Blank sheet

The blank white ‘sheet’ I’ve been staring at on my laptop screen, courtesy of Microsoft Word, is a pretty good metaphor for my life at the moment.

The cursor flashes persistently, prompting me to write something. I guess I must want to write something or I wouldn’t have opened the programme.

A few days ago I’d written something else, you see – a kind of past-to-present narrative which I actually found quite hard to read back. It probably needed to be written so that I could properly process the past twelve months and longer, but where was the hope in it?

It’s more exciting, I think, to start at the present and look forwards.

So, let’s jump right in – I just quit my job, with no job to walk into.

To be a bit pedantic, my contract was coming to an end and I chose, months ago, not to renew it. I guess that’s not quite the same as just quitting, but the result turned out to be the same – a blank sheet.

I like that the Bible uses writing symbolism to describe how God designs our lives – “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). I’m a ‘story’ person. I love the idea that God writes our stories, when we surrender our preconceptions of what we think our lives should look like. Or what other people think our lives should look like.

The joy and wonder that comes with walking out that story is accompanied by questioning and uncertainty and a lot of ‘Why, God?’ There’s definitely been a lot of that during the past two years since leaving university, but whilst I struggled and questioned and walked through various challenges, I was building something here in London; this city I love and loathe in fairly equal measure.

I’m not starting a new book; I’m not upending my life as I have in the past (and I’m thankful for that). It’s just, to fall back on that well-used cliché, a new chapter.

As much as I enjoy story metaphors, I’m also fond of arty ones. Like “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

Maybe it’s because this week I’ve had time to draw and paint again but I just love this. Our very lives are works of art.

Quitting my job was a risk but it gives God room to throw colour all over a blank canvas and lead me into the next chapter (yes, I’m mixing my metaphors now. I can mix if I want to. To my creative-leaning mind, I find it hard to separate words from colour and line).

Is it scary? Heck yes it is. Will I be able to pay my rent next month? That remains to be seen.

God spoke to me recently about throwing me out of the nest, so I’d learn to use the wings I was born with.

(Is this too many metaphors? I do feel a bit like a baby bird or something at the moment though, to be honest).

The point, though, is that if God promises you that you can fly, you’d better believe it.

So here’s to blank sheets.

‘The future of justice’ (or why you should go and see Wonder Woman)

19366262_10155641105202573_3077271469177923374_nSometimes my train to work is cancelled, and I have to get a bus to Brixton to catch the tube.

This happened a couple of weeks ago. As the bus neared my final stop and waited at the last set of traffic lights, I looked out of the window to see Brixton’s Ritzy cinema displaying its latest showing, Wonder Woman. The slogan read:

‘The future of justice begins with her. Wonder Woman is out now.’

I’d already heard someone say that this movie is significant for the body of Christ, so I was already curious. I wouldn’t normally expect a superhero movie to speak into my life, but I was willing to keep an open mind.

My naysayers will laugh, but the Lord has been speaking to me a lot through posters and adverts recently. Which makes my commute 10x more fun!

And if you don’t already know, justice is ‘my thing’. Nothing fuels me like the desire to see justice for the vulnerable, the oppressed, the forgotten and the mistreated. So this advert grabbed my attention.

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly you’ll know I’ve felt like I’ve been in a spiritual warzone for a while now. For about 12 months it seems like I’ve come up against every kind of trial and opposition (and seen others facing the same).

Many times breakthrough has seemed so close in one area or another, and then another hit has come out of left field. The Lord has been so faithful, giving me many words of encouragement and signs of hope. But like any battle, assurance of victory does not stop you from becoming tired.

Yesterday was another hard day and I almost felt like texting my housemate to ask if we could postpone our Wonder Woman date.

Thankfully I didn’t.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, you’re an English graduate! You’re obviously going to find meaning that isn’t there.’

Well, I don’t care whether the symbolism in this film was intentional or not. The Lord certainly doesn’t care about that. He’s spoken to me through a poster for a rugby tournament before, so He can do exactly as He wants. And He definitely spoke to me through this movie.

There will be minor spoilers ahead but hopefully not enough to ruin the film for you!

