The New Year is upon us, and with it the usual stream of new year resolutions and goals for the year. I have gone through the ritual of Lara Casey’s purposeful goal setting once again, with 4 overarching goals and a few smaller blocks that build up to them, but something else that really inspired me to do it all over again despite the failure of my goals for 2019 was a book by Sally Clarkson titled Own Your Life.
Sally Clarkson is, you might have guessed (or known) the mother of podcaster extraordinaire Joy Clarkson, and if she managed to raise such a talented woman (and she’s done it with all her 4 children!) she is definitely someone remarkable and worth listening to. So, I took a mental health day while a cold was tearing me down, and put on the audiobook, journal in hand, ready to take a look at my life and how I had drifted away from the woman God made me to be. “Come Holy Spirit”, and I was ready to dive in, have a hard look at what’s wrong and pray over what is in my power to change, and pray for the surrender of what is not.
I loved another book of hers, The Lifegiving Home, and the idea of creating a lifegiving home stuck with me as I listened to this other one. I look at myself and I don’t see a person my child (if I ever have one) would be proud to call his mother. My home is not lifegiving, it’s lifedraining. And if I want to be the woman that I want to be for my child, I can’t wait for change when the child is here. This is more or less the thread of thoughts behind my need for change.
I’m writing this a while before it’ll be published for the last book review with Rory of According to Rory (for now), and I’m in bed with a return of sciatica pain possibly due to injuring myself while building the new bed a couple of weeks ago. I’m thankful for the lessons learnt with Pathways this past year, because now I feel more confident moving a bit more than I would have before, but also knowing when to stop because of a legitimate injury that needs time to heal and when it’ll be time for the pain to go away (and what to do about that).
Aside from this injury, though, my health is still mixed. The medications I’ve got from the Dr in Italy has helped with my migraines significantly, so I am better able to do things that I wasn’t able to do just a few months ago, but the season and a period of intense travelling has brought with it a lot of chest issues that haven’t quite been resolved. One of my priorities for the year is to change doctor at last, and get the correct medication. In the meantime, I keep hydrated and rest at last, building up for starting my Pietra Fitness membership after asking for an exercise mat for Christmas.
One of the biggest take-aways from the book was how to balance knowing God’s love is unconditional with changing course in life.
In every chapter she recounts her story with great vulnerability, even when she has encountered criticism before because her life looked different from that of other women (and it was seen as too privileged). It taught me how, no matter our circumstances, we can always find a way to put ourselves down, but also, if we are intentional about our lives, ways to pull ourselves up.
She didn’t beat herself down for failing when circumstances were much worse than what would normally trigger me to do so. She looked back on her life from the wisdom and insight of 60 years of age and seen how God has worked in it, even when it was tough and everyone was against what they were doing as a family.
With 30 years to go until then, and a few choices in my career which I thought at the time were aligned to God’s will but I have since begun to second-guess, it was really impactful to see that her ministry took a long time and a lot of prayer and surrendering to God before it took off.
I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for those who may be interested in picking it up (it’s written for women, but I think its advice is pretty much universal with a few exception that are only applicable to womanhood), but there is so much that I would say. Still, the most important aspect of this book, unlike self-help books (including Christian ones), is that it’s covered in prayer and centred on the idea that it’s not us but God who does it. The advice stands up to Biblical scrutiny (it’s one reason I like to read Protestant authors, although some of them twist Scriptures to sell platitudes). I am now listening to a few selected episodes of her 300 episodes strong podcast, one of which touches upon the themes of the book.
Owning our life can sound a bit like we are trying to get control from God, but that’s not what she’s teaching at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: intentionality is about seeking God’s heart for our life rather than just drifting through every day aimlessly, commanded by the events rather than…owning it. I feel than in the past few months, especially over the summer when every day was a new migraine, I have just been drifting without purpose. I don’t feel like my story adds anything to the story of God’s Kingdom which we are building, as I’m also pretty bad at rejoycing in suffering and offering it up. It’s more likely to bring me down instead.
So, as 2020 comes to a start, I have spent the past couple of week or more working on being more connected to God and better able to live by faith, surrendering all to Him so He can use me for His purpose. It will not surprise, after this, that my word for 2020 is Connected (whose synonym is the very biblical united). I’m so ready to own my life (again).