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it’s been a difficult week so far. not really sure what’s going on, but my mood has been sliding around all over the place. been getting sad about nothing much, getting easily upset by stupid things, finding it hard to get along with people, finding it really hard to play the piano properly, finding it very hard to get out of bed in the morning (okay, that’s nothing new).

i have a suspicion this is because i had a great day on saturday at the equip women’s conference.

it was at darling harbour, and there were 2300 women all there to hear talks on the topic ‘life actually’. i was initially daunted by the number of women – i’m not good with crowds – and was already stressed about it as i had personally typed in about 75% of their rego forms, but when i arrived i was just blown away by the enthusiasm and the passion of these women for learning more about God and being in fellowship with one another. also, i love singing with that many people, it’s just a wonderful experience.

di warren’s talk on james 1:1-18 was really encouraging, moving and challenging.

James 1:2-8
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

she talked about the joy james describes in verse 2 and how confronting a statement that is. is this impossible? how on earth could you find joy in suffering? she talked about trials being painful but not pointless, that they lead to strength and maturity. God gives us the understanding we need when life gets hard, even though we doubt this promise. he is preparing us to wear our crown of life (v12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him).

another thing di said that stuck with me is that the danger of trials is not that they spoil our lives, but that they reveal our sin. ie, you hurt me, i hurt you and i think i’m justified in behaving that way. that is quite a hard thing to remember, a hard thing to avoid, as i am tempted so often to just lash out or repay hurt with hurt.

jane tooher spoke on james 1:19-27.

james 1:19-25
…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

not listening to someone rejects relationship with them, and it’s impossible to learn anything about one another if we’re totally focused on ourselves and in love with the sound of our own voice. i feel like i have completely ignored that exhortation to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. i babble constantly about nothing in particular, i say hurtful things to people, i have fights with my friends in front of people i hardly know. it’s not wise and it’s not loving and it makes me feel hollow and foolish.

miriam chan pointed out in her short talk on proverbs 18:20-21 that we remember poisonous words spoken to us and the damaging effect they can have, but we struggle to remember those we have spoken to others.

i went to jenny salt’s elective on ‘contentment’ (along with 900 other women seeking contentment!). jenny’s insights were things i had heard or learned before, but she was very honest and open about her own life and her own discontent and in a weird way it is always encouraging to know that someone you admire, someone you think has it all together, goes through the same things as you do. it is always good to have a reminder that although we won’t always understand what is going on in our lives or why things are happening to us, God is never other than wise in everything he does. even the smallest detail of our lives is under his control, and the depth of his love for us is such that we cannot even comprehend it. so why wouldn’t i trust that he will give me everything i need in any situation? (there is a difference between what i need and what i want! that’s something else to grapple with)

so possibly having all that incredible spiritual feeding on saturday and being confronted with things and recommitting everything to God means that i’m going to find life a bit of a challenge. i just have to remember what i’ve learned and put it into practice. i don’t want to have walked away from the mirror and forgotten what i look like.

philippians 4:12-13
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.