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Monday, 12 July 2021

Dear Jesus, My Love Life is Cursed


Dear Jesus, 

My love life is cursed.

I can't remember when I first
started to live believing this. 
Maybe you remember. 

Maybe it was 
when that boy (who was so unbelievably good at writing stories),
ran across the dancefloor,
but not towards me.
Maybe it was every dancefloor since. 

Maybe it was 
when the three of us got end-of-uni boyfriends, 
and two out of three had end-of-uni weddings. 
Maybe it was every wedding since. 

Maybe it was
when I heard those talks about how
godliness was desirable,
or when I read those books (I wish I hadn't)
about how godliness
for a woman
was wifeliness and motherhood.
Maybe it was Psalm 127.
Or maybe it was what I saw
in life experience
about how being single, 
can really, really mean
being on your own.

I don't know, Jesus.
But, I want you to know, Jesus,
though, of course, you already do,
I believed it: I was cursed.
Some part of me, anyway,
believed it. 

And sometimes that belief
still hangs around
my neck, 
like a big weight of shame, 
perpetual heartache, 
heartbreak. 

Maybe I started to live by faith 
in this curse, 
when I started to pray again, 
when I started to hold out those vulnerabilities 
even though I couldn't bear for them to be ignored, 
and when it felt like all there was in return 
was frozen, silent skies, 
(and guys who
"didn't really think of [me] that way.") 

Sometimes that belief,
suffocates my heart, 
and it feels like I'm all out of any kind of love. 

And I know, you have your reasons, 
and I know marriage isn't the answer, 
(and if I believed that I would have dived in anywhere,) 
and I know there's a plausibility problem in the church.
And I know you lived this rich life 
(without a wife and a John Lewis gift list)
and I know marriage can be an idol,
and I know my heart is a sin factory,
and I really do believe it is good to stay unmarried, 
(or that it could be, 
and that you could create a way that it really is,)
and at least some part of me believes you really can be trusted, 
even on this, 
but I really am not afraid of being alone, 
so much as I am afraid of being cursed. 

So, Jesus, I know you know, 
but I want you to know anyway. 

Today, I read, 
"the life I live in the flesh, 
I live by faith
in the Son of God who loved me, 
and gave himself for me." 

Jesus,
so often, 
the life I live in the flesh, 
feels so lonely, 
it almost feels disembodied. 
The life I live in the flesh feels 
hollow, 
parched, 
barren. 
Love feels like a theory. 
Not for everyone, 
but for me. 

But today you said, 
live by faith, 
that you are loved, 
by One who gave himself for you. 

You said, 
look to the cross, 
believe its power. 
Believe, you are not cursed, 
but blessed.

But wait... I say, 

And You say, 
blessed are all who take refuge in Him,
(and I have.) 
You say,
blessed are those whose sins are forgiven,
(and mine are.) 
You say, 
blessed are those who mourn,
(and I weep.)
You say,
Jesus is blessed forever,
so blessed are all who take refuge in Him, 
(and I do.)
You say,
cursed is the One who hangs on a tree,
so that in Christ Jesus,
blessing might come
to all who take refuge in Him,
to all who live by faith,
(and I believe,
help my unbelief.) 

I'm weeping as I type, 
ugly, angry tears
of exhaustion, 
and fear- 
so afraid that the bitterness
and disappointment will swallow me whole. 
Your love always overflows- but I am
So afraid that my heart will shrivel up. 
So afraid it will become one warped dead-end.
Afraid that the landscape of my life
will reflect
what I've so often lived by faith in: 
my own emptiness. 

But today you said,
live by faith, 
that you are loved, 
by One who gave himself for you. 

You said, 
there is a river whose streams 
make glad
the dwelling place of God. 
You said you will be with me, 
in my heart, 
that you can make me glad. 


