Between the lines

For the past seven years, I have dedicated my life to writing poetry (and every other word that God gives me). Though I write mostly for myself, I have always had my focus on the reader. What would the reader need most? What would God want the reader to know? And even though this is not a bad concept, I have learned something more valuable over the years.

Over the years I have written over 250 English-languaged poems (and a handful of Dutch ones), give or take. Poems that contain a piece of God and a piece of myself. Whether God quoted it or I wrote it. It has always been a partnership where God receives all the credit. And for me, it works! For me it is the most functional way of working and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

During the years I have been through a lot. Not just the past seven years but ever since childhood. All of these struggles have found a way into my poetry. Don’t misinterpret these words though, because my poetry is not a summery of misery. With the struggles, God always handed me the solutions whether I was ready for it or not. I know the solution can sometimes overwhelm you and make you feel as if you will never be able to accomplish it. Therefore God often gives long-term solutions. Solution you can grow into as time passes by. Every day is a learning process. We are not expected to succeed in a day, week or year. God knows how long we need and that is the exact time he gives us.

Since my poetry has always treasured the solutions, they have always been my greatest comfort in times of need. Whenever I felt sad, lonely, frustrated or confused, the Holy Spirit would most often lead me to my own poetry. Between the lines I fely comfort, answers, peace and the love of my Heavenly Father. Reading these poems and feeling the great comfort they bring me, even though I wrote them myself, installed a greater understanding deep within my soul.

‘When the work you do for God heals you more than others, you’ve done something right!’

Isn’t it true that when God calls us to work in His Kingdom, we are so extremely focused on others. We need to save the world, heal mankind and bring them safe and sound into the arms of Jesus. But what if Jesus has a greater message for us than for others through the work we do? Aren’t we missing out on something?

I see so many of us make that mistake. We are so focussed on teaching that we forget to be taught. We are so focused on helping that we forget to be helped. We are so focussed on loving that we forvet to be loved. We so easily forget ourselves. How wonderful it is to know that even though we forget ourselves, God does not. He sees us and loves us. And through His everlasting love He wants to teach us every day, face to face, in the most personal way. And sometimes we don’t need to cross oceans to find it. The greatest lessons we learn are in our own handwriting. All we need is to be reminded of it.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love!

The thursday before easter we heard that my mother has cancer and that there was no cure for her. Hearing something as horrible as this made me feel as if the floor underneath my feet disappeared and I fell into this huge hole. Unfair is a word I have used often. I just didn’t understand why this had to happen (I still don’t). In my prayers I negotiated, asked questions, pleaded, tried to make deals, anything that would turn this situation around. The moment I realized that it didn’t work, I simply got angry.

I know that it is unfair to blame God that things like this happen. They happen to everybody so why not to someone in my family? (I got this response a lot!) Even though I know that it is true, it didn’t satisfy my soul. In my opinion God could heal my mom, He still can. What made me angry is that He just didn’t do it. My life never turned out the way it was planned and after everything that had already happened, God allowed this to happen also. After all the rejections, bullying, disappointments, loneliness and hurt, I am losing my mother to this horrible disease. It was the final straw. I never complained about my situation, always tried to do the best to my abilities and I always followed God in everything He asked of me. We didn’t deserve this!

At some point my anger intensified so much that I stopped talking to God all together. I did pray but I only spoke the absolute necessary words. “Lord bless this food and forgive my sins, amen”. Or I simply prayed the ‘Our Father’ prayer. But talking personally was out of the question. If God didn’t listen to a word I was saying anyway, if He didn’t answer my prayers, then why would I even bother?

I kept this up for a week. Then one morning, right before I wanted to say a short prayer for breakfast, I audibly heard God’s voice. He said, “Gineke, please talk to me”! He was listening after all. Just because He didn’t answer, didn’t mean that He didn’t listen. God heard every word. Initially I thought, fine, if you want me to talk, I can talk. My first prayers after that week of silence consisted of yelling. All my anger was thrown at God’s feet. My feelings of unjust, disappointment and down right rage where fired straight at God’s heart. But the funny thing is that the more I screamed at God, the calmer I became. Until the screaming became talking, and the words became tears. I admit to saying things to God that I now regret. As my anger slipped away, a feeling of remorse slowly trickled into my heart. God didn’t deserve my anger. He didn’t deserve the blame. Still He listened to every single word.

