Sarah McCarten


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When I tell you that I’m scared of failing.

playing_playstation_flickr__cc__s-revenge_4664950_lrg‘I can’t believe he’s got no ambition, he doesn’t want to do anything with his life, he just wants to stay home and play on his PlayStation all day.’ My friend explained how her son had no desire to work towards his A Levels. She’d pushed him got him through his GCSEs, kicking and screaming. He’d passed, mostly, but he’d not done brilliantly. She told me that she hadn’t thought that things could get worse, she said she’d thought it wasn’t possible for him to try less, but she’d seen a whole differently level of complacency.  She couldn’t believe how content he was in underachieving.

I listened to my friend and I offered her some advice, I told her that I thought her son was scared of failing and scared of being out of control. I explained to her that if he didn’t try he didn’t fail; he was in control of his future. It might not be a bright future, but it was a future he could take deliberate steps towards. Even if those steps were sitting at his games console.

My friend thanked me for my advice; she said she’d never thought of it that way. She asked me if I’d studied psychology, I told her that I hadn’t, she called me insightful.  I didn’t tell her it was because I saw myself all over that image of her son.

I could tell you about many times I’ve not tried and not failed; but I’m not going to do that. Mostly because it would be embarrassing, but partly because it’s self-indulgent.

What I will tell you about is something I’m trying; something I might fail, but I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m going to try being a writer.

I hear you saying; ‘Sarah, you have a blog, what are you talking about’. What I’m saying to you is that I’m taking it seriously now, outside of people and work and church this is going to be my priority. That means, writing when I don’t feel like it, writing about the tough stuff, writing consistently, and trying to get my writing in other places than my blog.625488_10152709706935004_895663287_n

I tell you this because I want you to keep me accountable, please, because if you know me, you know what I’m like.

Hear me right, this is not an ‘I’m putting all my eggs in one basket’, like if my blog fails I fail. I’m not going to give up my job and move into my parents loft so I can be a writer. I’m telling you I’m going to try and I might fail.

As part of this, I’m taking Elora Ramirez eCourse Story101.

I tweet here.


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When I tell what I believed about church.

churchSome time during 2006 I wrote this and then I said it at a talk I gave at the home group I was part of:

‘I don’t want to be part of a church that is renowned for building good venues, or for doing good services. I don’t want the church of my generation to be remembered for the great music we have produced or the talented worship leaders we’ve have.

I don’t want to be part of a church where everyone is lovely and I don’t want to be part of a church where I’m friends with everyone.

The church I want to be part of is in love with and in awe of Jesus.  Where the most important part of everything we do together is whether or not Jesus shows up. A church that is totally sold out for Him, where nothing else matters.  A church that will do anything to connect with their God, even if that means late nights and early mornings everyday, we will do what it takes.  Because the truth is if we seek His Kingdom first, everything else will fall into place.

If we are the church and we do it right, this will become so attractive to people who don’t yet belong to us, that they will want to come in and we will take them in, us connecting with each other and with our God will be our outreach and our mission.

I want to be part of a church that’s raw and that’s real.  A church that is searching for meaning.

I want to be part of real support network where we can call upon each other whenever and wherever we need to.  It’s safe to be honest and vulnerable.  It’s not meant to be fun all the time, but it’s not meant to be hard all the time either. We will see and know the joy that surpasses all understanding, daily.

The church is accountable, and responsible for each other.

The Church I want to be part of is a place where there is an opportunity for collective worship, through song and by other means.

The church I want to be a part of understands that people are different, and that one congregation doesn’t fit all but ultimately we all fit together.

The community in which the church is, is not necessarily the place where they live but the group of people whom they are a part of, that could be the people who they work with or their social group or their family’s, but these are the people who they reach out to.

I want to be part of a church that lives in the reality of the cross.

I want to believe that there is a place for everyone in the church and that if I’m in my right place that when I’m not there I’ll be missed, not in an arrogant way but just in a where’s Sarah, it’s not the same without her, no one can fulfil my role the way I do.  Everyone’s contribution is valid and valuable.  The church aught to be a place where people are changed and where transformations occur – we shouldn’t be the same person who arrived.

We need to make disciples of each other and make ourselves vulnerable enough for others to make disciples of us.

I read it again and I cried a little.

During the time I wrote this the house group I was a part of was working out whether or not to go it alone as a house church. Ultimately, we decided we’d be better off on our own. I left the group about 18 months after it’s formation moving London to study theology and about a year after that the group stopped meeting altogether. I tell you this to give you some of my back-story, not because I think our church failed, but because I think it was brilliant, it was just what a lot of needed for that time.