You say, 
whoever trusts me, 
streams of living water will flow, 
from within them. 
(Not just to me, but from me!)
You say, 
even barren lands
can become an oasis of blessing. 
You say, 
blessed is the One who trusts in the Lord, 
she is like a tree, 
planted by water, 
that sends out its roots by the stream, 
and does not fear when heat comes, 
for its leaves remain green. 
She is not anxious in drought, 
for she does not cease to bear fruit. 

Precious Jesus,
You say, 
in You, 
I'm blessed. 
You say, 
in You,
I can bless. 
And I pray, 
that what you say,
will swallow up the rest. 

Just in case anyone else has the same neuroses... here are the passages: Galatians 2/ Psalm 2/ Romans 4/ Psalm 32/ Matthew 5/ Mark 9/ Psalm 21/ Psalm 46/ John 7/ Colossians 2/ 1 Corinthians 7/ Jeremiah 17:7

Friday, 12 February 2021

If I Had One Day Left to Live...

This is going to sound enormously morbid, but the other day I was thinking about what would happen if I died.

I think it was because I was listening to Katy Perry on a run. Now while running often makes me think I might die, that wasn't it. Perry was singing about what she would do if she had one day left to live.

And I thought, if I died, if I had one day left to live... then what?

I thought- I'd write something. I thought, I would tell my friends that what I wanted most for them would be that they'd consider Jesus. I would want to say- your response to Jesus matters! I'd say what I could so that anyone who knew me might throw aside anything that kept them from taking Him seriously, that they'd pick up that gospel at last or chat to that Christian or talk to God, I'd say what I could so that if they'd known pain from me they might know healing from Him, that if they'd known goodness through me they'd see Him as its ultimate Source.

This got me thinking, as these thought processes often do, about whether it really mattered if I existed at all. You know, if all of my love is just the love of Jesus, then why me!? Had I just obliterated my own significance out if existence? Well, thanks for nothing Katy Perry! (I think the song had finished by now!).

My conclusion was this: each human is so inexpressibly precious. My individuality matters.

Because we are each image bearers. Made in the image of God; made to reflect something of his likeness. And we hear it so many times it can just bounce off our foreheads. But really it could blow our minds!

The wonder of it is that every human has some unique way of reflecting the image of God to the world: there is a way I will reflect Jesus that is unique to me, a way you will that is unique to you. Isn't it staggering that we are all so different!? So different! And because of our uniqueness we are precious.

Despite what some church stages might look like, Jesus isn't interested in creating an army of clones. He isn't saying "I am the source of love so none of your love matters." It's more like, "my love is so diverse every image bearer can reflect it uniquely!" He wants individuals.

In fact, he wants to make you the you-est, truest version of you there is, (and me, but you worked better with those words!) to have his glory shine out from you! Especially you. It's not that he wants to make us less us but MORE us! A balloon is more of a balloon with air in it. Individuals are more individual with God in them. (This might not be the strongest image in this post but it's 11.26pm and it's going in!).  

Each person is an image bearer. And each person is different. And each person is dearly loved. And each person can uniquely reflect the love and generosity of God. That diversity is to his absolute glory!

That's why it matters when someone dies. The world isn't filled with 7 billion people who are all the same. Every single person is a precious, unique, wonderful creation, made to bear witness to a precious, unique, wonderful Creator in a precious, unique, wonderul way! If the Creator made you to show his craftsmanship, could you matter more!? 

Van Gogh painted 2000 pieces, but if we learnt that there was one hidden at the back of a cupboard in Arles, would we shrug and say "isn't our collection big enough?" No! We would be clambering to get a glimpse! The genius of the Creator gives the piece its value! We'd be like, "Hello artwork!? Get out the cupboard, you are van Gogh's workmanship!"

Now I've got to the stage where I am standing in a fictional cupboard, talking to fictional artwork, I should probably begin to wrap up.

All this brings me full circle.

Your response to Jesus matters. My response to Jesus matters!

Jesus leaves the 99 sheep to get the one.