Last saturday, again before breakfast, I was sitting in the living room. Suddenly I felt the presence of God the Father, as clear as the light of day, in the room. The Father walked over to me, laid His hand on the crown of my head and kissed my head. I whispered, “I love you, I really do”. And the Father answered, “I know”. Where I doubted God’s love for me, He never doubted mine. Where I thought that God wasn’t even listening, God was doing much more. He didn’t just listen. He also looked straight into my heart. God observed every single part of me so intently because He knew exactly what I was going through.

All of this opened my eyes. Often Christians say that we have to praise God and we are not allowed to get angry at Him. We have to obey Him, honor Him and keep our mouth shut about pathetic little things. Only worship! But God wants much more than worship. He wants a personal relationship with us. This means that we have to open ourselves up completely before Him. We can praise and worship God all we like but if we still hold a grudge against Him, our praise is worthless! God rather wanted me to yell at Him than that I kept my feeling to myself. God wanted to hear how I felt because He understood, and still understands, my pain. God knows how difficult my life is. How much I long for my mother to be healed. How much I long for a future and a hope, for a life of joy and worship. He knows that I am still waiting for Him to make His promises to me come true. He knows the tears of my heart. But keeping silent is not making anything better. We have to learn to open ourselves up completely, dirt and all.

If you are angry at God, disappointed, hurt, sad and you haven’t said it to Him yet. If you feel that God is to Holy, to Almighty, to receive you anger and hurt, and therefore you remain silent. If you are hiding your real feeling towards God by a mask of praise then please hear me out. God wants to know how you really feel! God is strong enough to take your anger and your pain! God understands so much more than you think! And His love is so astoundingly big that nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, can make it go away! Not even your greatest anger. And after the anger, you find that the praise and worship is deeper than it ever was before. Open your heart up for God, yell, scream cry or laugh. Don´t hold anything back. God completely understands you! He loves you!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 38-39

Sea angels

It was in May 2016 when I stood at a beach in Normandy with my parents. The sky was grey and the wind was blowing. It was cold. Looking out across the Atlantic Ocean, something happened inside my soul. It felt as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. As if, for the first time in a long time, someone understood how I felt. I was not alone that day. Not only the Holy Spirit was with me, but I felt the presence of numerous angels around me. As if Heaven wanted to reassure me that I was not alone. There is someone who understands my heart and my emotions, even when I don’t understand it myself.

Although I am not fan of sunbathing at a crowded beach, or sunbathing in general, I do like to stroll across the beach. Especially on windy days when the beaches are mostly empty and you can only hear your own thoughts. I love seeing the outstretched beach and the endless ocean in front of me. No end and no beginning. It just is. Water is always moving. It never rests. Besides oceans I also love creeks and lakes. I remember as a child on summer holidays that we would spend our sundays at small creeks or lakes in Switzerland, France and Austria. The peace that these days brought to me, I will never forget. They now remain a very happy memory that I can visit whenever I want.

Water is happiness and peace but also turmoil. In the endless oceans often appear vortexes. today’s oceans are covered in plastic. So even though the ocean is a happy place full of wonder, imagine sea life, it is also a broken place. Maybe that is what connected me with the ocean that day in May. Maybe that is what the Holy Spirit tried to point out to me. Just like the sea being restless, so am I. An ongoing energy that can experience happiness and turmoil, I am broken. Restless. Not unhappy but a constant flow between the two.

That day my heart found a peaceful place where the Holy Spirit connected with me. The words He gave me still hold a special place in my heart. Every time I read it, I still feel that this is exactly how I feel. Restless. But the comfort that there is Someone who knows how I feel and understands it, it such a comfort! God knows how I feel. He understands it. When Jesus was on earth, He experienced the same feelings and emotions as every human being experiences them. So we can be assured that Jesus knows exactly how we feel. And sometimes we just have to be made aware of that. It is a good thing that we have the Holy Spirit to point it out to us once in a while. to point out that we are not alone and that our feelings and emotions in that particular moment are completely understood. life is broken, happy and in turmoil at the exact same time. But God knows how we feel. And that is an enormously gracious gift which God the Father gave us. Something to be thankful for.

