Immeasurably More

It seems a whole month has flown by since I last posted here. It has been a hectic few weeks to say the least. Last week the internship with CAP finished and I moved home to my new flat. I’m now off work until my job starts on 1st September. But I’ve found my time has been eaten up by the mountain of flatpack furniture I’ve had to conquer and all the dozens of jobs you find yourself with when you move house. However, in amongst all the unpacking and constructing, I’ve had time to reflect on my internship year with CAP.

There are so many different angles I could take when I look back on the past twelve months. In truth at times it has been really tough. There have been weeks where I wondered if I would be able to stick it out. Events unfolded that tested my resolve and sometimes the internship has been a real struggle. It would be so easy to focus on the negatives.

Back in October last year one of the other interns set us a task during some of our internship time. The task was to write a letter to God outlining our hopes and fears for the year, what we wanted to learn and gain. During the last week of the internship we were given these letters back to read. And as I read it, what I was struck by the most is simply how much I’ve learnt and grown. When I wrote this letter I was doubting my decisions to move to Bradford, missing friends and family and feeling like I would never fit in at CAP. I started the internship with my confidence at rock bottom, life was tough and I didn’t feel good enough. Now as I read this letter I can see I’ve come so far and changed such a lot.

I’m not sure the lessons I’ve learnt were necessarily those we were supposed to be learning. I didn’t discover my strengths as a manager or find a flare for leadership. The future hasn’t become any clearer. But from reading this letter, reading what I desired for this year, I can see I got immeasurably more than I asked for.

My biggest wish was to grow in confidence and belief in myself. I think as a result of some really tough years, I was struggling to see the good in myself, to believe the compliments thrown my way. My vision was clouded. I know I’m not all the way there yet but I can see I’ve come a long way in twelve months. I’ve been part of a wonderful team at CAP which has helped me to see that I have unique gifts and talents to bring to the table. To understand that I have much to offer just from being who I am. Writing this year, and the feedback I’ve received, has enabled me to see myself differently. It’s meant I could step out of myself and see myself and the battles I’ve fought from a different perspective.

One of my prayers was that I would ‘be able to help people and make a difference, especially for those who don’t have hope.’ When I was writing those words I don’t think I could have imagined how God would use them. I couldn’t have guessed that God would give me the chance to write for a mental health charity that has 1.4 million likes on Facebook. Throughout this year it has been humbling and moving to see God taking my words and experiences to speak to people. This from the girl who spent the past three years doing a degree in Mathematics!

My biggest concern about the internship year was the fundraising, it felt like a black cloud hovering over my head. I couldn’t see how I would ever reach the £3000 target. But yet again I have seen God’s provision, providing immeasurably more than I asked for. I finished the year having raised £5740, blowing the target out of the water. Thankyou to all those who helped me get there.

I started the year feeling like I would never fit in at CAP that I wasn’t joyful or enthusiastic enough. Now I can see that we are all different, faith is more than just fire and trumpets. Sometimes there is wisdom in the quiet voice of the heart. We were created different, and those differences are precious and to be celebrated. I will never be one of those Christians who is shouting for joy from the rooftops. But there is a depth and grounding to my faith that is of great value and has been hard fought for.

Outside of work I’ve had unexpected opportunities with my church. I was able to get stuck in right from the start and have been privileged to be able to lead worship there. My little church and all the people I have met there have been a wonderful blessing, and another way God has given me more than I needed.

This year as an intern has not been how I would have pictured it. Perhaps it has been different from how I wanted or planned. It has been a year of challenges, but it has also been a year of ‘immeasurably more’. I have met so many amazing people and made some great friends. I have grown more this year than I think I have in any other year of my life. I am excited to see what the next year has in store.

” Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”

Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

Advertisements

Growth

It’s been a long and stressful week. One of those weeks where you get to the end and breathe a sigh of relief. I had my job interview for CAP on Thursday, and preparing for it got me thinking about the last nine months. Reflecting on just how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown.

Change in people is a gradual process, so much so that often we miss it altogether. Sometimes it takes someone looking in from the outside to point it out. I was a very different person when I first came to CAP. I arrived with grief still very fresh in my mind, lacking confidence and belief in myself. I remember coming away from my first few weeks, doubting my ability to fit in, wondering if I was in the right place.  I was the girl dreading the prospect of talking to creditors on the phone, and intimidated by the thought of raising three thousand pounds. I thought if I could keep my head down I could get through it, but I didn’t really see how I was going to grow.

Now nine months later I can see that God has been growing me in ways I would not have predicted. I have a greater understanding of myself and am much more confident and secure. Now challenging calls don’t phase me and I am confident at my job. This year has helped me to rediscover my love of writing, and given me the opportunity to lead worship at church. I have seen God provide above and beyond what I could have imagined with my fundraising (I’m now on over £5600). I’ve had the joy of meeting and working with some amazing people, and to feel like an integral part of a wonderful team. Strangely, for all the growth and change, I feel like I’ve become more and more myself.

DSC_1191

However, growth is painful and this year has been far from easy. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but when you find yourself in the middle of a growth period, it can be difficult to see what is happening. There have been many challenging and confusing weeks, where I have questioned my choices and analysed my decision to come to CAP. Weeks where the changes seemed painfully slow and I wondered if I was growing at all. As I reflected on this I was reminded of something I wrote in this post back in October:

“As I learnt in the heart of Norway, sometimes his purpose doesn’t make sense to our human eyes. We are refined in the heat of the fire, not in the summer sunshine. Fire hurts, God’s plans are not for the faint hearted. To trust God, is to see past the tangled mess of our emotions and circumstances, and fix our eyes on who He is and what we know about His character. The truths that don’t change with our circumstances, the reality of the Almighty God who loved us enough to send His son to die for us.”

This internship has been part of a refining process, a process which I know is far from over. God has got His hand on me, moulding and shaping me into who He created me to be. It hurts to be in the heat of the fire, but it is worth it when you can look back and see what He has created.

Sometimes as Christians we get so fired up with a desire to change part of the world, that we loose sight of the fact that the change must start with us. If we want to be the solution to the problems we see, we have to be prepared to grow. We can’t change the world without being changed ourselves.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” 2 Corinthians 3:18

This is a lifelong process, and today I’m excited to know I’m only at the start of it. These next few weeks are likely to be especially challenging as the recruitment process at CAP comes to its conclusion. None of us know yet what jobs are available or where we may end up. It’s a time of prayer and trust, resting in the assurance that my future is ultimately in God’s hands. His plans can’t be thwarted by the decisions of man. I know wherever I end up, God will continue to grow and shape me.

So for those of you facing challenges right now, be encouraged that God can and will use these situations for growth. Know that whilst you may not see it now, one day you will look back and see just how much you’ve grown, how you’ve been shaped. Growth is worth the hard work.