I started reading Lucy Mill’s new book ‘Undivided Heart’ on the train to ‘Gathering of Women Leaders’, a space where inspiring women are making a difference within the church. Lucy, another inspiring woman, draws on a strong theological and biblical grounding to challenge us, and herself, to question what has shaped us, and created our normal, a normal in which life can be fragmented into many different factions, pulling us in different directions.
Lucy covers the pull of the internet, considering how far this has created an image-driven society, and the pros and cons of that, including the growth of the #nofilter hashtag as a call for authenticity, whilst the ‘like’ culture is a hyped version of an age-old need for approval. There are both users and makers of digital tools – don’t demonise or idolise it, but seek to understand it. She looks at the struggles Christians may feel in self-promotion, the challenges of labels classifying aspects of life rather than the wholeness of life, and challenges the shallowness of the prosperity gospel.
She looks at the power of a growth mindset, in which we question what we can learn from failure, rather than a fixed mindset, where we feel that we have ‘failed’ and give up. We are encouraged to look outside ourselves, and consider where we find our identity, outside of our name, job, family, geography, etc. I picked out a quote I particularly loved:
“I wonder, can we stop judging and envying each other’s situations, and instead start sharing them together in a sensitive way, recognising our different circumstances: joy, pain, and all.”
We’re asked to consider what it means to be whole, with an ability to fully live where we are now, rather than ever thinking that we’re living in ‘Plan B’, whilst recognising the uncertainty of waiting (I definitely attune to this within all the cancer tests, etc.). Extended waiting was highlighted: initial patience, hope, irritation, helplessness, despair and eventual submission to the status quo. Even if we manage to hold onto hope, that in itself is emotionally exhausting (isn’t it just!). But there is a promise that our waiting ends at some point!
I liked the notion that Biblical heroes didn’t necessarily squash their emotions with heroic waiting – they rage, they wrestle, struggle, question their trust, or ask daft questions, and throughout they are deeply loved by God. We are also asked to consider the pressure that we put on others by saying to them “but you always manage it”, not giving space to fail – rather let us encourage by saying that we’re coming alongside, whatever the outcome.
Lucy provides prayers, poems and opportunities for reflections throughout the book, which provide a lot of helpful stopping points (and opportunities for action points). We need to move beyond a ‘carrot-and-stick’ reading of the gospel, think about what is love and grace, and why the vitriol when we disagree! Sometimes we need to let go of the labels that can be unnecessary dividers, along with our assumptions and ideas of who God should be!