These are the words that came to me that day:
Sea Angels

The Weaver and the tapestry

Our place in this world is unique. Each and every single one us has his own place in this world. There is not a person to many or too little. Everyone is exactly where he/she is supposed to be. It is like a tapestry. Each wire has its own place and function but the tapestry could not exist without each and every single threat.

When one comes face to face with an approaching death within the family, life somehow becomes much clearer. As my mom is battling cancer (a battle she is going to lose according to the doctors), I start to reflect on my life more than usual. Questions like; what is important to me and what do I really need, are going around in my mind. Looking back on life I can clearly see God’s hand in everything. Every moment in my life was carefully coordinated by His mighty hand. Before I was born, my life was painted into great detail. Not a single color or brushstroke was left out. Every word was written down. When life happens, it is very difficult to see that you are a part of a great tapestry. Your life really matters! It is the moment when life comes to a halt that you start to see the full picture (or after something bad happened).

We have these moments in life when we look back over our shoulder and suddenly see the full picture. As if we have always been looking at the bottom of this tapestry. All we could see was the knots and chaos in the threads. Nothing seemed to make sense. But suddenly you get a small glimpse at what the other side looks like. You can see the Weaver create every detail in this enormous tapestry. Every color and every thread is handpicked.

To me it is very comforting to know that Someone is in control. God is the Great Weaver who has put all His blood, sweat and tears into this masterpiece. Sometimes the knots hurt. Sometimes we believe that the threads are supposed to be at a different place or preferably not there at all. Sometimes we believe that we could do a better job, if we had a say in it. But looking at the tapestry of my own life, I personally disagree. I could not have done a better job at my tapestry than God. Even though I have been hurt, I can clearly see how much God loves me. God the Father has never allowed a single knot or thread at the wrong place or the wrong time. I can clearly see moments where evil tried to destroy or put the wrong thread in the tapestry and God stopped it.

Looking at the tapestry of life, all I can say is, God the Father did an amazing job. I can feel His love in every thread of my life, in every fiber of my being. Life isn’t easy and sometimes it seems unfair, but I believe that God sees the bigger picture. A picture I can not yet see. Sometimes I get a glimpse but I can never see the full tapestry. Still I only trust God with my life. I only trust God with my tapestry because I know that He does see the full picture. He knows where I came from and where I will go. He has created me and wove me into a unique masterpiece. Whenever life gets difficult and all I can see is chaos, God shows me His love in numerous ways. I can always talk to Him and He always listens to me. His hand holds mine and He never let’s go. His hands hold me up when I cannot stand anymore and His wisdom guides me along the way.

Even though I cannot see the full tapestry, I can see the Weaver.
Even though I do not understand all the knots and threads,
I do know that the end result will be breathtaking!

In times of grieve

Exactly a week ago my grandmother (the last one I had on earth) passed away. Last thursday was her funeral. She reached the blessed age of 92. I loved my grandmother and I am so blessed to have some good memories of her. I know she is in a better place now. A place that she longed to go to. A place where my grandfather and my uncle were waiting for her.

In times of grieve we can be more sensitive towards words than at other times. So am I!  When Billy Graham passed away (also this week), people all over the internet were praising him for everything he has done. And he did do great things! But what stung me, was when I read in some responses that Heaven was throwing a big party right now and that Heaven was blessed to have him. No offense towards anyone but why do we think that Heaven will be happier with someone who had the opportunity to do more for Jesus? I am only being honest. It bothers me. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work in such a big way for Jesus. God has a personal plan with everyone. But when I lost my grandmother and I read these praises, I found it hard to take in. Was Billy Graham better than my grandmother? Was Heaven throwing a party when Mister Graham entered but with my grandmother, no one cared that much? I was struggling with this last week!

Believe me, this is not about Mister Graham or my grandmother. It happens with many famous or well-known people. When someone who was well-known passes away, Heaven is so blessed to have him/her. But we don’t say these things about a homeless person on the street or our nextdoor neighbor! And I get this deep sense of standing up for these people. Jesus always said, “The first will be the last and the last will be the first in the Kingdom of God”. And with this in mind I get the deep feeling to defend the unknown. Maybe it is my grieve speaking right now. But in the eyes of God everyone is exactly the same.

