I had the privilege of attending a lockdown wedding - well I suppose in 2020 it’s actually just a wedding. Talk about something that I never thought I would do. We all got given a mask and branded hand sanitiser (which was so cute), a handwritten note and we got to share in one the greatest moments in this couple’s life. And it was strange and different and yet incredibly beautiful. The moment we began to sing (these two are incredible worshippers) - the atmosphere shifted and God’s presence flooded the room. As we were singing these lyrics I had to stop:
“Take me back to simple things
Behind closed doors just You and me
With nothing grand that I could bring
Your presence was enough for me” - Amanda Cook (yea she is my homegirl and I love the way she writes - the depth is incredible).
I realised that this is what I had been singing and declaring almost a year ago and now here we are. In 2020 - going back to simplicity - “with nothing grand that I could bring”.
And you know what, it made me realise that the although this year is different, we are learning a lockdown language. We are learning a new expression of worship. AND we are learning how to navigate the weirdness and wonderfulness that this season and period in time has to offer.
LEARNING - if I could summarise the last few months - I feel like I have had to go back to school - but it’s a new school. I had to and still have to re-enter a “classroom” daily and ensure that when I do, I am teachable and open to change.
The lessons of the last season have been significant.
Have you ever tried to teach someone unteachable? I have had the privilege of teaching college students - mainly between the ages of 18-25. A beautiful opportunity and one that I never want to take lightly. To be an educator is an incredible privilege. You get to be apart of someone’s journey. You get to learn not only their names but also their stories and you get to be apart of their future. I love it. I love how alive a classroom can become when students begin to engage. When there is a buzz as they do a class exercise or when they begin to argue their point of view and perspective.
However, I will say that along the way, I have taught some unteachable students. There are the ones that speak up announced, sometimes out of hand, and just plain cheeky. They feel like the classroom is not a place to learn but an authority to challenge. Man, those ones are tough. Sometimes it’s the ones who are trying to prove a point - that they know it all. Or that despite what they learn, there is a sense of entitlement. And these often indicate a silent cry to be heard.
And then you get the learners. The ones who love to learn. They are eager, they prepare and they engage. And man, do they fly. My heart could burst as I watch them step into their future. Fully engaged in the learning process and eager to develop. Out of this season I have learnt that some of my core values as an individual is to: nurture, empower and RELEASE! That is how I want to live. Open handed.
But all this learning made me think of something I have heard Andy Clark speak about - the love of learning. And she said that we should begin to worry when a child’s eyes lose the wonder of learning.
Now throughout lockdown - I have definitely been both students. I have loved to learn some things and wanted to cheekily exit the classroom with other things. However, despite that, God has been unbelievably patient and kind with me. And there is a tangible grace that covers this season. A season that is undoubtedly a LEARNING opportunity.
So here are 10 things that I have learned during lockdown after 110 days in the “classroom”:
Patience is necessary: if there is one thing I can say is that Lockdown cannot be sped up or changed based on what I want or feel. There is no fast forwarding this and there is no by passing the process. This is a journey and patience is required when the end is not even close to sight.
Say yes to things that make you uncomfortable: now not like things that make you a bad uncomfortable please don’t go there - I mean saying yes to things that push your reliance to God, not people. That make you so uncomfortable because you are no longer serving the comfort you so regularly desire. Little things like saying yes to a role you feel unqualified for, or writing, or journaling or just doing something you have never done before.
A sabbath is not an option, it’s a conviction: just try it - intentionally, faithfully and without the burden that it’s a 100% or nothing. God is not waiting for you to hit the nail on the head, he is waiting to teach you to enjoy his presence and rely on his power - not your own.
There is healing in God’s presence: Maybe like me, you have heard this before. But I experienced this. Call it experiential learning - but out of a sabbath and intentionally spending time BEING with God - I experienced His healing - without having to DO anything in particular. And I didn’t realise it was happening until I looked back and began to see his hand.
Don’t fight for what was but embrace what is: when you realise that you are in fact not in control of anything - you begin to embrace the journey from the passenger seat - and the views are beautiful - if you take the time to see what’s outside, to sing some of your favourite songs and to enjoy each others company along the way.
Community carries you: through the mountaintops and the valleys. Through the Coronacoaster. Through the silliness and lack of sleep and through the difficulties - true community cheers each other on, loves each other through the ups and downs and celebrates with each other.
Encouragement is key: If you open the bible you will find endless truth to encourage you to continue to put one foot in front of the other. But as you do that - God begins to speak and all of a sudden you have the tools to encourage others. I love this Proverb: "Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits." Proverbs 16:24 (TPT)
Just take one day at a time: there is no way to rush this process - except to take it one day at a time - I saw this quote by Robert Fergusson and it challenged me deeply: “anxiety is an attempt to live in tomorrow without the grace of today”. I grew exhausted living in tomorrow - being fearful and anxious and while I still have my days where I cry, feel overwhelmed and panic - God keeps reminding me that He is my shepherd - which means that He will guide, protect, provide and care for me. And I will declare that until I believe it.
Trusting God isn’t easy: but it is worth it. He comes through every single time - if we wait and rely on HIS timing!
Life is as beautiful as you perceive it to be: gratitude, celebrating and eternal perspective will shift how we see the world around us. The more grateful we are - the less gruntled we become and the more we begin to celebrate all that we have. Comparison will tell you what you don’t have - but perspective will hone on celebrating what you do.
God is faithful and He is kind - and amidst the chaos of the world - he is still peace in the storm. He has a purpose and plan for your life. And although it would be easier to try and pray away the difficulties - sometimes we need to walk through them - hands held high in surrender, eyes focused on Jesus with an attitude to learn. To not try be exempt from the class but learn to embrace the classroom for what it is - “a learning zone”. One day at a time and class at a time.
The best thing about this is that even if we fail, we get to get up again, to train, to persevere in a classroom covered with grace. I would love to know some of the things that you are learning too? Why not comment and let me know? The best way to learn is together!
Happy learning friends!