I don’t usually post especially personal things on this blog but I think this is worth breaking the rules for … yesterday I was confirmed at church. This was a lovely service and meant a lot to me. Especially as so many people were able to be there to support me. I generally think my faith is my concern and not something to foist on others so i imagine some of my friends were a bit surprised when I invited them but they didn’t let on.
Confirmation is essentially about confirming the promises my parents and godparents made for me as a child and making a public declaration of my faith. Part of the service was to read a testimonial, mine is below and hopefully explains in some way my journey to being confirmed.
I have always believed in God, something bigger than the physical world but maybe I didn’t realise that I had a faith. As a small child I went to church quite regularly, Sunday school and high days and holidays with my mum but at some point we stopped going. Apparently this was because the Sunday school was full of boys and I was the only girl. Oh, the irony that I stopped going to church because there were only boys my age!
I did go back as a Brownie and Guide for church parade. What appeared to be keenness at getting there first had more to do with the promise of carrying the flag than religious fervour (I’ve always enjoyed the lead role in things!)
As a teen and a young adult I was interested in the spiritual side of life, talking to people about their beliefs and reading about different religions. This interest helped me through some difficult times, along with my family and friends, many of whom are here today but church itself always seemed uninviting. It was a place where everyone else knew each other but they didn’t want to know anyone new. It also struck me there was a lot of being told what to think and do. I am not very good at being told what to think and do.
Last year was a year of highs and lows. The lowest point without a doubt having to have two lots of jaw surgery but the highs included coming on the Alpha course with my wonderful friend Claire.
Ever since we met 16 years ago We have spent many nights in the pub discussing religions, where are own feelings drew us and how we could work this out. We have probably looked into and considered whether everything from atheism to becoming a Quaker was what we should try. At the end of the summer Claire’s children came to the summer club here at Southover which is how we found out about Alpha. Claire said everyone seemed lovely at the church and she was right.
I am honoured to have taken this journey with Claire, my dear dear friend, although I do wonder what our teenage selves sitting in the smokers common room at college would make of it! I’ll be honest I was wary about the course, having heard tales of more extreme Alpha courses but this was perfect. Relaxed, open and inspirational. Everybody was free to talk, Steve’s talks were great and I met some lovely people including the Elliots who are here today. There was nothing weird about these classes, in fact they were an extension of Claire and my pub talks but with people who actually knew what they were talking about.
Over the course I began to realise that all the things that were floating around in my head, my beliefs and personal moral code, were in fact a Christian way of life. My faith solidified, the cogs started turning together rather than all spinning separately. There were several moments where I felts blockages fall away, for example the session on faith. I remember a feeling of great release at the end of this session, that yes I could be myself and still be a Christian. That nothing fundamental to the things I believed was about to change, This was also helped by chats with people away from the church especially Catherine and Sarah whose own faith I greatly admire. I realised it wasn’t about rules but faith about believing that Jesus lived, he was Gods son and he died on the cross for our sins. My heart agreed with my head for the first time and i have never felt happier, calmer and more at ease with the world. Along with my faith I have found at Southover a place of community, living out Christian values in a the most inclusive and welcoming way possible. I am being confirmed today because this is about my relationship with god and I wanted to show a commitment, literally confirm it.