As I was struggling with these thoughts, a certain bible verse came to my mind that gave me a sense of peace. It is Matthew 11:11 which says, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Jesus said these words shortly before John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod. Jesus loved John. They were even related in a sense. Jesus’s Mother Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were cousins. But Jesus has in mind that in Heaven, everything is different than here on earth. God the Father does not treat one better than the other. For the Father, everybody is equal. Here on earth we establish a certain hierarchy. The one who does the most for God is somehow also the best. But to me it was such a great comfort to know that God does not look at people this way? My grandmother was not an evangelist. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was loved by many but did not have many conversations about Jesus. She was a believer, a sinner saved by grace, but not a well-known evangelist. And still God is as happy to have her in Heaven as He is with someone like Billy Graham (or Henri Nouwen, Thomas A. Kempis or anybody else). This thought gave me peace and understanding. Maybe I have always known this but I was grateful that God pointed it out to me anyway.

Like I said, we get very sensitive in times of grieve. Things that normally don’t get to us, do now! Normally I would have ignored the whole thing but now I couldn’t. And in this struggle, God was right there with me. He was comforting me and helping me to see things in a different way. Grieve can throw a blanket over our eyes and make our sight foggy. It can prevent us from thinking with a clear mind. In these moments of grieve, we may know that Jesus wants to comfort us and help us. We do not face this alone. We are never alone. Jesus love will always be with us. Even when nobody sees us.

 

Between my fingertips

The poem I would like to share with you today is one very close to my heart. This poem is about the night I met Jesus in a dream. You know, I often work with God the Father, so those rare moments when Jesus communicates with me, are very special to me. I don’t know why I communicate more with the Father and the Holy Spirit but I am confident in the bond Jesus and I have, so I don’t really mind. But it fills my heart with pure joy when Jesus comes to me to have a chat or to show me something!

This night was one of those rare night I saw Him. In my dream I saw Jesus standing at a distance from me. It was just the two of us, there was nobody else there. So I thought by myself, why are you always at such a distance? (Yes there was a short period of time where it actually bugged me, but this dream changed all that!) Suddenly Jesus was gone and I panicked just a little. I panicked because it wasn’t my intention to push Him away, all I wanted was for Him to come closer! Then I felt a presence behind me and there He was. He came from behind me and walked to my side. Now He was actually standing right next to me. Our eyes locked. He stroke my head with His hand and the love I felt in that moment overwhelmed me. His love also ensured me that even though He is not always this close to my side, His love never changes! He will always love me and I will always have a place in His heart. It really felt as if He takes a polite distance to give the Father space to work with me. Nothing more, nothing less. And I really needed to know that. I needed to know that even though I do not always feel His presence, He still loves me anyway.

As I was looking into His eyes and He into mine, I desperately wanted to say something. But I could not find the words and neither did He. What happened next still kind of surprises me sometimes. For some weird reason I looked at His robe and thought, that must be so uncomfortable. For His robe looked like itchy wool. Then I reached out my hand and touched His robe. I took His robe between my fingertips and rubbed it very gently. I can tell you that I was very surprised by the softness of it. It felt very comfortable actually.

When I looked up again, into His eyes, I read a touch of worry in His eyes. He was worried about me and His worry reminded me of the worry my brothers sometimes have when they look at me. Looking back I understand His worry but at that particular moment it confused me. When I was fourteen years old and God the Father spoke to me in a dream, the Father told me that my coming future would be a difficult one. I believe that Jesus was very well aware, that I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I think it worried Him that I still had battles to fight. Why? Because He loves and cares about me. I matter to Him. And it is exactly that love of Jesus that fills me with joy, love and peace.

When I woke up, I wrote a poem about this dream. The reason I want to share the poem and the dream with you is, because Jesus loves you too! So much more than you are aware of. I see it as my duty to direct people towards the love of Jesus. To make them aware of the overwhelming love Jesus has in His heart for mankind. Words cannot explain His love for you and still I try to bring it to people through my poetry. Always remember that Jesus loves you. Open your heart and let Him in because He is more than worth it. I hope you like the poem. I hope it fills your heart with love, joy and peace in Jesus name.

