Names have been changed to protect privacy
The next significant chapter in my life was the birth of my children. The decision to start a family was initially put on hold through being at sea, and then living in limited rented accommodation. Then as the years of anxiety and depression took their toll, I didn’t feel that I could cope with pregnancy and Motherhood. However after 8 years of marriage I began to feel that I wanted children bad enough to go ahead in spite of all my fears. I didn’t feel that I would cope with pregnancy while working at a Geriatric Hospital so made the decision to retire from work first. This I did and became pregnant straight away.
After rededicating my life to Christ at the Billy Graham Crusade I was put in touch with a local church and we were beginning to make Christian friends. Two of the guys at church, Andrew and Tim had the vision to set up a Christian Rehabilitation Centre in the town, and immediately upon hearing that I had given up my job, asked me if I would get involved with them. They had to have a secretary before a charity could be formed. I initially offered them 6 months to get them started in view of the fact that I was pregnant. This 6 months stretched to over 6 years. I became the secretary, a founder member and voluntary worker.
Tim, who has long since died, was a volunteer with the Samaritans and he wanted to do much more for the clients than he was able to do through this very worthwhile charity. So with the help of Andrew and me, a new charity was formed. For 2 years the office for this Christian rehabilitation centre was run from my home and the clients in need of accommodation stayed at Tim’s home. It was during this time that my son and daughter were born.
As time went on and I was able to raise some funds, Tim sold his house and we bought a large house in the centre of the town where Tim and his wife became house parents. We took in people such as drug addicts, unmarried Mothers, ex-prisoners. The criteria for admission to the house, was that we would take in anyone with severe problems who wanted help but also had nowhere to live. Everyone who came knew that there would be a strong Christian influence on their lives. Some of the residents became Christians and others did not but all certainly left having seen the gospel in action. More helpers became involved with us and as funds came in we eventually also took over a small farm in the countryside where more long term residents were taken to stay.
However, in all of this, nobody knew of my inner turmoil, I was a professional at keeping things covered up and I was drugged up to the eye balls on prescribed medication. There were times at home when I was frightened to be left alone, frightened to go out, and on the very worst days Alan was afraid to leave the house. Years later he told me that after driving home he would sit in the car bracing himself for what he would find. I had a few mild accidental overdoses through mixing the wrong foods with my increasing reliance on medication.
Though all this time, Alan who did not profess to be a Christian, came with me to church and involved himself where he could with some of the residents in our centre. He gets on well with people, has a good sense of humour and people easily take to him. On the occasions when we did not have family stay with us at Christmas we would have a resident from the centre spend Christmas day with us.
However I knew that I was not experiencing the reality of what the Bible promised me and along with a friend we became very dissatisfied with what we were experiencing in our church. We began to seek out any meetings where there seemed to be much more life in the Spirit. One night when the family were asleep I began crying out to God and asking Him, “Where are you?” I immediately saw a vision/picture of Jesus dressed in white but He seemed to be hovering out of my reach. I called again and the vision/picture changed to Jesus on the cross with a crown of thorns around his head. Again I wasn’t satisfied and called out, “Where are you now?” I then felt a sudden impact like a physical thump on my chest and heard God reply, “I am right here inside of you”. It was some years before I understood the reality of this but the encounter did give me a renewed sense of peace. God was no longer someone out there and out of reach but a very real presence within me. I knew what I had experienced and nobody could take that away from me.
Another night while praying I found myself speaking in tongues and rejoicing like I never had before and knew that I had been baptized in the Spirit sitting in my own living room. I went back to bed excited and wondering what difference these experiences would make in my life. I was looking for reality and a gospel that would make a difference in people’s lives.
Shortly afterwards I began to realise how crazy and chaotic my life was becoming when I started to black out when I walked upstairs. This happened when I was in our rehabilitation centre one day and through this God started to show me how my life was really no different to the lives of the people I was trying to help. I knew this could not continue so with the renewed spiritual confidence that I was experiencing as a result of my recent encounter with God, I told a few close and trusted co-workers about the reality of my life. I had by now been taking several mind and mood altering medications for 10 years. I could not function without them, I was addicted. My first dose of Librium was taken before I could even get out of bed.
After much prayer together we decided that I would trust God in this and go cold turkey with the drugs. I had no idea what I was about to experience and although I was trusting God to see me through, I could never have managed without the help and support of those close friends that I had confided in. I went through 3 weeks of withdrawal hell. I could hardly get out of bed and would lie there sweating and shaking and trying to understand why my head appeared to be on the ceiling. The pain in my head was excruciating and I couldn’t eat or sleep. One friend came in during the day to look after my children while Alan was at work, another cooked and yet another would come and sit with me during the evenings. My children were used to being with me at the centre so they knew and were happy with those helping me. Eventually my symptoms lessened as my body adjusted.
Later when I visited my doctor he was horrified and told me that I could have died going cold turkey without medical supervision. He of course was not taking into account the part that God was playing in this. He did however insist that I take a reduced dose of Valium to give my body time to adjust. I initially took his advice but quickly realised, when side effects kicked in, that this was not helping me and for me the answer was to rely totally on God for the continued healing of my body and emotions.
Not too long after this we began to experience difficulties in our centre. We were becoming well known and more and more professionals were wanting to be involved with the work and local churches were supporting us financially. As nearly always happens in this kind of situation, 2 factions started to emerge. Those that wanted to take the more professional path and those of us who had begun this work as a pure faith venture. We had grown from a founding membership of 3 to a committee of over 30 people. So many changes followed and there were those that were happy to stay and those that felt it was time to move on.
It can be scary stepping out of the familiar but God has His seasons and can be totally trusted to take us on the next step of our journey. He replenishes with more abundance than we could ever ask for. He never lets us down as we trust our life to Him. So a new chapter and a new stage in the journey coming up.