The reason that I cried was because I was such and idealist young person. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was, for sure, but I had aspirations about where I wanted to be. So often these days I’m cynical but I produce no alternative. I say that things are bad, but that’s just how things are.

I’m not saying that I was right in all the things I wrote, but at least I had purpose; If I wrote it now I’d certainly be more articulate and my theology better.

Someone once said that we should be the change we want to see. I’ve not been that I’ve been that and for that I am sorry.

Thanks so much for reading, it really does mean the world to me, I tweet here, you should take a look I’m pretty entertaining.

 


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When I tell you why I’m writing again.

imageI feel like I’m a fraud.

I feel like that partly because I’m not a writer and partly because I’m not prepared to share all of myself on the internet.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to call myself a writer. I’m convinced that it’ll never be my profession, but I am convinced that it’s something I should be doing and that it is a part of my calling.

The thing is, that has never bothered me before, I don’t mind saying ‘I write’ or ‘I have a blog’ the writer label is something I’ve never really aspired to.

I’ve been reading lots of wonderful blogs over the past few months and I see people sharing honestly and frankly and it is beautiful. It’s not because I can’t write like that, it’s not because I don’t have those stories. It’s because it’s not me. That’s not my way. I’ve come to realise that is alright.

People share things in their blogs that I don’t even talk to my best friend about. That’s me, I’m not a big ‘sharer’, and in general, I’m happy with that. But then I feel guilty, I feel like a phoney because I’m not revealing a secret about myself every other week on my blog.

So I stopped writing.

There’s been this massive gaping hole in my blog.

I received some advice from a couple of wonderful friends recently; that when it comes down to it if you’re being yourself you’re not being disingenuous.

So that’s it. I’m back! My writing might not be like everyone else, but it’s me, and that’s the best that I’ve got for you.

Would you excuse me if my voice is a little croaky over the next while, I’m working on using it again.

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I’m including this post in Kirsten Oliphant’s Writerly Blog Hop, if you’d like to you can check it out here. I tweet here, do follow me. Thanks so much for reading, it really does mean a lot to me.


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Jealousy

A couple of months ago I put out a request for things that you guys might like to see me write about. I got a solitary request, which was from my lovely friend Max. So thanks for that guys!

Max asked me to write about the person that I am most jealous of in the world. Christians aren’t supposed to get jealous are they?  So I thought it quite an odd question, and apart from Max’s girlfriend, there aren’t many people who I’m envious of really.

I try to be a the-glass-is-half-full kind of a girl. So seriously choosing a person of whom I’m jealous is a hard one. I might look at a girl and think; ‘you’re married and happy, I’m jealous of you,’ but then I look at her husband and think ‘actually I got the better deal.’ So, I’ve decided to write about the kind of life traits that I am jealous of. I know that it’s not exactly what Max requested, but I’m using [a little] artistic licence.

People who get to write for a living.
Please don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I’m so grateful for the fun I get to have at work and the flexibility my job affords me. However, I am jealous of those people who get to spend their whole time writing and cultivating their craft. More than that, I’m jealous that they have enough inspiration and motivation to fill their time. I’m jealous that they don’t get bored.

People who know what they’re doing with their lives.
My dad has never had another job. He started working for the company he works for when he was 16 years old, this year he will be 55, that’s a long time. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. He did of course start at the bottom and work his way up, but essentially his career has been the same. I think that I see him sometimes and think I want that, he knows exactly what he’s doing, whereas I do not. I can see about 3 strides ahead of me, he sees to retirement, and he has done since I was a little girl.

So when I see my peer with a plan, I do get a little envious. I think I wish I knew with certainty what I want to be when I grow up. For me the uncertainty comes with this desire I have not to fail. If I say, for example, that I want to be a writer when I grow up, then if I do not do that I have failed. But if I say, I want to be a nanny for now; I’m pretty successful at that.

Married people.
I have a lot of friends who are married. While I look at most of their spouses and think I wouldn’t want to wake up with you every morning. There is something that I’m envious, and that’s the fact that they’re done with the dating game. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy going on dates, but there’s something about the security of their marriages that I feel like I’d like to have. Not to mention that the family politics of weddings would be done with.

So, if you’re married and you write for a living and you know what you want to be when you grow up; watch your back! I’m after your life.

Thanks so much for reading you guys! It really does mean the world to me!