Between my fingertips

I still feel the soft fabric,
gently between my fingertips.
Your eyes are imprinted in my soul,
how can I ever forget Your gentleness?
Not a word has to be spoken,
our minds are one.
And as the Spirit draws us closer together,
our bond is still the same,
Between You and me,
nothing has changed.

Your brother love exceeds,
it is a heart without boundaries.
Never will Your anger rain down on me,
or felt in any chamber of Your heart.
Your teachings are my guidelines,
wisdom is planted in my mind,
where it grows out of love for You.
I walk the roads of this world alone,
but in heaven I look out for You.
More are You to me than a Savior,
more than all the Kings of the earth,
more than all my brothers combined.

I still feel the soft fabric,
gently between my fingertips.
Your brotherly worries unspoken,
Your love speaks louder than any word could.
Not a soul knows our connection,
or the bloodline that keeps us attached.
The memories hold my heart,
when the distance becomes an obstacle.
All I need to know,
when my soul returns home,
that the fabric of Your robe,
is still between my fingertips.

 

A letter from God the Father

Yesterday and today God the Father has given me a letter in poetry. Normally I don’t post these kind of poems/pieces because it is very personal. Today however I made the decision to share a recent one with you. I made this decision because I am fully aware that, what God the Father shared with me, can help many others as well. There are many people with hurt, grieve, questions and pain searching for comfort and love. And God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, can give you just that. I am merely the vessel, a messenger that wants to share God’s love with the world, the only way I know how…writing. In particular poetry.
I hope these words will help you, comfort you and surround you with God’s everlasting love. I pray they will strengthen you and bring peace.

A letter from your Father

Your heart is broken.
Like a porcelain cup,
your soul lays shattered,
on the marble floor,
of a palace that was once,
your home.

Like a child in the arms of his mother,
I want to take you in Mine,
rocking you to sleep in My love,
for your tears are hurting Me!

Have I gone too far, I wonder?
Has your image blurred in My sight?

Your thoughts are unanswered questions –
pieces of an incomplete puzzle.
Longing for the full picture,
you fire arrows at Me,
to confiscate the truth.

Unhurt is the heart of an unaware soul,
but safety will not protect you from sorrows.
In the stillness of My heart I cry for you,
counting the days until I can bring you back home.

In this maze we are running towards each other,
and with open arms I will catch you in your flight.

Do not try to find the answers My child,
but let the answers find its way to you.
Do not be sad My child,
for how can I forget My own heart?
The pain inflicted on you,
could never rob you out of My arms!

I hold you tight in the storm,
and tell you for once and for all,
that I will never let you go!

The world may be a stranger to you,
unaware of the beauty of your soul.
Darling, they don’t know you like I do!

Remember that love cannot be forced,
it can only be found in unexpected places.
Embrace the places of love,
and let go of the indifference towards you.

Open the door of your heart,
so love and light can find its way in.
Grieve is a temporary companion,
that you have hold on to for too long.
Allow Me to take its place instead.
Let Me take the pain,
to exchange it for My love.

The world cannot change who you are,
so do not fear their judgement.
Find peace in who I made you to be –
in the love I carry in My heart.

Spread your wings and fly, My child,
and find shelter in the shadows of My own wings.

My love for you is unexplainable in words,
uncountable like the stars in the universe.
Live out of My love,
let it be the food you eat,
and the air you breath,
for it is there where you will find your peace.

My child, I could go on an infinity longer,
but let this be enough.
Let this letter be the fuel to your heart,
where you will never give up.
Keep on writing for Me, My dearest child,
for the world has you for a reason.
Never lose sight of your purpose,
and live your life with love.

Always and forever,
I AM,
your Father.

Let me be

Let me be

Give me peace, Lord,
give me peace!
Let me be,
let me stay.
Love and embrace,
the creation of Your hand!

Let me be,
simply me,
both for You,
and for me.
Let me be,
Let me be Yours!

Let me be,
happy in me,
poor and free,
let me be,
me in You,
and You in me,
Let me be,
Always Yours!

Give me love, Lord,
give me love,
both for You,
and those around me,
Let me love,
Just like You,
Let me be,
Simply me,
Let me be love!

