There were days when I sat still, head in my hands, as hundreds of people stood around me, hands in the air, shouting praises I couldn’t join in with.
I felt like I was drifting out to sea, and no one even knew, because maybe my head was bowed in prayer. Maybe those tears streaming down my face were because I was so moved by the love of the Father and not because I felt like I was drowning.
No one could save me. And I didn’t want them to.
I was baptised when I was six years old, and I believed as much as (maybe more than) any six-year-old can. But there comes a day when the rubber hits the road, and you’ve got to decide whether your adult-heart believes what your child-heart chose.
I leaned on my parents’ faith, then. And maybe on my own in high school, but it felt less like faith and more like obligation. Not to them. To myself. To Him. To some version of Him I respected but didn’t necessarily like.
And then I met Him – really met Him – when I turned 21 and heard His voice in a back alley in the north of England. No one had given me permission. No one had told me to listen.
I went under when my broken brain convinced me that the odds were that I wouldn’t make it to see my children grow up. I went under when my friend died and she did it so well and with so much faith that it terrified me, because I realised that when you stand at the end, you stand alone. Your parents’ faith won’t save you.
For a year I drifted. And I didn’t say it out loud, because I didn’t want anyone to give me platitudes or tilt their head to the side and squint their eyes in mock understanding. I didn’t want texts asking me if I was okay and calling me “Hon.” I didn’t want worship songs or lofty prayers or Chicken Soup for my Soul.
I just wanted to know.
I wanted the man who told Peter to get out and walk to do the same for me. To pull me out of the depths and put my feet on the water.
And I’ve waited so long.
I’m still waiting. But I’m not drowning.
Because the captain of the ship has tied a rope around my waist. Don’t try to swim, He said. You don’t have to save yourself.
I looked across the sanctuary on Sunday, and saw a few other heads in hands, a few more tear-stained faces, and maybe they’re so moved by the love of the Father. But if they’re not – if they’re waiting like I’m waiting, I have it on good authority that this won’t be held against us.