Wow. It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a thing. Massive thank you to Tom Ward who wrote the most recent blog post in The Godly Hearts Column (which if you haven’t read, don’t be a fool any longer – check it out here), which I think after almost a year is pretty much coming to an end. I can hear you now, thank you Annie for finally ending it. How much did you really have to say on that stuff? Well, as it turns out lads, quite a bit.
It was in the middle of worship, as loud and emotive as it was, in the middle of Somerset surrounded by thousands of other like-minded, bearded and sock-and-sandal wearing weirdos (jokes, turns out some Christians are super hot. Good job, JC) that God really seriously spoke to me. It’s been a summer of highs and lows for me. I’m about to embark on my third year at university and if I’m honest I haven’t exactly been all-excited about it. It’s been a lot of faffing about and panic and then excitement and wonder at what on earth is going to happen this coming year. Crap, I’m graduating. HOW WILL I FIT THE CAP ON MY HEAD? Must invest in hairpins aplenty now.
No, but seriously, it’s been a bit of an up and down rollercoaster in my head. I’ve been wondering why, when I’ve been sitting in my PJs all day and wondering what the hell I should be doing with my life (who would have thought a theology degree would leave me, well, clueless?) that it seems like the world outside is just moving on without me. In fact, it seemed like the world was moving on LEAPS AND FLIPPING BOUNDS. There I am, deciding on which ice-cream flavour I should eat or whether or not to shower today, and all it takes is a cheeky scroll through my Facebook feed to see that everyone else had showered and overdone the Ben and Jerry’s long ago.
So I’m in this tent. We’re back at New Wine (which is where the bearded Jesus look-a-like competition takes place). I’ve heard so many talks on living my life for Christ; I’ve attended so many seminars, I’ve had prayer, I’ve made my voice come out all scratchy because all I’ve done is sing to my King. I’ve done the Christian bit. But, in amongst all that, I have been so pissed off with God. That’s right, I’m taking the angry psalms and I’m Essex-ing them right up. Put simply, I was just angry and upset with God. Why God, have I been sitting in yesterday’s pants instead of living my life? Why aren’t you taking me anywhere, why aren’t you doing ANYTHING?
“Give me the year, Annie”
“Just give me the year. You’ll see”
At first I didn’t know what to say. In my usual Annie way, my immediate response was to question why on earth I was being made to wait a year before anything happens to me. But then I realised, it was all about what is going to happen to me that this year is going to show me. I don’t understand it, and I am definitely not pretending to either. I’ve fought with God on and off about this year business for a little while now. He’s told me to journal it all, so I have. I’ve been writing out all of my thoughts, some of them I’m willing to share with you on here, and others no one really should read ever (kinda like that one about yesterdays’ pants. Sorry guys).
I’m deciding to blog all of my main thoughts about all of this on here. You don’t have to read it, I’ll write it anyway, but I thought sharing with you will keep me accountable to God. I don’t really want to miss a thing, to be honest. In all of my stubbornness and anger that sometimes crops up out of nowhere, I’d rather not miss what God is doing. So there you have it. New blog series. BOOM.
My initial thoughts were good thoughts. I realised that it turns out Annie is really a good thing. I’ve been realising this more and more through the last series, and just generally in my life. I’m learning to listen more to people, to what they have to say about me, and most of the time they aren’t bad things. I have people around me who encourage me and affirm me in what I’m doing – and it’s just made me realise that actually, I’m pretty blessed. But as the weeks have gone on, the rain has started to pour outside. It’s like I’m sitting in my pjs and I look outside and all there is are those gross clouds that just look like sadness and there is no glimmer of sunshine anywhere. The world is moving on, no matter how much I realise that Annie Edwards is alright, or that I start to notice my affirming friends around me (massive thank you to you all. My heart is literally swelling with love for you right now!). Despite all of this, I still somehow seem to see the pain in the world and the heartache of those around me.
