why groups of musicians working together tune to ‘concert pitch’, so that each instrument is not only in tune with itself, but also with something outside of themselves like a tuning fork or electronic tuner. This makes it possible for them to work together in unity and in harmony.

The process of discipleship seems to me to be a lot like tuning a guitar.  One day God might be drawing your attention to one ‘string’ and sometimes to another, sometimes to beliefs and sometimes to behaviours, but always with the aim of making changes that help you to become everything that you were designed to be.

Today’s postcard is a challenge to surrender to God and ask him what needs tuning in your life.

Because although it’s good to be in tune with yourself, it’s good to have the way you think and behave ‘tuned to’ the things you value and believe,  sometimes it’s those things need adjusting so that your whole life can be tuned to something better.

Take some time to stop and listen and see what he has to say to you today…

‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’

because the music is going to be beautiful.

Superhero Socks

This is my sweet five-year-old, dressing up in her fifteen-year-old brother’s superhero socks. He has a wide collection, and likes to wear them mismatched as a tiny but significant (?) piece of rebellion against the oppression of school uniform…

I’ve been thinking about superhero socks a lot this week.  In my last postcard I mentioned IHE’s -Impossibly High Expectations – and the potential they have to limit us from being all God created us to be.  And I’ve been thinking about my own, and how to describe them to you, so that you can spot yours!

On reflection: having an impossibly high expectation of myself is like being quietly stalked by a Superhero.  This SuperSomeone tiptoes along behind me, like a malignant imaginary friend, waiting for  the moment to point out my inadequacies, show me how I could do things better, or encourage me to aim ridiculously high.  Next to her, I always feel pretty rubbish really.
Now, while it’s perfectly OK to enjoy a good superhero story, and even (in some circumstances) to wear the socks; I’m sure you’ll agree that to believe that you can be a superhero is a dangerous, possibly even life-threatening delusion.

But, we all seem to do it. We all seem to invent a ridiculous, superhuman version of the role we’re in, and then expect ourselves to be it : SuperSomeones.

My loudest and most powerful Supersomeone is ‘SuperMummy’. She stands in the background of my life, ever ready to rear her (very beautiful and perfectly made up) head at any opportunity. For some reason she is most likely to manifest the night before the children’s birthdays, or Christmas, when she’forces’ me to organise beautifully themed birthday parties, icecakes until 3 in the morning and try to make everything  ‘just perfect’.

If I ever take my eyes off Jesus and let them settle on SuperMummy, I’m done… I come to a few days later, confused and exhausted, wondering (again) why on earth I thought I needed to do all that stuff.

You see SuperMummy always wears make-up, is slim, has beautiful hair, can wear scarves stylishly, bakes perfectly, has a beautiful home (she found that piece of furniture in a second-hand store and distressed it herself) and a high-powered career, is amazingly spiritual, never shouts, and can preach in high heels without falling over. SuperMummy reads bedtime stories to all of her children every day, never forgets the PE kit, or shows up with kids in uniform on Mufti day, can instantly find a protractor the night before Maths exams, runs the PTA and never misses a dentist appointment…  Gosh, she can probably service the people carrier (minivan) as well.

SuperMummy does NOT exist… But do you know what? if I let myself be conned into trying to be her, I may not exist for very much longer either.  Trying to be a superhero is exhausting and dangerous… and not what Jesus has asked us to do.

Whoever you are, and whatever stage of life you are at, I bet you
have a SuperSomeone.. A SuperPastor, SuperDad, SuperFriend,
SuperDaughter, SuperWorshipLeader, SuperChristian.  Walking
quietly beside you, whispering over your shoulder, “You need to be more like me”  Do you know what? –  You need to get rid of them, right now, whatever it takes.

SuperWhatever will distract you from what God is calling you to be and to do, he or she will suck all the life out of you, exhaust you, whisper ‘try harder’ over your shoulder until you can’t manage another step and then show you all the ways you’ve failed.

Whatever you think about what he has written or said since, a few years ago Rob Bell, in a very popular book called Velvet Elvis had a moment of pure genius. Writing on this subject he said:

‘KILL YOUR SUPERWHATEVER… ACT NOW… SHOOT FIRST!’

At the moment we fell into his arms and surrendered to him, God our father gave us a gift to help us defeat the Supersomeones. An enormous endlessly supplied water cannon, filled with… grace.

