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Look back and smile...

When you don’t feel like you can plan the future, it’s often a positive step to look back and smile.

When we can’t plan our summer holidays this year, 

it has warmed our hearts to look back at photos of holidays gone by and remember those moments.

When we can’t get close to those around us, 

it helps to make us smile talking about the meals we’ve shared, the laughs we had and the stories we hold of the times we’ve spent together.

As we look back, we remind ourselves of the times that have felt good, the times when good people were placed in our path and when tough times were got through and things improved. It helps us to build our faith and strengthen our resilience.

Resilience is that ability we have to bounce back from adversity and things that knock us.

Resilience is grown and developed as we get to know ourselves, listen to ourselves and remind ourselves that we need looking after too.

When we spend good times with good people we build up our bank of good memories that can remind of good times when we need them.

When we spend time doing the things that bring us happiness, connect us with things that bring us energy, that help us focus on ourselves for moments away from trials and tribulations then these feed the soul and build up our bounce-back-ability.

I was reminded that this week is a year since I saw an advert for the job of Chaplain.

I was reminded of the conversations I had and the steps that were put in motion to bring us here. What a difference a year makes.

My eye could be drawn to the stress of moving house, the anxiety of new schools for the children, the worry over the work, then punctuated points of illness and then this current time that we are in. But I choose to do different.

I choose to remember the moments of faith that felt God given – the barriers of finding a house, school places for three children, and work prospects for my wife. Barriers that should take weeks to sort dissolved within days and became blessings. 

In Paul’s letters to the young churches that he’d set up, he often reminds them – in the tough times – of the hardships and hopefulness that Paul knew so well. He reminds them of the barriers that disappeared, the conflicts that dissolved, the sadness that were transformed and how they had bounced back. He reminds them of his own journeys and how through faith he had bounced back. These things are not to be ignored or forgotten but kept as a reason to be faithful the next time.

Maybe now is the time to start a journal, or to fill your calendar or start an album:

Start with the good days, the fun times, the sunny days and the moments that make you smile.

Then add the times you felt stuck and prayer offered an answer. Times when a conversation, a cuppa, a meeting of minds opened up opportunities.

Lastly consider the times that make you thoughtful and remember what gave you energy and helped you bounce back – however slowly.

And note down – maybe in the front cover, maybe in your notes – things that remind you to look after yourself when there’s not much bounce left.

God has done great things for us.

He continues to watch over us: Smile, Encourage and Be Good to us.

God blesses us in ways we cannot even imagine. May you be reminded of this today and be blessed by Him who loves you.


(Many of you will notice that I use British Sign Language at times and enjoy signing as I sing)