The Ups and Downs

Isn’t it crazy how your mood can drastically change from week to week? And day to day? And second to second?

I like to be able to feel happy constantly and when I’m not I feel a bit like I’m failing. So when I’m not happy, I then get even unhappier, which then results in more unhappiness… a bit of a vicious circle isn’t it?

What is it about us that we like to appear like we’re loving life all the time to people around us? Or is that just me? What does it mean to just be able to be real with people?

I was having a meal with friends the other day, and the usual ‘what have you done today?’ question came up.

What had I done? Written some bible studies on Colossians, spoke to some supporters, had supervision and looked at Genesis and there I was currently at a meeting about starting youth work at church. It was only then when I recited my day that I realised how actually great it was. And why was I reciting it like it was something I’d been made to write about at school? One of those hated tasks of ‘write about your holiday’… and suddenly what seemed a great holiday at the time, was suddenly talked about as the worst thing on earth. And I thought why do I feel so rubbish? Just look at that day!

Settling into the steady flow of life definitely comes with its ups and downs.

I know people see me as a pretty happy person, and don’t worry, I’m not in a pit of despair! Just thinking about what it means to be real? And what it means to find joy in everyday tasks? And not take them for granted? And is it ok to be brought down by different things? And to have those rubbish days where you just want to curl up in a ball?

It gets me thinking… Was Jesus always happy?

He had eternal joy in the Father and the Spirit, joy was part of his being. But as far as I can see, that didn’t mean that everyday things didn’t effect him. He got angry in the market place, he got sad, I’m sure he got disappointed, he cried over Lazurus’ death, he felt despair and loneliness and everything that we feel today. He was clearly effected by life around him. He wouldn’t be human if that wasn’t the case.

But he had eternal joy.

‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.’ (Galatians 5:22)

And if we are in Christ, then the Spirit that is in Christ is also in us. Which means that joy is actually a part of our being. It is something that we have been given. It’s not something I have to continually work at bringing up. It actually is in me.

And from thinking about Jesus’ life and life effecting his emotions, I know that it’s ok to be up and down too. And I can go to God with that and he understands. He knows exactly what it is like. I don’t need to run away because I’m not feeling 100% happy, I can run to him and he will always joyfully be there pouring out his joyful Spirit on me.

And how much better is that, than the results of curling up in a ball and pretending that life isn’t there??

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What happened at Freshers?

Freshers.

New faces. Lost faces. Confused faces. Bold faces.

Introductions – to people, places, courses, more people, more places, more modules, more tutors, more, more… more.

Meeting those people you know are gonna be your friends. Meeting those you know, probably, won’t be…

Partying. Hiding. Discovering. Sleeping.

Awkward conversation. Great conversation. The same conversation. Over and over and OVER again.

Just a few recollections of freshers for me. And some of them were definitely still familiar this year! What is about freshers that makes some want to chat to everyone? And makes some just want to curl up in a ball?

Luckily this year I was quite happy to chat to everyone. (Well, most people!) And I thoroughly enjoyed talking with a big mix of people that I probably wouldn’t normally talk to. Being a part of all the CU freshers events made this inevitable and the conversations I had were all pretty exciting.

Take one…

Myself and one of the co-pres’ were delivering toasties to flats at our txt a toastie event one evening (where people txt a question about God/Christianity and we deliver a toastie with an [attempted] answer!). We had 4 events like this, even one with pancakes! And we would deliver A LOT of food, which obviously then results in A LOT of conversation. One flat was a most prominent highlight in my mind, we were invited in for a cup of tea and all 7 of them living there were sat around the table, all with their own questions! Can science and faith work together? What is the trinity about? Can you believe in God but not in the bible? What is a Christian’s view on contraception? Why do we have natural disasters? These were just a few of the questions, and how good it was to have people genuinelty interested and listening and talking about it as a flat! And being able to sit down to talk to them! We may not have answered every question but when we left they felt like some of their views had been challenged and they needed to re think.

Take two…

I talked to many at our question for a cookie events. We were using Solarium cards (check them out here if you’re not sure what they are http://mysoularium.com/ ) and asking people 3 questions.

