Are you ready for a s-t-r-e-t-c-h? Go on, you know it will do you good. A physical stretch eases our limbs and a mental one fires up the brain.
After all, isn't life all about change and challenges? Or are they just for the brave - or foolhardy - few? It takes an element of faith to rise to a challenge and to see it through.
We all exercise faith on a daily basis, to some degree or other, as we trust the world around us to operate as it should.
Chairs are meant to be sat in, right?
I am taking a leap of faith here in sharing my words ~ actually every time I press 'Publish' I require nerves of steel that someone will read, and hopefully enjoy, the message I am sharing.
One of the greatest challenges that faces us is also one of life's greatest pleasures: loving and being loved in return.
It opens us up to the possibility of heartache, despair, rejection and loss, as well as to a potential for joy and delight beyond measure.
Because loving and being loved is one of our primary reasons for existence. We were all created as unique individuals, crafted by God's loving hand, in order to know and be in relationship with Him. God is the Only Person Who loves us unconditionally and without measure.
As we draw near to the Christmas period we have great opportunity to reflect on just who Jesus is and why He came into the world.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life" ~ John 3:16 The Message
Yet we can struggle to accept not only that we are loved, but that we might even be lovable to someone else. Perhaps our upbringing and family life failed to affirm that necessary message to us or being hurt by other people may have made a serious dent in our ability to believe it.
Once our hearts have been crushed or broken they may feel beyond repair. How do we learn to love again when we feel unlovable?
Our poor self-image and imperfections can lead us to feel unworthy of receiving love or even incapable of giving it away freely to others.
What we are lacking ourselves (or feel as if we do) can become a stumbling-block in reaching out that may even be hidden from us until it really matters. Then we wonder what is stopping us from giving and receiving equally. Most of us long for an experience such as this:
"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away" ~ George EliotMy relationship with God is a safe harbour like this, as He takes the worst of what I am, deals with the bad and does everything to promote and encourage the good. There is such comfort and freedom in being able to pour out all that I am and all I am going through and know He cares, understands and has every ability to bring about the necessary changes.
His word also tells us -
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" ~ Psalm 34:18
God meets with us right where we are. We don't have to clean up our act before coming to Him. He longs to do the same for all of us - if we would only allow Him access.
Sometimes He has to do a healing work in us before we can believe we are lovable. Past emotional conflict and pain can stand in the way.
Are we ready to exercise our faith in The Only Person Who will always love and be there for us ?
Are we ready to take that leap?
How our hearts weigh heavy at times as we long to be able to be loved and to give love to others. Yet so many things can get in the way. We may not feel worthy or capable. We may lack the resources emotionally to be open and trusting.
It can feel scary to let another person see the 'Real Me' behind the masks we wear to try to fit in and seem like everyone else, even though we may feel isolated, lost and alone in our differences.
Yet, You made each one of us unique and special. We have gifts and abilities to share.There are no Outsiders in your kingdom of grace. Help us to see ourselves as we are In Christ and as You see us - Accepted, Beloved, Chosen.
Then do the necessary work within our hearts to enable us to be healed, at peace with You, with ourselves and with one another, set free to love and be loved as you planned for us to be.