So my journey has been a long one, and if I'm honest, not a nice neat process that's easy to share in a testimony of just a few words.
Firstly I want to say that I'm so grateful that I have found Jesus and through Him I've been able to make sense of all the things that didn't make sense to me before.
At times in my past, especially when I have been at my lowest, I found myself being drawn to church, but I guess the timing wasn't right for me to actually meet the Lord.
The truth is I've spent a lifetime struggling to find where I fit in and a lifetime trying to mend all of the hurts that life inflicts. I've always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
I lived and worked abroad and traveled extensively throughout my adult years. I have such a passion and longing for the sea and have since my early 20's worked on or in one ocean or another. My loved ones call me a mermaid.
However, wherever I was, even when I was in the most beautiful places on the planet, I always felt that something was missing. But I just couldn't put my finger on what it was.
I now see that it was an unconscious search for something bigger than myself, although I didn't realise it at the time. I now realise that it was the Lord calling me to something higher and more meaningful and that He placed that call deep within me before I was born.
The last 10/15 years have been especially painful and hard in my life and as more heartache and sadness came my way, I just couldn't take anymore and I sunk lower and lower and ended up with severe depression. A couple of times in those years, I couldn't even leave my bed.
The confusion and anger escalated as to why all of these things kept happening to me and my loved ones and I tried to self heal. I studied psychological reasons, I tried every new age therapy going. I saw countless counsellors. I hated the world. I had so much pain inside me and would ask out loud at times for it to just stop, as I couldn't take anymore.
I tried everything to try and help myself for why I felt like I did. Obviously nothing really helped, as I didn't understand back then.
At one of my lowest points in 2020, I met Kim in a complete chance encounter. I was volunteering for One Love, which is a homeless shelter in Southend and one day Kim came in and we connected straight away over us both wearing flares. I hadn't met anyone who dressed in flares before and we even got them from the same shop! And as we chatted for hours that morning, it was just amazing, as we realised that we had literally both led the same exact life.
The crazy thing is that the schedule for the homeless shelter got messed up, so Kim wasn't able to come back the next week, as I thought she would. I really liked her and wanted to meet up with her again and I was thinking of going to the woman who runs the shelter and asking her if she could pass my number on to Kim. But amazingly and thankfully Kim called the centre and left her number for me, on exactly the same day I was thinking of giving my number to her. So the Lord definitely wanted us to connect again.
Over the next few months we met up for coffee and chats and I started to see something in her that I wanted; something I didn't understand. I couldn't explain how she was holding up under the grief of losing the man she loved.
As I said I was in a bad place myself and she was just this bright light that had turned up in my world. So questions led to more questions - I asked her so many questions and she was so patient with me! And so kind towards me.
She obviously said she had found the Lord and she was born again and at the beginning I wasn't sure about it all. But she never pushed and she just kept answering all my hundreds of questions, until slowly I began to see it. That doing things God's way was it. That's what she knew and then I wanted it too.
It's a complete reversal of everything life had taught me. All my habitual behaviours were being challenged by the better way of the Lord. And as I begun to apply the word of God, things in me improved. I felt some kind of peace, that I had never had before.
I began to pray more and more and I began to see that the Lord was responding and that He was holding me up through the challenges of my life. More challenges and hurt came my way during this time and still even now, but the difference is that the Lord is there to help and support me. I am no longer doing it alone and trying to fix it all myself. And it is life changing for me.
Around the same time I met Kim, I was looking for a life coach - as I said I was trying everything. I met David, who was a life coach. As time went on and we had our sessions, he told me he was a Christian. At the beginning I didn't want anything to do with it, but as it was with Kim, I started to ask him questions and more questions and he has also been very encouraging throughout my journey.
So I know now that the Lord brought Kim and David into my life and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
There wasn't really a dramatic moment of salvation for me, although I did say yes to Jesus when Mark Greenwood came to the church. But rather I've built a gradual relationship with the Lord that has totally changed my whole outlook.
The first meeting I went to before I started church was a deliverance meeting at a tent revival, so it wasn't the most subtle start to church life. A bit if a shock back then to be honest! But I'm still here and I'm slowly learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
I was baptised in September 2023. This was very important to me and being baptised feels an important part of my journey forward.
I want to especially thank my beautiful daughter and my wonderful partner for supporting me through all of this, and I'd like to thank my church family for their prayers and support.