When one door closes...
This is my first post in a while and there’s so much to say.
First, I no longer live in Islington. After four short years of living, worshipping, serving and working in Finsbury Park, It all so quickly is somewhere I no longer call home. North London holds so many dear friends of mine, as well as some of my happiest memories, not least, getting married there.
Second, I am no longer a secondary school teacher. After seven (slightly longer!) years of working for schools as a Drama teacher, an English teacher, a Religious Studies teacher, a Form Tutor, Lead Teacher of an Alternative Provision and other less official roles alongside it all, I am no longer a secondary school teacher. Starting teaching at just turned 22 means that I owe the experience a lot. A lot of my growing up, a lot of lessons learned, a lot of character building and, not least, a lot of connections made with some incredible people, staff and students alike.
Both of these facts mean there’s evidently been some big changes in my life. So big in fact, that I’m only just catching up with them myself. So first? Home. Home is now Hounslow, West London. (I was born and raised in Croydon, South London and have been living in Finsbury Park, North London for the past four years, now West! Looks like East London is next…) After being a resident for only just over a week, I can already tell that Hounslow is a wonderful place. Vibrant, multi-cultural and real. Somewhere I’m looking forward to exploring and getting to know. The main reason that home is now Hounslow, is because as of September 2015, James and I will now also be working in Hounslow, on the same staff team.
It all started with a conversation I had with some dear friends of ours about ten months ago. We were visiting their house for dinner. Sitting round the lively table, I was asked, “Nay, what do you see yourself dong with your life in the future?” It was then that I realised that I’d stopped thinking about my future in anything other than schools for a good while. Despite teaching not being the dream when I started it, six years had cemented it as my reality and so I’d decided to go with it, however despondently. In fact, this time a year ago I was considering applying for a PhD in the alternative education world. I had begun speaking to friends who had taken that route about how I might go about joining them. “If schools are where God wants me, I better get really good at being in them” was my thinking. So this dinner table question floored me, to be honest. Those of you who have known me for a while will understand that 22 year old me would have answered that I wanted to ‘be in full time ministry’. Yes, anything can be ministry, but 22 year old me meant something where I was explicitly employed to share and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I didn’t know how that would be packaged then, I still didn’t really know how at this dinner table, and I answered with words to that effect with tears in my eyes. Tears because, truth be told, 22 year old me was holding a flameless candle for a dream which 28 year old me had long since let the wind of being ‘sensible and normal’ blow out.
Cut to the beginning of 2015, and the same friends (a vicar and his wife) begun to speak to James and I about whether we’d consider joining their Church staff team. I’ve volunteered for churches for the past ten years and so this was something new. Something which, 22 year old me would have jumped at. James and I were both excited. But we didn’t want to run ahead of God, we didn’t want to just aimlessly follow our friends and we didn’t know whether what they were suggesting was right. So we sought wise counsel, we chatted things through and we prayed a lot. We received confirmation of this being the right move in a huge variety of ways. One of the most interesting was when we were on holiday in Jersey at the start of January. We decided to visit a local church and, at the end of the service, were prayed for by a lovely middle-aged couple. They began to say things about new beginnings in our future and other things which we’d told them nothing about… we started to get excited.
To cut this ever expanding story a little shorter (well done if you’re still reading), we gave the green light to our friends. We told them that we felt it would be the right thing to move if things all worked out their end. It wasn’t as easy as that though. There was funding to raise, the rest of the church leadership to hear out the ideas and much more besides. So we continued to wait, continued to pray and continued to trust that wherever we would end up, God knew where we’d be best, even if we didn’t at the time. But now we know, and now we’re here. As of September 2015, I will be the ‘Director of Interns’ for Holy Trinity Hounslow. Leading a team of amazing, young Christians in Bible study, prayer, personal growth, discipleship and leadership development- an opportunity to watch what God has for their futures open right up in front of us. Teaching them, mentoring them and praying for and with them. I’m still blown away that I get to be a part of leading something which I know will be of huge significance. I know because, aged 21, I partook in a gap year with my old church and it was the most transformational year of my life. It allowed me to birth the sort of dreams which I’m now about to start living. Alongside all of this, I will also be on the same staff team as James. He’ll be serving as Community Pastor, assisting the Vicar in the preaching and teaching of the Church whilst also being an essential link person between church and the surrounding community.
So I’m here, in Hounslow. Slightly exhausted from the move both physically, mentally and emotionally, but mostly just humbled and excited at where He’s brought us. Heavy hearted at leaving yet another group of amazing friends I made in North London. That’s absolutely one of the hardest things about being a bit of a (self-proclaimed) nomad. I meet incredible people (Southampton, Croydon and North London) and then don’t seem to stick around long enough to ‘do life’ with them. Maybe we’ll get a little longer in Hounslow… Here’s to our next chapter. To God be the glory!