Because, to mix metaphors one more time,  that one was made, a masterpiece of the ultimate artist, to showcase something so specific about the ultimate artist, to not only know but to express his love in wonderful ways! There is a loss when any image bearer dies; there is a loss when any image bearer no longer bears its Creator's image- but Jesus doesn't come to destroy faulty paintings, but to restore them to something more beautiful than they could ever have been before.

Each human is a masterpiece; a masterpiece broken; a masterpiece that could be restored.

And each human matters.

I matter.

You matter. 

Perhaps you feel like you are trapped in a dark, dusty cupboard in Arles right now, or in Cardiff or London or... does it make any difference when you are trapped in a cupboard!? 

But all the same, you are precious.

You were made to bear the image of your loving Creator. Made in his image in way no one else was. No one can bear His image in the identical way to you. He has crafted you so that your very you-ness might speak of Him. 

He is our Artist and Restorer! How we respond to Him matters. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Coming Soon!


Dear faithful blog readers, 

If you would be interested in reading a a book by the writer of this blog (that's me!), it is now available for pre-order here. If you are an international reader you may have to order if here. There are a few different sellers now, so feel free to pick your favourite! 

I am praying that it blesses you. If you've enjoyed the blog, maybe there's someone you could share it with, with bonus illustrations by the very talented Rebekah Lesan. 

Just in case you aren't quite convniced- here's what some other folk have said about it: 

This is a lovely book.  Pastoral, sensitive and full of wisdom, it offers comfort and companionship to those who are struggling. I’ve been blessed and encouraged by it. I am thankful to Philippa for sharing from her own experiences and for reminding me of the God who shines brightest in the dark. 

(Emma Scrivener, Author and Blogger, A New Name)

By bringing us back to gospel basics with gentleness, passion and poise, ‘A Certain Brightness’ offers the full breadth of God’s promises to us in manageable – five word! – chunks that even the most weary can handle. These words of hope will refresh your soul.

(Katie Stileman, She has an important job but she is also my pal)

A wonderful and refreshing treat, written out of personal experience of loss and depression. These five–word biblical truths and Philippa’s thoughtful meditations provide bite–sized nourishment and encouragement for dark times. A book to be savoured slowly and reread.

(John Wyatt, Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics UCL and author of Matters of Life and Death and Dying Well )

These beautiful, honest and hope–filled devotions are a joy to read. With a poet’s ear and a pastor’s heart, Philippa Wilson gently points bruised believers to the saviour who became bruised for us.

(Matt Searles, Director, South Central Gospel Partnership and Author of Tumbling Skies)

This book helpfully distils profound gospel–centred thoughts into accessible daily devotionals. It will help anyone facing trials and darker seasons of life to cling to Jesus (or rather, and more wonderfully, to see how Jesus clings on to them).

(Scott and Cathy Thomson, Gospel Centred Parenting)

Readers in the midst of hardship – those seasons when it’s so taxing to read and process – will especially appreciate how Philippa presents comforting truths from Scripture in five short words. I’m making a list of friends and counselees who will love this book, confident it will help them feel embraced and strengthened by the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 

(Janice M. Cappucci, Writer, Storm Clouds of Blessing)

… a breath of fresh air in a world of carefully curated social media profiles and their unremittingly upbeat images. … encourages us to lift our eyes off ourselves and fix them on the unchanging character and purposes of God. 

(James Griffiths, Reverend, St Denys, Lisvane)

These simple, yet profound, devotions, bring the light and life of scripture to those who are struggling through times of darkness and depression. Philippa writes with raw honesty, gentle humour and, above all, Christ–centred hope. There are treasures here for all of us, however we are feeling.

(Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbes)

In the darkest of days, sometimes all we can consume is a few morsels at a time. A Certain Brightness provides just that – morsels of gospel truth. This devotional is written for the weary and down–trodden. It is a gentle and quiet whisper that cuts into the cacophony of our minds, reminding us of the One who loves us most.

