Sunday, 13 May 2012

Finding My Passion

I never knew what I wanted to do, what I was good at or where I fitted in. I was certain what I wasn't good at and certain where I didn't fit in though. I knew that I would never be musical, I would never master an instrument in a way that could move people to worship, I would never be able to bring tears to people's eyes when I sang (well maybe I can do that, but not for the right reasons!) and I am still pretty sure that I don't get on that well with little kids. In terms of serving in the church I felt this ruled me out of pretty much everything. Lots of my friends played in the worship band, or served in the children's work at my church. For so long I prayed to God and asked him to show me something, anything that I could do. I was desperate to serve him and desperate to have some kind of obvious talent. For me, all that was evident was that I had none. I thought that this ruled me out of serving all together, I thought that this meant there was nothing I could do. I would just continue to worship and continue to watch everyone else's gifts grow, while I looked on enviously.

I think that it wasn't until I got my GCSE results a couple of years ago that I really began to notice where my strengths lay: 2 of my 3 A*s were in French and German...they were easily my best subjects and something I took to quite naturally. For some mad reason, after not really having considered it before, I chose to carry on with French at college and do it at A Level. At the same time this was happening, it was towards the end of my first year of college that I began to realise that I loved it. It was one of my favourite subjects (mainly because year 1 was easy) and so I applied to study it at degree level. Most of my friends thought (still think) I was insane, and I am still not sure how I came to this decision. I think truthfully, the thought of spending 3 years specialising in any of my other a level subjects sickened me slightly... French was the only idea I wasn't repulsed by!

At the same time, I was chosen to be a co leader of the college Christian Union. This was a terrifying idea to me, as I'd never led anything before and was still all too aware of the fact that I was a new Christian. I did it though with the help of my wonderful co leader and a great bunch of people within the CU. I grew in God so much during that year, and I loved it. I loved having discussions on passages from the bible, and I loved that I maybe finally serving others in their relationship with God. While there were a few hiccups along the way, I learnt so much and am forever thankful for the privilege of being able to help others in their walk with God through college. 

I also co-led a lifegroup with one of my good friends in the youth in the same year. When my youth leader approached me I was shocked. Again I felt that I, as a new Christian didn't have a lot to give and I definitely wasn't sure that I was cut out for leading a group of people (many of whom who had been in the church longer than me) who were all at different points in their walk with God. But again, God showed me the deepest depths of his love and I met some of the most amazing people through that year. I pray that they keep growing in faith and that God will be with them in all they do. 

Last year at church, the leaders spoke a lot on the subject of international mission and being a "global community". Their aim was to become a church with several nationalities in one place, a place where no matter who you were you could go there, but also they wanted to be a place which equipped its people to go out and take the gospel to those who do not know the hope it brings. Every time I heard this talk I felt like it was aimed at me. I felt that something was saying "It's you. This is for you." I was scared, but crazy excited too. I could finally use what I had discovered a passion for to bring a hope to others and to glorify God. I was finally beginning to realise that I had been given a gift too, and just because it wasn't immediately apparent it doesn't mean that God doesn't have a plan for me. So here I am, 3 years into my walk with God and preparing to go on the biggest adventure yet: a trip to Europe with others who share a passion for the nations, and learning more about what it means to "plant a church" and to be a Christian in another culture. And this is just the beginning. I cannot wait to see the awesome things God has yet to do.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Learning Curves

I have finished my first year of university. All of my exams are now over and I am just waiting (nervously) for my results. To say that the last 8 months have been a learning curve would be an understatement. I have loved this year, and despite the ups and downs, it has been an amazing experience. I have learnt some valuable lessons which I thought I would share. Enjoy.

1 - My faith is most definitely a relationship with a mighty and living God. I didn't know before I came to university whether this was the case because I had never had to confront things which I felt could truly test my relationship with God. He has always come through for me and I have spent the last 8 months falling in love with Him all over again.

