I’ve been part of the church for a little while now; five years, 3 months and one day to be exact. From those first exciting days to now, I’ve been on an amazing journey. It’s not been plain sailing in the Caribbean though, more like rowing a boat off the coast of Somalia. Well, maybe not that thrilling… Still, I’ve got a life jacket that’s industry standard and a good Bugsy Malone style foam gun full of the, err, foamy stuff.
When I met the Lord, many of my friends thought I was a bit, how do I put it, ‘doolally’. That was cool, though, I probably would have thought so too. I’d gone from typically wayward university student to proclaimer of Jesus in the space of about 2 weeks (and one memorable day). I’d have probably thought something was slightly a miss had the shoe been on the other foot. However, I was wearing the Jesus sandal in this instance, so I had to face the music.
Some friends found it a bit too much and said their goodbyes completely, some friends closed off, most asked questions, and a few turned back to their faith. Dealing with faltering friendships was probably my first tough challenge as a Christian. I wasn’t the same, my life had been transformed and with that, people didn’t like the new me. But I did, so I guess we just couldn’t see eye to eye anymore.
Then came the decision to move my life from Liverpool to London and work for my new-found church, for free. For a year. Obviously, this had not been my parents plan for my life. They were ultimately supportive of my decision though, which was a huge blessing and massive testament to them. I knew they probably would have rathered I set up paid camp in a reputable journalistic outlet – the sector I had just spent 3 years training to work in!
A year went by and I found myself unemployed. Great.
My faith still strong, and relatively unweathered, I ask God’s Spirit to guide me. Some might have deemed that a bad idea when I ended up in a bright red jacket on the wintry streets of London asking people to give to charity. Yep, I was the annoying person interrupting your shopping on a Wednesday afternoon, with a spiel too quick and convincing for you to say no. However, people did say no. And actually, I learned how many different ways of saying no there are. Most of which I purposed to forget.
Still, nothing is wasted in the Kingdom, and I most certainly was humbled. I think a little slice of my naivety was eaten up during those two and a half weeks, and my arrogance of never being a quitter…
What came next was slightly more attuned to my idea of an answer to prayer. I got a job at Sky Sports working on the rugby. Dream job? Well, yes in the fact that I’d prayed non-stop about it for the best part of year. And no, in that it didn’t sort my life out and I didn’t live out the Hollywood fairytale with it all being happily ever after. This, of course, was my exact anticipation. There goes another slice of my naivety!
Reading this you might be inclined to ask: what went wrong? The answer: nothing really. Four years in, I love my job, it has provided tonnes of opportunity and I’m always learning. What it didn’t provide though, was an end to my aspiration and desire in life. I think sometimes we can fall into the trap of the ‘if I only get this, then all will be dandy forever’ mentality. Well, that’s just not how life works, and I’ve experienced that particular realisation in some of the greatest things I’ve ever received! How ironic hey? Something else I’ve jotted down in the ‘must remember’ folder of my brain.
Well there you have it, a (very) brief overview of my short journey so far. If I tried to list all the other challenges of the last five years, frankly, I would most probably bore you. It’s also not as light-hearted reading for a Saturday afternoon if I detail, for example, intestinal parasites picked up in Thailand, or an operation to remove metal from my jaw, is it? I could conversely list all the amazing things that have happened in my life during the last five years, but maybe I’ll save that for another post.
Anyway, who helps me when parasites strike? The God of all comfort that’s who. It might sound jovial, and obviously, sometimes it is, but from the very first day I realised God was God and that he was worthy to be praised, he’s been my reliable friend. He is the funniest guy I know (seriously, if you didn’t think I was doolally at the start, you have permission to now), he helps me to laugh at myself, he gives me all I need and do you know what? If I was really in a rowboat off the coast of Somalia, I’m confident he’d be in it with me, clutching a boom box, bashing out the tunes!
On New Year’s Eve 2013 I declared that I had made a resolution, and as I write, I am partially fulfilling it. My literary skills in the written form have, for years, been laid dormant. At university I thrived on my ability to write interesting and concise content. I blogged when I left, but life and work pushed my nimble fingertips aside and so sadly, I ceased to type. This is why my resolution for 2014 is to begin a new blog. What I am to focus on I am unsure, but hopefully as I juice my creative citrus fruit of a brain I may publish something of worth.
Having moved to London over 3 years ago, I feel only now that the city is for me. Gladly, I accepted the challenge to get stuck into the nitty gritty of London life and sold my soul to South West Trains. In doing so, I humbly accepted delays and signal failures, but equally was happy to transport myself into the abyss that never sleeps. What kept me sane though, was knowing that God was with me, every day. After all, I met the big man before moving to the city, so felt it was an adventure into God as well the place I was set to dwell.
Over 1000 days on, It’s still a wonderful thing, knowing the guy who made the world; I can’t imagine a smarter, more interesting being than he. As I commute to work he encourages me, and as I carry myself home each night he comforts me. He councils me when my wardrobe is ‘bare’ and soothes me to sleep at night. A best mate? One could not compare.
It takes work growing a friendship though, plain sailing never produced loyal shipmates, and he knows that.
I think one of the things I’ve learnt thus far on my London adventure is that God likes me to be real. Some of my closest friends will agree that I’m good at being honest. To those whom I trust I am pretty much exactly myself; I am how I was created. These friends I can relate to, and as we know each other better, we better communicate. It is the same with God, well, somewhat at least.
I know there have been times when not knowing a character trait of God has caused me to fail, burn out, trip up, worry needlessly, the list goes on! But, each time I go through a hard time, miss the last train home, find myself homeless, needy of pennies, I am never disappointed by what I learn about my heavenly father. If that plain sailing ship was happily sat on autopilot without an iceberg in sight, I’d argue that the sailors would get bored, feel unstimulated and be left frustrated. The captain and his trustee workers would find no need to communicate: friendships would become shallow & fragmented.
What London, work, church and life have taught me is that with trials, are borne meaningful relationships, trust, and respect. I’ve had my share over the last few years and through them I’ve made, and deepened, some pretty great friendships. I’m blessed to know some rather genuine, eccentric, generous, gentle, sensitive, loyal and down right hilarious people, and what’s best is…I know the one who created them all!
A fumble through a first blog, a generous helping of grammatical errors and hopefully an insight into why I can be (or attempt to be) content in whatever situation. I know the God who strengthens me.