A Confession of Faith

One evening recently I was sat with my two teenage daughters Sophie and Faith. We were chatting about how it is already hard to remember life before Covid 19. We all agreed that it would seem strange now to be in a packed venue, standing shoulder to shoulder, without the fear of catching each other’s germs. As we talked, Faith casually threw into the conversation “yeah when I was little, I licked the church door handles”. Sophie and I recoiled in perfect unison and then the three of us burst into laughter. Apparently, the metal had a strange sensation, similar to licking a battery! Faith went on to say “Oh and that’s not the half of it”. I am afraid that I am not allowed to share the other confessions, but they will be committed to my little notebook of funny things that the kids have said and done over the years.    

I love their openness and willingness to say “I have done some daft things”. It inspires me to create those safe spaces that we all need, to be open and at times vulnerable. I am just as interested in my children’s fears and failures, as I am in their triumphs. For the past few years, I have become more honest about who I am when nobody is looking. I want to be real, not just on the good days but also when life is hard.

It seems more expected now for all of us to have a degree of transparency and there has been a huge shift over my lifetime towards focussing and sharing our feelings. We have gone from one extreme to the other. My grandparents would rarely talk about how they felt. They lost their son during the second world war, but grief counselling was unheard of then. There was just a sense that mithering about things that cannot be changed was a waste of time. But now in the 21st Century, we are consumed by how we feel and this has become the driving force for every aspect of how we function and often make decisions.            

As believers, we are called to walk by faith and my daughter Faith’s earlier confession got me thinking, what is our real confession of faith? For centuries, the forefathers of the faith have made confessions that were called creeds. Simply put, that is a set of beliefs that guide how we act. The second half of the bible, the New Testament, was written in this way. Most of the books of the New Testament addressed false beliefs or imbalances that we humans are prone to fall into. The truth of the bible is our confession. It doesn’t mean that how we feel about things is not important, but it does put everything in the right order.

Jesus showed us the perfect example of this when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterward was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. Jesus would have been feeling weak and tired and the devil tried to exploit and manipulate. It is literally the oldest trick in the book. But each time Jesus was tempted He confessed the truth “It is written”.  Through Jesus’s ministry, He acknowledged people’s emotions and grief and He ministered to people who were in distress. But whereas we are prone to dwell where we feel, God shows us throughout the bible that He dwells with us and He invites us to dwell with Him; where there is life and hope. Dwelling has a sense of permanence, of settling in. Rather than just visiting when things are tough. I am looking forward to Faith’s next confessions. But in the meantime, I want to take up the invitation to confess what is true and dwell with Him, no matter how I feel. That is my confession of faith.     


I Can’t Complain

I grew up in a rural part of Yorkshire and I still love to hear older people speak in strong Northern accents. I can remember when I lived there, if I asked anyone if they were okay, they would often reply with “Aye lass, I can’t complain”. I have been thinking about this expression recently because for many of us as carers, there are times when others’ involvement could be more helpful, but it is not always easy to say so, for several reasons.

We are stuck with professional relationships for better or worse, leading us to accept power imbalances that we wouldn’t tolerate in other areas of our lives. Some support and professional input are hard enough to come by, so we don’t want to jeopardise it. After all, those we care for need these people and services, leading many to wait until things get desperate before complaining. And there are times when we just don’t want to be ‘that person’. I can remember once thinking, I used to be nice before I became a carer! Even those who are confident to “tell it like it is”, get tired of conflict and tension. With family and friend relationships, there can be similarities, in that we may rely on the support. Then there are those who suffer in silence, out of fear of being judged or rejected.    

So where does faith come into it? Some believe it is wrong to complain and there are scriptures to back up that viewpoint. For example:   

Philippians 2:14-15 (TPT) 14 “Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. 15 For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe”.

If you, like me would rather avoid conflict, you might be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief at this point. These are wise words that Paul writes to the church in Philippi, to encourage unity. But there is more to it than that. As carers we are living out a God given mandate. Isaiah Ch 1 v 17 “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows”.

At first glance these two passages could seem contradictory, but there is both a godly and ungodly way to complain. The first doesn’t blame God or condemn others, it doesn’t belittle people or tear them down and it doesn’t bring division. The opposite kind of complaining is popular though because it brings relief, releases pressure and makes us feel justified. The problem is, these benefits are shallow and momentary, ultimately leaving us feeling empty because we are called to honour God in everything we say and do. It is an easy habit to form and a difficult one to break, though it can be done.

The Rules of Engagement

It is not easy to play by different rules, when dealing with stretched and sometimes broken systems, but when we do, we become ‘salt and light’. Despite appearances, attitudes never go unnoticed and forgiveness is rarely forgotten.

  1. Wherever possible, take it to God first.  

Psalm 142:1–2 (NIV) “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble”.

When we take our complaints to God first, it gives a bigger perspective. Then if we need to talk with others later, it can be the difference between just gossiping and grumbling, to sharing positive strategies.      

  • Choose your end goal and stick to it.

It is important to know what you want to achieve through your complaint, to avoid anyone sidestepping the real issues. Staying focussed also helps us to steer clear of making personal judgements. I know it sounds simple but it is common to question others’ motives, whilst being anxious about being judged ourselves. We need to pray for wisdom to understand what is important, even to know if this battle is the one to fight, or if it will resolve itself without our involvement.   

  • Ask God to go before you in situations that you struggle with.

Deuteronomy Ch 31 v 8 (NIV) “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And finally, remember to show gratitude when others’ do things well. This is so much more than good manners or making another person feel appreciated, although those are important. In the Bible, being thankful is often associated with peace and according to Dr Robert A. Emmons, gratitude provides a whole range of positive effects for our own physical and mental health, and wellbeing. It also gives us more empathy, improves sleep and builds our self-esteem.  

So, next time you speak out (in the right way) for the person in your care, know that you are going about God’s business and He will bless you for it!


New Exciting Daily Devotional Journal

We are about to launch an exciting new daily devotional journal for those who care. Written here in the UK by Ruth Bradshaw, who has over twenty years of experience in a variety of contexts.

This uplifting and thought provoking devotional is specifically written for those who care.

Watch this space for more information and a launch date