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Which way forward ?

There are seasons in life, where the route forward is not clear, seasons where anxiety, concern and even fear can grip your heart.

It might be because of the loss of a loved one, the security of a job vanishing, a new influence in your life that seems to dominate your waking thoughts.

During these times we often live by our emotions, acting and reacting to the world around us, through the lens of how we feel, not necessarily how we should treat people, but mainly how we want to be treated.

That's OK for a season, but eventually, we have to find a way through a balance, and perspective which slowly replaces how we feel and shines a light on the path that leads to the way forward, the breakthrough and to peace.

Over the last 25 years of ministry, I've experienced this feeling four or fives times. Each time, something big happened in life and because of those occasions, each time it made me re-evaluate everything.

What I have found in my own walk, is the best thing to do, is slow everything down, take some time out and create some headspace, increase prayer and rely on friends. Take time to talk things through with a few people who you know might be kind, but also you know will be honest. In many of the situations of life, we simply can trust our entire future to the emotions we are feeling in that period.

These last three years have been particularly tough, a combination of leaving the security of a full-time job, Rebekah having a particularly nasty miscarriage and moving house from Manchester back to South Wales. If one of those things didn't get me, the other two certainly did. The first impact for me was sleep, I lost the ability to sleep through the night. The second was argument. Rebekah and I found it was easy to argue and more difficult to talk things through. The third was fighting the feeling of giving up and packing ministry in.

It was a slow process, but I'm glad I forced myself to take long walks, eat better food, forced myself to spend a day with a friend each month and talk things through. Forced myself to not watch TV and talk to my wife about the difficult stuff that was going on. Forced myself to deal with just one small thing per day, which would improve things.

Echoing in my soul was a quote I had written years before - Giving up is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. How true those words were in this situation.

I started to read more of the Bible and use the time when I wasn't asleep in the night to pray. It took a while, but things started to get better, the path ahead clearer. It would be easy just to blame the circumstance we found ourselves in and live in regret, should we have moved ? Should I have left my job at the time, could we have done things which would have avoided the miscarriage ? I can't go back in time and fix any of those things, so they have to become part of life's journey, whether I like it or not.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, slow things down, don't make rash or quick decisions, take time out, breathe, exercise, pray, talk to close friends and make only small decisions which help over all things. One such decision for me was to review all the little bills I was paying for, subscriptions, giving, licenses for things - many of which I never used. I cancelled everything I could over time and put that money to better us, a treat there, a meal now and then, it all worked out in the end.

I have been surprised by the opportunity that has happened in this season too. Things have happened which wouldn't have if life had remained the same as before. Learning to also appreciate those moments is so valuable, thanking God for the roof over our heads, to meeting new friends, to new opportunities in ministry.

Never forget God is working all the time, when we are happy, sad indifferent or fed up. Identifying His hand in the good and understand even in the bad, He will help you find your way through is such an important thing to learn.

I often tell my six year old, failure, mistakes or bad behaviour is an opportunity to do better next time and an opportunity to learn. Pick your self up, slow things down, focus on doing one small thing and have a good day today. Your path ahead will become clear soon.

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