Bad things happen. And when bad things happen, God appears to be MIA. Hands up those who’ve ever felt like this? AMEN.
Be it someone has caused some heartbreak somewhere, or a serious injustice has been done to someone I love or know, it seems that in the last few days especially I seem to be seeing a lot of that. I see people who are supposed to be displaying love are displaying quite the opposite, and I see promises that are broken and words seem to be meaningless now. It’s all really rather crap and depressing isn’t it?
If I’m honest, I’ve cried a lot too.
I was at Momentum this year, which was incredible. As always, God moved, mainly because we gave Him the space to do so, but that’s beside the point. Momentum was great, and it was the first time I’d been in a tent with Mike Pilavachi that wasn’t at Soul Survivor. Soul Survivor was great because I’d come away from the 5 days and feel absolutely invincible. I would feel like I could take down the sex trade or abolish slavery in every country in the world or whatever. I felt like Jesus, if I’m totally honest with you all. But this year, as fun and as worth it as it was, I just realised that it isn’t Soul Survivor anymore. I haven’t come away feeling like I can take on the world, or that I can end suffering forever. I’ve just come out of it realising that I need Jesus if I ever want suffering to end. I need Jesus because I don’t get it right a lot of the time. I need Jesus because I see heartbroken people and unloved loved ones, and as much as I can cry on God’s behalf (or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes), how am I supposed to see where He is in all of this?
In Genesis, there is a beautiful girl called Hagar. I can only assume she was beautiful, because she was Egyptian, and Egyptians are flipping models I swear. But anyway. She’s probably about 15/16, and she’s just run away from Abraham and his wife Sarah, after they’ve used her so they can have a baby. It’s pretty nasty, right? Now, if I were her, I’d wonder where on earth God was too. I’d wonder where he was in those conversations, those actions, and that pain – and in the last few weeks I feel like I’ve been more of a sideliner rather than the main event. Yet in the desert, where God comes to meet her, she simply says this:
You are the God who sees me.
Wow. The first time I read this, I nearly cried (ha, tears are clearly central to this post!). Whenever I read it again, I just seem to be humbled by God. You are the God who sees me. There is just something about those words that haunts me. I’m not sure whether it’s her situation or her pain, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that God, in all of his goodness and his glory, chose to look upon Hagar with love – and he did just that: he loved her. He saw her pain, and her heartache, and the rubbish. He saw the rain, and he gave her an umbrella.
I love that verse. I love that passage. In giving God the year, my prayer is that I see more of Him at work but also more of Him in my every day. The fact is, tears will come and pain will arrive, but God will always provide me with an umbrella. I don’t have the answers, I don’t know why bad things are happening; why promises have been broken or trust has been taken away. I just don’t know. But what I do know, is that in my humanness and my rubbishness, and in the rubbish that has been done to me and those that I love, Jesus sees me in all of that. He sees my tears. He sees the fresh pairs of pants I really should put on, and he sees the realness that I might not show to everybody else. He sees me, and He loves me.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. I suppose I just want to document all that I’m expecting will happen to me this next year. But more than anything, I want to document the way that God is loving me through it and the way that He sees me. I guess it’s just real-life isn’t it?
But what I am learning is, there are times for PJs and hiding away from the world. I may be ready to do this as an Olympic sport, but there are definitely days appropriate for this. However, sometimes to my dismay, there are also times for stepping outside into the real world and braving whatever might be past the front door. What was it Jesus said about coming to give me life and life to the full? Turns out he meant more than watching Netflix under a blanket.
Can I see God in all of the sadness right now? Not at the moment. But you know what I can see? Some little trickles of sunshine falling through the rain, and I feel a newfound trust rising inside of me. While I might not always have the answers, I have to trust that the God I know and love does, and that my God will always come through for me – it’s the one promise that I can always trust not to be broken. It’s the one love I know will never fail.
“Give me the year, Annie”
Okay, God. It’s yours.
Peace and blessings x