God began to call me home in my early 20s when all this was still going on – and God called me through music. At this point I had ditched the unsuitable bloke and moved in with my brother in his student flat in South London. I was applying to go back to college – and I got a full-time job in the local pub. I joined the choir at the church my brother and his fiancé went to. The church run by a rather glorious priest called Jeffry John – now Dean of St Albans.
And there were no fireworks. I was simply accepted. My gifts in music were encouraged. I played and sang. And then I went for my lunchtime shift at the pub and told everyone all about it. There’s the evangelism again.
I did go back to college – back to Yorkshire – but didn’t find my own church – I was close to Mirfield – there were occasional visits – and in many ways my destructive behaviours continued.
Then I met my Simon. We decided we liked the look of each other – but neither of us were looking for anything serious. We decided we’d hang out for a while. The catch phrase was a song by Terence Trent Darby – “It’s alright for a season”. That will be 24 years ago – and we’ve been married now for nearly 19 years. Simon likes to tell me “we might be ready to take this thing to the next level now love”.
I graduated – Simon went back to college – and we moved back to sunny Mirfield. I decided to join the church choir for some quality time with my dad – some well-being time you might say. We both sing alto. And there it was again – God’s call back home. Not everyone needs to go home – but I needed to go home to feel safe – to reconnect – and for God to challenge me to something really scary.
I went back to church – the Vicar was Peter Craig Wild, inspired liturgist and encourager, may he rest in peace and rise in glory. I began to pray a lot – about the things that had happened to me in the years before I met Simon. I remember kneeling in the pew I had sat in with my mother since childhood weeping and challenging God – “why do I still feel like this?” – “why don’t you make me feel better?” – “why don’t you forgive me?”
And then there was a moment – it wasn’t the voice of God like Morgan Freeman – but a moment – when I realised I had never said sorry. Never repented. Never really turned my heart back to God acknowledging I might actually have done something wrong – that in making choices that damaged me I had made God not angry with me – but brokenhearted for me. When I owned my responsibility I could suddenly see very clearly that not only had God already poured out his grace and forgiven me – but that God had been trying to open my eyes to all God wanted to do in my life for quite some time. He’d brought me the temporary man I was soon to marry. He’d brought me Simon’s 9 year old daughter who needed all the love and stability I could offer her – a girl who chose to love me – just like that. Love I did not earn but was just offered – what more signs of grace did I need?
To be continued…