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Being Busy

Can I tell you something? I hate being busy. I hate not having time to myself. I genuinely like being on my own, don’t feel sorry for me because I mean it. I really mean it. I feel like our society tells us that it’s good to be busy, being busy is the thing do be doing, it doesn’t really matter what you’re busy with. I was out with friends recently, one of them said ‘oh I’m so busy, I’ve got this and that to do.’ Another friend chirped in ‘I’ve got this and that an the other to do.’ I said ‘oh actually I’m not very busy at all this week.’ And it was like a shock to them. Like I’d admitted that I’d intentionally bought the wrong shoes (or something). It got me to wondering what is it with our generation’s preoccupation with business?

Here are three reasons, I think, we like to be busy.

Being busy protect us from having to invest in real relationships.
If we’re constantly going from social situation to another, spreading ourselves thinly it means that no one knows us that well. It means that we get to spend a little bit of time with a lot of people. I personally don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be. We see this in the life of Jesus, he spent his days with 12 others, sure he had other acquaintances but these 12 were really the people he spent time with. Even beyond that, he had a smaller circle within the disciples whom he was closer to. That, for me, speaks volumes.

Guys, please choose wisely who you spend your quality time with, it is important. If you want to be known and to know people the way to do it is to spend time, good time, with people, and unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day. If however, you want to remain an enigma, carry on, being busy, not being known, but I am convinced that the loneliness will catch up with you some day.

It keeps us from considering what’s important.
I know what’s important. Making time to call friends and family who are far, writing, thinking, reading. These things are important to me. So why do I construct ‘business’ in my life to prevent me from doing these things? It’s because these things are the most challenging things in my life, they make me consider who I am and what I’m about, they make me assess myself. That’s the most difficult thing I have to do. So if I’m busy doing other things, it is easy to push these things aside. Even though I know it’s these things that make me who I am. Sometimes, I don’t want to be who I am.

It makes us feel important.
If you’ve always got something to do, it makes you feel important. It’s pretty simple really. We fill our time with things that aren’t important in order to make us feel important. We do it subconsciously. Often it not to make us look important to those around us, it’s simply that if we look in our diary’s and see that they’re full we feel popular.

So, that was Sarah McCarten’s guide to being busy. Please don’t for a minute think that I want you all to live like a hermit, I think it’s important to be doing stuff, I just think we need to think about the stuff we’re doing!

Thanks so much for readin]g! It really does mean a lot to me!

Please note that I found this picture/quote after I wrote this blog – just saying!


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A few thoughts about friendship.

I wanted to write about friends. I wanted to tell you about some of the best friends I know. They may not be my best friends, although many of them are, they are simply good people who are good at being friends.

If you’re reading this and you’re my friend, please don’t think this is guide to loving Sarah better, there are plenty of things that make a good friend. Personally, I make an effort not to fake friendship and so if you and I are friends the chances are that I really do like you! This is a reminder to myself as well as to you about how we can make life a little bit lovelier for each other.

They make you feel at home.

I love it when I feel at home. When I go home to my parents I feel like that, but there are not many other places where I feel like that. Some of my friends though, have perfected the art of making me feel at home. I can’t put my finger on what makes me feel at home. I think it has something to do with the fact that they have things that I’ve bought or made for them around their homes, or that my name is on their to pray for board, or that they have my photograph hanging on their wall. I like that I am part of it.

It definitely has something to do with not feeling like an inconvenience to be there. That I can help with the kids reading, or make myself a cup of tea without asking. It also has something to do with the effort my friends make to welcome me, so not that I just turn up and I fit into their family life, but that I turn up and their routine has to change a bit, but they don’t mind because they want me to feel at home there.

Then there are those other wonderful friends who have the gift of making people feel at home at places other than their own home, that might be at a home group they attend or at church or anywhere really. Those people, I think, are brilliant.

They criticise you for your sake.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a chat with various friends about what they’re doing in life really irritates me. Of course, I dress it up in ‘this is to help you’ language, often it isn’t really to do with them, it’s not damaging or sinful, it would just make my life marginally nicer if they stopped doing it. It might be that their behaviour is sinful or damaging but, I don’t tell them to be helpful, I tell them because it is pretty damn annoying!

I’ve got a friend who I don’t see very often anymore, but for a time we spent a tonne of time together. I feel like he knows me pretty well and he makes it pretty easy to be honest with him. Every time I see him, I prepare myself for a telling off. And I love him for it. You see, he’s not telling me off because he wants me to be a better friend to him, or because I’m doing something that’s annoying. He tells me off because he genuinely wants me to be a better person, for my sake, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He tells me this stuff honestly and humbly. Some of the stuff he’s heard from our friends, but mostly it’s stuff that I’ve told him about my life and journey, he’s a pretty discerning young man! He’s usually right, and I usually go away feeling good about myself! He’s a brilliant friend! I’d be pretty happy if I got to be as good at being a friend to someone as he is to me one day.

