What do you love about Durham?
I love that you always bump into people you know, the ridiculous amounts of cafes and, of course, our uniquely-Durham night clubs.
What’s your story?
I grew up in a Christian family so have known about Jesus all my life. I knew he loved me but I don’t think I really knew how real He was until I realised how much I needed Him.
In my last year of school I had by far the hardest year of my life. I was Head Girl and also the Headmaster’s daughter (unsurprisingly not a recipe for popularity!). I went from being confident and outgoing, to being flat. Towards the end of the year I faced a lot of rejection, falsely accused of telling my Dad (headmaster) about something some students were planning on doing.
This caused a lot of anger towards me and felt like public humiliation, so I quickly became reclusive. I left school not seeing much point in anything; I broke up with my boyfriend, lost contact with a lot of my friends and didn’t get my grades for University. My closest friends were incredibly loyal through this time and I tried to battle against the hopelessness because I knew that naturally I had always been a joyful, fun person but these feelings just wouldn’t shift in my own strength.
Having not got into Uni, I suddenly had a whole gap year to fill. Somehow I knew I needed God as well as community in my gap year, because the uninterupted times I have given to God had always been the most whole moments of my life. Although that said, my sister almost had to force me to apply for YWAM which is a Christian mission programme in Australia lasting 6 months. I was terrified to give up the one security in my life – my family.
However, I had the most incredible and transformative 6 months of my life because I encountered the love of Jesus. I learnt what it looks like to let go of control of my life, and let Jesus transform the way I see myself and see others. He is the security in my life and there is nowhere I can go or nothing I can do to separate myself from him. I made the most amazing friends that will last a lifetime. I learnt what it means to be vulnerable and to trust people and trust God. God has created all of us uniquely and with that knowledge I have let go of so much fear and anxiety. I have realised that although life inevitably has its tough times, God is so much bigger and he brings us hope.
With this perspective I no longer feel defined by my achievements or confined by fear of the unknown. I know that what’s important is who I am and who God is. I thought I had hit rock bottom because my plans hadn’t worked out but God turned what I thought was the worst situation into the best possible situation. Trusting God is scary but it’s the most fulfilling and freeing decision I have ever made.