1 Which photos best represented their life right now?
2 Which photos best represented how they would like their life to be?
3 Which photos best represented their view/perception of God?

Question for a Cookie

You can imagine that arty students are pretty drawn to a table of photos and cookies so we had many stop by. There was one guy I was able to talk to for about half an hour. It was pretty awesome when his questions that he first asked me were directly related to the study I had been doing just that week and even that day! He was currently reading the quran and was clearly searching and since he has just studied philosophy and ethics, he was a pretty deep thinker! Normally I would feel a bit out of my depth, as I’m certainly not a massive deep thinker, but we had a good two way conversation where I could ask him what he meant by certain things and not feel stupid in doing this! And we in turn chatted about pre destination, free will, the trinity, homosexuality, women in the bible… the lot really. And he downloaded the bible on his phone there and then!

Take three…

Tea and Toast. My favourite event! Crazy conversations happen at the best times i.e between 11 and 2 on a student union event night! One night I even went just went to watch a film with a group of international students who had come to us for film snacks! We even stood holding hands in a circle praying together while waiting for toast to be ready… as they said to me ‘we’re just praying to Jesus, do you want to come and join?’ They thought this would get them toast and hot drinks since they weren’t drunk!

Take four…

The freshers fayre. This is a time where the uni turns into a bit of what I would imagine a market place looked like in the bible. So much free stuff for students to get there hands on and where sports clubs and societies try to get people to sign up! We gave out 500 tins of beans with the details of the CU meetings and free meals on and how to get in contact. We also had 68 people sign up, which was certainly a good number! Great conversations also happened and we had one guy come up to us and say

I don’t want beans and I’m not a Christian, but I just want to say you guys are my favourite guys on campus, I love what you’re doing.

And this was after only a week of freshers events. So we must be having a positive impact!

Freshers Fayre Beans

So in the midst of cream teas, free meals, toasties, pancakes, cookies, bbqs, quizzes, films soo many people must have asked questions, been asked questions, been challenged, encouraged, unsure, hopeful, excited and most of all heard about the character of the amazing God that I know and that loves us.

I wonder what the rest of the year holds?

Relay highlights so far!

Being able to help with all events.
I have just had so many God ordained meetings and conversations. Be that with Christians or people who aren’t Christians, God has really put people in my path every single day. I haven’t even had to really think about people that I would like to meet up with, God has just been placing people in my life that just need someone to chat to or that want to learn more.

Seeing links between what I’m studying and questions I’m being asked.
I had a conversation with a guy at an event the other day and everything he asked me was linked to what I had been studying that week and even that day. And being asked by students what I’ve been up to and being able to share different things that I’ve been learning through their questions or other people’s questions at events and continuing to learnt from them too!

Being able to have time to really care for people.
Not having a degree on my shoulders make such a difference. Just knowing in my head that I could meet up with people to chat more over coffee has changed my way I go about conversations, approach others and relate to a lot of people around me. I feel I’ve got time to get to know students on a different level and God has increased my compassion to see people grow and have new friendships and just love people that I meet.

Having a friend as a boss.
It’s so great to have someone that I’m accountable to, especially since that person is someone I know will guide me along the right path and be honest with me (whether that honesty feels nice or not at the time!) It’s good to have someone that will be blunt with me at times but someone that has my best interests at heart and that I can talk to about whatever and that I really respect. I definitely didn’t like having someone ‘in charge’ of me at the beginning but as we work together I greatly see the benefits!

Basically just being a relay worker.
I think by having a relay role it has made me approach things differently. It is definitely nice not having to organise things but just being at events to talk to people and help out where I can. Making the effort to talk to different people I think has been the most rewarding thing I could have done so far. I can’t believe how many great conversations I’ve had and how many people I have got to know on more than a surface level from just one or two conversations. I’m not sure if my demeanour has changed, or I’ve got better at asking questions or if God’s just broken down barriers. But I have had so many incredible real conversations with people in such a short space of time!

I’m pretty much loving relay right now! Although I’m sure there will be times when I will need to come back to these highlights and see them as highlights again!

I hope to blog some great freshers fortnight stories soon! It has been a pretty exciting couple of weeks.