They don’t make excuses for you.

I’m a little quirky, I’m loud, a bit outspoken and I like a bit of controversy; but I’m pretty happy with the person I am these days. If I’m honest I sort of expect my friends to be. There are not many things that I enjoy less than a friend who feels the need to make excuses for me. When I meet their friends or we meet new people they say; ‘that’s Sarah, she might seem a bit [insert aspect of my character that my friend is not so keen on today], but she’s actually an lovely person when you get to know her.’ Errrrr… actually no thank you mate! If you’re happy to be my friend in private, please be proud of me in public. Likewise I shall try not to make excuses for your inconsistent theology, or your preoccupation with the ‘problem with the church’ or your daddy issues, even though you make it very difficult not to!

They understand what is important.

I enjoy naps and spending time alone. In fact if I’ve not had at least one nap and one evening in alone each week I’m not a very happy young lady. I also eat slowly, and I don’t share my food. These things are very important to me. My friends understand this. I love it when I can say to people, I can’t see you tonight, I’m having the evening in. I know they are friends. When I just tell you I’m busy, and I’m actually staying in it is probable that I don’t trust you enough to tell you that I need time alone. You see, my friends understand that this is not selfish behaviour, it is that this makes me, me. The best way I know to be me, is to process, alone! Sorry about that!

I’ve got some friends who process aloud, and they are some of my best friends, I love listening to them, but it took me a long time to realise that they didn’t mean what they said. They were just articulating their thoughts aloud, and that’s alright. I understand that is important to them and I don’t really question them if they change their minds, I’ve sort of come to understand that what they do out loud is what I do when I spend an evening by myself.

I’ve got some friends who value confidentiality, not that they tell me secrets particularly, but they want what we say to remain between us, so for them I try not to relay their stories to our friends before they’ve had a chance to do that themselves. Sometimes I fail because I forget, or I forget how important it is. I’ve got friends for who it is really important to be on time. I try to respect that, and in that show them that I love them and they are valuable to me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Feel free to leave comments about the things you value in your friends. I tweet here. Thanks for reading!


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Some thoughts on taking things slowly… in church.

Can I let you into a secret? Sometimes I struggle in church. Okay, it’s not a secret; anyone who’s chatted with me for more than five minutes knows this.* One of my struggles is the call that the church puts on us to act immediately.

I’m all for spontaneity in life, but I wonder if in church we ought to be a little more considered?

My main worry goes like this; we hear a talk and the preacher asks for a response, it might be for those who are called to the mission field, those who are called to be leaders, those called to put out chairs. Whatever it is, if we sense that this call is for us then we are invited to make a response to this (go to the front/raise a hand/tell a friend/pray a prayer…) If you go to a slightly more charismatic church it may be that a person has a prophecy or a word of knowledge or a picture or a dream from God and people are encouraged to respond in the same way.

I believe that these words of knowledge, teachings, dreams, prophecies and pictures are usually from God and are usually right and good.

But they will still be right and good next week.

Let me offer a specific scenario. A word or a preach is given at church about there being people in the congregation who are called to leadership. The preacher asks for those who feel this sense of calling to identify themselves by going to the front. He doesn’t qualify what this calling is for or what the feeling is.

People go to the front. Some people know they are called to be leaders from previous experience, so they go to the front and are prayed for. This is good. Prayer is good.

My concern is for those who just want to be leaders, or just feel a funny feeling and go for prayer. This can be damaging. They may start to feel validated in a calling that is not really their calling. This is detrimental because, if and when they accept that they are not going to be leaders, they may feel like they haven’t fulfilled their calling, that God has let them down, or that they have messed up so badly that they have missed their calling.

There is another group – those who haven’t felt this call before, and genuinely feel it. They are prayed for and their journey toward being a leader continues. This is good. Prayer is good.

So what am I asking? Well, I’m asking if you wouldn’t mind if we took things a bit slower?

I like prayer and I think prayer is helpful and edifying. So I’d ask if we could pray for people who already know their callings. Could we pray for people in general? Could we pray for words and prophecies for individual people? If possible, could we ask people who feel general words and prophecies to consider them and come back for prayer next week or ask a friend to pray for them later?

Thanks for reading guys. It really means a lot to me. I tweet here.

*I also love the church so don’t worry about me.