(Christina Fox, Writer, A Heart Set Free)

When the brokenness of the world feels overwhelming, and we feel as though the darkness is surrounding us, these bite–size, yet Biblically rich, devotions, will help point us back to the saviour who meets us in our brokenness, remind us of the gospel, and encourage us to keep rejoicing in the midst of the darkness. 

(Charlotte Downing, UCCF)

With lots of love, 
Philippa 

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Graveside


 

Another trip around the sun,
Another November nearly through -
And I'm standing at my graveside,
Soil in hand,
Staring at the depths
and thinking
R.I.P.

R.I.P the me
Who would have been loved at 23,
R.I.P. the me
Who by now would be a mother of three,
R.I.P the me
Who'd have known community,
Thrived as a missionary,
Been healthy, been happy, been holy-
Who'd have been done with therapy.

I know a man who said that
to really live you need to really die,
That if you want to truly flourish,
It starts with the death of I.

That's why I'm standing at my graveside
Weeping "R.I.P, me"-
Because that man died at thirty three-
Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust, 
R.I.P. 
A seed that had to perish
in the dark,
before it bloomed to glory.

So, another trip around the sun,
Another familiar chill,
And I am standing at my graveside,
Soil in hand,
But saying "R.I.P me",
And trying to believe.

I'm trying to believe
That growth can come from the barren, frosty earth,
That death and death and death
will eventually give way to birth.

So much of me has died here
Year on year on year,
Of dreams and dread and dread and death,
Of dreams, then dread, then death.
Winter has followed winter,
Who would dare to hope for spring?

Yet I'm standing at my graveside.
The last of the leaves
are swept away by the bitter, icy breeze,
But I'm still trying to believe,
Even as I grieve,
That one day, "R.I.P me"
might become a song of resurrection,
A song of victory.


Sunday, 27 September 2020

Disappointed Woman


I wrote this poem in response to our sermon this morning, on Matthew 9:18-26. People often talk like it wasn't a big thing for the woman to reach out to Jesus, but if you've ever seen your hopes shattered, you'll know differently. 

If she trusted you with her hope-
if,
though she had reached out,
so many times,
fragile heart in trembling hands,
and if,
though she had seen gleaming hope slip through fingers
and shatter into sharp fragments that scattered
so that what remained of light,
tumbled from sight, 

If she,
dreams in tatters,
unravelled, worn,
torn to shreds,
to a life of dread
If she,
who had reached out,
so many weary times before—
in to her purse,
towards hands that promised help but made it worse,
to Yahweh, for rescue from her curse,
only to watch her hope slip, crack, clatter, 
fracture beyond recognition. 
If she,
who’d gone on reaching out,
year on year on desperate year, 
still in pain,
still in lonely, scarlet shame-
with arms grown weak from the reaching, 

If she could gather up all those rusted shards
that had been trodden to dust
time and time and
time again,
If she, with whatever sliver was left of the preciousness of it,
Though fearful,
Though quiet, 
Though utterly spent, 
Though she could not have borne to watch it fail
for what would have been the hundred, thousandth time,
could reach out, 
to You,
and trust You with her hope,
maybe,
just maybe,
I could trust You with mine. 


Monday, 31 August 2020

No Tear Unnoticed



Revelation 7v17

♡ "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." ♡

There is a tearless morning coming! What I love about this verse is a) the promise of comfort b) that no tear will be rendered insignificant or irrelevant- every tear will be noticed; every tear will be wiped away; every cause we have had for sadness will be acknowledged and healed c) the fact that comfort will come through intimacy and relationship- God himself will do it: in tenderness, in mercy and in love.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Unforsaken


Hebrews 13v5

♡ "Be content with what you have, for he has said, 'never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'"♡

Depression often feels like being forsaken, so this promise is so beautiful. This is the wonder of God's generosity and grace: he doesn't promise to send help from afar, or to chuck a few blessings to me down in the pit... nope, he has joined me in the pit- this pit, and countless others, and has committed himself to my good right here where it's messy. My mind may forsake me, my friends may forsake me, my health may forsake me... but Jesus never will.
 
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