2 - Being drunk can be both great fun and a real pain. I discovered this fairly early on really. If I had a good night then I was loud, happy, smiley, and able to spend the whole time dancing with my friends. But, if I have things which I haven't talked about whilst sober and I drink too much, and the subject is brought up, you see the emotional, angry and upset me (more people than I'd have liked have seen that side of me). It can turn a whole situation into a complete mess in a very short space of time, and is in no way a good solution to a problem...but sometimes it is a good night and a great laugh.

3 - In the words of one of my lecturers "Being able to bullshit is an essential life skill." Not reassuring words to hear in the first term... but since doing a module this term which I still do not really understand, I can completely see his point. I just responded to essay questions with lecture material and extra reading without ever understanding the subject... so yes, in that case I was using long words to explain things I didn't understand to make me look smarter.

4 - Friends, Food and Family. These things seem to have taken on a whole new meaning at university. I feel closer to my parents than I ever have and I think it's because I appreciate their care and the things I took for granted at home so much more here, because I don't have them. Those days which just go so badly and all I want is a home cooked meal and a big hug from my parents. This is also where friends have taken on a new meaning. Never did I stay up until 3 or 4 am having amazing conversations with my close friends at home, and never could I just ring them at midnight and ask if I could pop round, until I came to uni. These things have happened so often here and some of my best nights have been spent curled up with a cup of tea, talking with my friends into the small hours. And food. Well, that has changed a lot too. I have a huge love for home cooking, and the excitement that comes with the mere mention of free food is probably ridiculous to outsiders, but believe me, here it is like gold dust. I would say the phrase "If there's free food I am there!" is one I have heard (and used) too many times to count this year!

5 - Live a little. I used to be scared of everything. I am not exactly a happy go lucky person who just chills out and "goes with the flow" but since starting uni I've learnt to relax and just take a chance. You only live once, and this attitude has given me a healthy appetite for a little fun and adventure. So here I am, living a little. Yes sometimes it ends badly, but mostly it just makes for a good story and we'll be laughing about it a few weeks down the line!

Thanks for a great first year of uni... and if you haven't been bored by my ramblings then I am glad. If you have then thank you for reading this far!


Thursday, 3 May 2012

You inspired me...

Teachers. Everyone has or has had them, good ones, bad ones, and occasionally those exceptional ones who come around once in a blue moon. Those teachers who give you a passion for something, who feed an enthusiasm and make you feel like you can do anything. The ones who seem to be the perfect mix of fierce energy and kind words. Well, for me, Miss Fermor was one of those teachers.

She taught me history. It was evident just from her energy that she loved the subject, and it came across in how she taught it. She was always thinking of new ways to spark an interest in the subject, from "Newspapers" about the trenches in World War One, to plays about the plague of London. She was patient with me when I was confused, and she laughed with us (sometimes at us) when we joked around, but when it came down to the serious work, she was always there, making me strive to do better. She praised me where it was appropriate and gave encouragement when it was needed. But most of all she taught me respect. She didn't patronise and  yet she didn't let us walk all over her. She knew how to laugh with us (remember that muck up day when her and Miss Reid were in the common room laughing at all the other teachers being water bombed?!), but she also knew where to draw the line. She was someone who made me believe I was capable of anything. She was a teacher who made me want to try, even when I didn't see the point.

Not only this, but Miss Fermor was there for me when things were difficult. She was an understanding voice and a real strength for me. She was strong but without being aggressive, and gentle without being weak.

When I found out she had cancer I was devastated. I will never understand why it had to take her from us so young. I think she probably never knew how many people loved and respected her. Many of my friends' Facebook statuses have paid tribute to her and this is just my way of saying thank you. Moira House was lucky to have her,  and I feel very privileged to have known her, and to have been taught by her.

Miss Fermor you were amazing. A gifted teacher and generous person who inspired me to aim high. You will always be remembered and you are already sorely missed.