You never know who you really are until you get married! With all my heart, when I accepted Eric's proposal, I wanted to be a great wife! I didn't know that I wouldn't be and that I still had so much 'stuff' inside of me that needed working out. After all that God had done in my life, I was sure I was okay as a person and had a lot to offer my husband. Well I did offer him a lot! But not the good stuff I had hoped for. He had to put up with a lot of my crap! Sorry there is no nice way of saying it. But that is a whole other story and I am pleased to report that 12 years on I am a much better wife :)
After about 7 months of marriage Eric managed to find a good job out in Cheltenham. We had never heard of this place before and it seemed a whole other world compared to London. After a visit and finding a lovely home we moved. Many of our church friends came over to our London home for a leaving party and since we were already packed up and ready to move the next day they all helped us pack the van too! One amazing friend even offered to drive with us so that she could help drive the removal van back to London for us. We were so blessed with amazing church friends but also found it easy to leave our church. Little did we know what lay ahead and how limited our options would be on the church front.
Almost as soon as we were unpacked we began looking for our new church. The big scary question was how do you find a suitable church? It's not that any church is better than the others but I suppose you do need to find a place that you would be comfortable and could call home. In theory any church should be fine as long as they believe that Jesus is the son of God and came to earth to die for us so we can be reconciled to him. It is not quite like that in reality though. You 'shop' for a church that has a worship style that you enjoy, you check out that you agree with the preaching and even read the statement of faith and see who they are affiliated with to make sure that it's a church that you would deem healthy. We checked out several church websites, disregarded two churches as they had women ministers (why I don't know) and finally settled on a church for two reasons; 1) It was a Vineyard church and we were familiar with that movement, 2) the photo of the pastors on the website looked really happy. Of course we prayed too and asked God for guidance too, we wanted to be where He wanted us to be but didn't get any specific instructions from him.
That was it - we had chosen our church and were keen to settle down rather than visit lots of churches. We got stuck in right away, joined a home group, Eric joined the band and I got stuck into serving the coffee just as I had done at our previous church in London. It was a very small church and we were not used to this as our previous church had about 3,000 people in. It took time to adjust and we did our best to be a part of the church's journey. For some reason we just couldn't settle into church life. On our way back from a holiday in South Wales we visited a church just for fun and fell in love with it! Eric and I both said that it felt like home and knew that it was what we were sadly missing. Even though we tried our best to be good members of the Cheltenham church we just knew that we would never be happy so left and joined our church in Wales.
Every Sunday was a highlight! Even though it took about one hour each way we always thought it was worth the journey. No church in Cheltenham could ever compare to the awesome church that we found in South Wales. It was a bigger church and more like the church we were used to back in London. In time Eric joined the band so we were travelling to church twice a week and then we also joined a home group so were travelling three times a week. At some points when we had team meetings, as we had also joined the Welcome Team, and then we travelled four times a week! I became pregnant and so was too tired to travel back and forth twice on a Sunday for both services so we had a nap in the car in between services so that we could attend both. I remember how much we loved church. There was nothing too big or too small that we could be asked to do to serve our church. During the end days of my pregnancy I remember being so tired that I closed my eyes during all of the worship, not because I was really connecting with God but because I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open! But that didn't stop me from making the journey to church, I love it so much and nothing would keep me away.
Looking back from where I am now, I fear never feeling that way about church again. The way I feel today is so far from how I once felt. Can I ever get back to that place I wonder? I guess with God nothing is impossible.