 

I wrote this poem a couple of years back and it still touches me, every time I read it. It feels like a caterpillar in a cocoon impatiently waiting to come out of his shell. I wrote it straight from the heart. And I think that every single one of us, one way or another, holds back. There are only a handful of people truly able to be who they really are for 100%. So I think it is a great message for all of us. It is time to crawl out of our own handmade cocoon and be the butterfly that God created us to be. Even when this is easier said than done. How difficult the road may be, or might have been, I believe there is always a way back to our true self. We don’t ever lose ourselves! Sometimes we just decided to step away for a while only to realize that who we really are was the best option after all. When you are at that place in your life where you feel like going back to your roots, let me encourage you! Don’t hesitate and don’t let fear stop you. And if necessary, allow someone to help you (a family member, a friend, someone from church, a team mate from your sport club or a therapist). Together you are always stronger than alone. And other people might have a view that you haven’t seen yet.

Let Love be your guidance!

Something to remember with Christmas!

It is December and Christmas is right around the corner. Christmas is my favorite time of year. All the lights are just mesmerizing, great food and there is a scent of joy that fills the entire world. Christmas is pure joy to me. It is the only time of year when I don’t mind to spend a whole three days in the kitchen. Then there are christmas songs. I love christmas songs since they are always so cheerful. I play flute, as a hobby, and I can’t wait until November arrives and it is allowed to play christmas music again. This time of year makes me happy and I just want to enjoy it.

The joy of Christmas is undeniable. Not just to me but to many in the whole world. And yet there are two things important to remember.

The first thing to remember is loneliness. Loneliness? Yes, loneliness! There are so many people in the world that are alone with Christmas. Whatever reason there is, some people spend Christmas all by themselves. And that just makes me sad. Christmas is about togetherness. Of course, we want to spend Christmas with our family and loved ones, but what about those who have no loved ones? Or elderly people? We live in a fast-paced world, where we are so focused on ourselves that we can sometimes forget others. Maybe you know someone in your own surroundings, who is alone with Christmas. Is it an idea to invite them and give them a Christmas they will always remember?

There is also another loneliness. Christmas is usually spend with children. The joy of children when they get to open their gifts on christmas morning and stay up late to watch christmas movies and eating together with the family. Christmas is a magical time of year for children and it is a true joy for parents to watch that. But for people without children, who really want kids but never got them, it is a very painful time of year. Like I told you before, I have no children or a boyfriend/husband. Jesus does not want that in my life. And even though I am okay with that, it is also very difficult sometimes. You know, I don’t know if I would make such a good girlfriend/wife, but I would have been such a great mom. And I do miss it at times. With Christmas and New Year’s Eve I watch my three brothers and their families and I get choked up. If only life would have been a little different. As much as I love Christmas, not having children or someone to spend my life with is not always easy. But there are so many people like me. Moms who never became a mom. Dads who never became a dad. Wives who never became a wife. Husbands who never became a husband. It doesn’t matter how much family and how many friends you have, it is an absence that no one can fill. An absence that fills you with a loneliness at certain occasions like Christmas.Please do not forget the lonely hearted this holiday season!

The second thing that I think is important to remember this holiday season, is Jesus Christ. Presents, great food, Christmas trees and decorations, yes it is all a part of christmas but it is not the most important part of it. Christmas is about togetherness and giving and joy. But most of all it is about Jesus. Jesus who came to this world for us. A little baby in a manger, with shepherds in a field, angels singing about the coming of the Messiah and three wise men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is about God the Father who loved the world so much that He gave is only Son, so we may have eternal life (John 3:16 in the bible). Let’s not forget that during Christmas.

And for the record, a Christmas tree, presents, great food and such things aren’t bad. Enjoy these things! I do to. Like I said, I love the lights, music and food. (We don’t do presents but I would have loved that too if we did!) All I am trying to say is not to forget what Christmas in the end is all about. Jesus is what makes Christmas…Christ-mas

A few years ago I wrote the next poem for Christmas. I hope you enjoy it!

The reality of Christmas

In advent weeks,
we buy a tree,
cover it with lights,
the decorations,
and candle light,
are a joyous fascination.
Many gifts,
in every size,
pile up underneath the tree,
with pretty bows,
and candy sticks,
it is our expectation.