There is grace enough to cover ever one of your imperfections… and mine. There is grace to not to have to be perfect, to be a superhero. In fact, Grace says “you aren’t a superhero, I didn’t make you that way”.

Of course, our kids, work colleagues, churches, friends, families, need us to try to be ‘good-enough’, but there’s a loooooong way between that and a superhero.

So there’s my challenge for you for the week: ask God to shine his light on your inner Superwhatever; ask him to show you where you have ridiculously high standards of yourself and then apply a ridiculously generous amount of grace…. Shoot first.

superherosocks feat

For your journal:

Is it time for you to give up wearing some superhero socks?  Have your worked out who your supersomeone might be?  Spend some time asking God about it this week.

Then set yourself some challenges… For me, shooting grace at the supermummy meant making some good-enough decisions, some of which I found very hard. ( Buying a pile of chocolate muffins instead of baking a birthday cake is one I especially remember:)

What challenge will you set yourself to be ‘good-enough’ this week?

 

P.S.  In case you don’t scroll down that far… Commenter Deborah wrote this, and I think it’s great:

‘What other approval is there, that compares to the voice of God whispering to my heart, “You’re mine”.’

 

 

 

Walking in the shade

It’s June and, after a few unseasonably cool weeks, summer has finally arrived in Nicosia.  (Weather.com tells me it’s 38 degrees C out there today- I am hiding inside!)

Once again, as the temperatures rise, I notice that we are beginning to live differently. We walk more slowly,  get up earlier, stay up later, nap in the afternoons.  School closes, we wear hats, close the shutters at 9am – ‘to keep the cool in’,  drink a lot of water and count down the days to when we can escape to chilly, wet England for the holidays.

Last week, as I walked lazily through the old city with visiting friends (in search of ice-cold frappé); one of those friends  pointed out another new habit I seem to have gained:  I cross the road a lot.   It took me while to work out what they meant, but it turns out that like many Nicosians at this time of year, I’m forever crossing over to the other side of the street as I subconsciously choose to walk or stand in patches of shade.

This week’s postcard is ‘walking in the shade’ because I’m aware that life can sometimes be ‘superheated’.

A hot season could be fired by pain, grief, fear, anxiety or uncertainty, or any number of other things, but a major culprit that turns the heat up under many of us are IHE’s: Impossibly High Expectations.

IHE’s -Supercareerguy/girl, superpastor, supermodel, superparent, superfriend, superspouse,  superchristian, superblogpostwriter  (pick your poison) fanned and fueled by family expectations, the media, church, facebook, pinterest, etc. put us (or make us put ourselves) under enormous pressure.  There is always another standard for us to measure our ‘success’ against, always another job that needs to be done yesterday.  That can make things pretty hot.

Whatever the cause; if you’re living in a hot place – you need to learn to walk in the shade.

The Bible tells me that the Lord my God is ‘the shade at [my] right hand’ (Psalm 121:5).  In a hot season you have to hunt out the shade.  If that means crossing the road every time you turn a corner or walking a longer way around then so be it …  If you’re in a hot place right now, it might be taking all you’ve got to keep going, and there may not be much time or energy to invest in your relationship with Jesus.    Please find some.    I’ve noticed that when the sun is at its highest and hottest if you want to get shade from something you have to walk very close to it.  And the closer you get, the deeper the shade.

So, if you’re in a hot season, walk close to Jesus.  Don’t let anger or disappointment, or tiredness or bewilderment make you decide to walk out in the heat of the sun.   Choose the shade.  And then keep on choosing it.

Of course, I know that not everyone who reads this will be living in a hot season… Some of you will be in a cold one.  Perhaps God feels a long way away right now; or maybe you feel as though your heart has somehow grown cold.  I was praying about this today and I felt God remind me that in the winter, everyone in my city chooses to walk in the sunshine…

That’s our beautiful God my friends: In the blast of the hot season he is the shade at your right hand, in the chill of the cold season he is the gentle sunlight that brings warmth to your soul.    Wherever you are living right now, draw near to him… he is what you need.

 

shadefeat

 

 

 

reflect greens

 

For your Journal:

Think about what this postcard says to you.  What kind of season are you in right now?  How would you describe it?  What reasons do you have for pressing in close to God, for listening for his voice, for walking the path he asks you to walk?

 

What do you think it means to walk close to God?  What does it take to get there?

I’m going to think some more about those IHE’s… expect more next week 🙂