Christmas is,
a feast of light,
but somehow more important,
is a table,
packed with food,
than a savior in a stable.
How can it be,
that our greatest gift,
is something bought in stores,
and not a Son,
who gave His life,
to open Heaven’s doors.

During Christmas,
every year,
my goal is to remember,
that Christmas is,
togetherness,
not just in December,
Love and peace,
for near and far,
given us,
that Christmas day.
A feast of light,
through Jesus Christ,
a baby born in hay.

 

How I deal with anxiety and stress.

This time of year is a busy one. We hardly have any time to relax because we are simply too occupied with too many things. Work, Christmas preparations, children (if you have them) and more. There is no time to breath. I don’t know about you but this is my reality. For the record, I do not have children but I do feel very busy. So busy in fact that I feel something, or rather someone, inside of me plea for a break. A moment to relax. Some peaceful time. And I would truly love to give myself a minute but too many things are asking for my attention. But do they really? Or is it my own desire to show the world a perfect picture of myself?

This is the question that has been going through my mind in the last couple of weeks. The reason why I started pondering about this subject is because a month ago I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to cancel something from church. I felt miserable, especially since I do go very often. I hardly ever skip. It bothered me so much that I felt anxiety attacks coming up. Something inside of me was whispering that I had to go. What if I miss something important? What if they will stop liking me because I didn’t go? Seriously the craziest ideas came to mind. Ideas that forced me to stop myself and think very carefully!

In my early twenties I was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder. Even though I haven’t noticed it for at least five years, I gradually recognised that it is back. A year ago I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled out and it was such a traumatizing experience that my anxiety disorder came back in full force. My mistake was that I ignored it for too long. I know the signs and symptoms but I stuck my head in the sand. Until I was in it so deep that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. A stupid act on my part, especially since I have the skills to deal with it. (skills I learned in therapy) If I would have applied these skills early on, it would not have gone this far.

The skills I learned are easy. Whenever I become afraid I ask myself questions. Why am I afraid? What happens when my fair becomes a reality? And what is so bad about that? After asking myself these questions, I search for ways to turn my thinking around. By slowly changing the thoughts in my mind, I change my perception also. For example; I am afraid to cancel a get-together from church because I am afraid that people will stop liking me. The first question I ask myself is, what will happen if people indeed stop liking me? Well I would feel pretty bad about myself. I would also feel very alone.
Okay, next question. What happens if you feel bad about yourself? What happens if you feel alone? Nothing. Nothing would happen.
Another question. Is it rational to be feeling these feelings? No because in reality I am not alone. If some people won’t like me, I still have plenty of other people left who will. People like my mom and dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, grandmother, my good friend. On top of that I will always have God. God will never stop liking me. So my feelings aren’t rational.
By repeating these questions, I can slowly change my perception. In the end, the fear will become smaller and smaller, and often even disappear.

What also helps me is to reduce stress by planning moments of rest. It can be tricky at times but it is so valuable. Our bodies and minds need rest from time to time in order to recharge. Without rest, we would be developing a burn-out in seconds rather than minutes. I am learning therefore that it is good to say, “No” at times. In this case, I said no to church, to give my mind a moment of rest. You know what the point is? Our bodies may be able to handle a lot of stress but that doesn’t mean that our minds are the same! Sometimes we can physically deal with a lot of work, while we mentally feel tired and weak. We have to try and find a balance in our life, where we can be meaningful and stress-free at the same time. A balance between duties (work, activities, family etc.) and rest.

I started my blog with a question. Am I really so busy or is it my own desire to show a perfect picture? I say yes. I am trying to show a perfect picture. I am trying to prove myself to everyone. I am trying to prove that I am worth it. But is this a rational thought? No because I am worthful for God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not need to prove myself in order to be loved. God the Father said it Himself two months ago, “I love you regardless of what you do”. I do not have to earn His love. I receive it for free.
And you know what! My parents also love me. And so do my brothers, even if they forget to show me sometimes. I have God (three-in-one) and a loving family. What more do I need? The only person I need to convince that I am worthy is myself. It doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What is most important, is what I think about myself! If I keep on finding my own inner happiness, I will be just fine.

“I see the sunflower in you. And all I ask, is for you to see it to”. (From the poem ‘The Sunflower, spoken to me by God the Father)