The plot is simple – Diana, a goddess raised on an island of Amazon warrior women, encounters mankind one day by chance, and realises her destiny is to save them from a terrible war. As the story progresses she eventually realises that saving mankind is more complicated than she had anticipated, because man is intrinsically capable of evil.

Her adversary mocks her during one of the climactic scenes, telling her that these people don’t deserve saving. But she responds with the familiar message that love triumphs over evil. Grace.

The gospel message here would be hard for the least imaginative Christian not to grasp, yet this wasn’t what struck me most.

It was the warfare symbolism that jumped out at me. It was like Ephesians 6:10-20 brought to life.

As Diana is training for battle with her fellow Amazons at the start of the film, she loses her focus for a moment, is caught off guard and knocked to the ground.

Her trainer yells: ‘Never let your guard down! You expect the battle to be fair! The battle will never be fair!’

It almost felt like this Amazon queen was yelling at me. Tired from contending for the same things over and over, I’ve let my guard down at times, and it’s always when I do this that I get knocked down.

Then, to go into battle, Diana needs to be not only fully trained but fully armed. She is given a sword and told this is the weapon that will defeat the villain. I immediately thought of the ‘sword of the Spirit’ – the Word of God.

Diana also possesses a kind of whip, which when lassoed around any opponent will force them to tell the truth. Not far off from Ephesians 6:14’s ‘belt of truth’, right?

Later, a battle scene unfolds where Diana, helping the British in the fight against the Nazis, steps out onto ‘No Man’s Land.’ She is told that this ground is impossible to win; that for a year they have taken mere inches. They tell her it is futile to attempt it.

But fully dressed in armour, she steps confidently onto the battlefield. The gunfire begins immediately, and she runs forward, deflecting bullets from every side. Eventually the fire becomes so intense that she is forced to a halt, bullets raining on the shield that she is holding out in front of her. It is all she can do to stand her ground.

To me, this could not more clearly be the shield of faith, ‘with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).

And as the enemy’s bullets finally run out and Diana’s comrades join her to take the territory so long unclaimed, Isaiah 54:17 rang loud and clear in my ears: ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper’.

The ground was only taken because she pioneered, enduring the battle so others could be freed. I remembered a promise the Lord had made me; that the trials I and others had been walking through would result in a greater anointing to see other people set free.

I felt God’s presence so strongly watching that scene that I sat back in my seat almost in tears.

In another scene, Diana destroys a tower which is the stronghold of the town, and defeats the enemy inside. After the stronghold is demolished, the town is set free. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says: ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.’

And so the film went on.

I truly believe the messages in this film are needed right now. We live in times of increasing uncertainty. London, my city (and the city Diana travels to first), has for the past few months been a place of tragedy and terror.

We live in times of political instability. We live in times where proclaiming Christ will have you ridiculed and hounded out of public positions. If you don’t believe me, go and watch former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron’s resignation speech.

Women in the body of Christ (well, and men, if you’re reading this), you are needed right now. You have destiny and purpose. You are powerful because the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of you.

You are born to bring hope and clarity to a despairing, directionless world.

You are born to overcome every battle and advance the Kingdom of God –  a Kingdom of justice and of grace.

You are born to love an undeserving world because Jesus loved you when you were undeserving.

Ask God for eyes to see and ears to hear, that you would know more fully who and whose you are.

And go and see the film! Be encouraged by it as I was.

(P.S, fun fact – Gal Gadot, the film’s star, is Israeli, and trained in the Israeli army for two years. I thought this was pretty cool too.)

I have no idea what I’m doing.

I was beginning to wonder whether I ought to go into a period of mourning, lamenting the death of my blogging life – but just when it seemed all inspiration had fled, it was salvaged, so while fresh in my mind I seized it. Carpe blog!
It occurred to me recently that I seem to spend a considerable amount of time in the middle of situations where, to my part-amusement and part-consternation, I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

It’s not entirely clear to me yet why this is. But it’s happened several times over the past few months. In February I attended the Church of England’s General Synod despite hardly ever setting foot inside an Anglican Church. I attended Prayers for Parliament in the House of Commons earlier this month, the very day Theresa May dropped the snap election bombshell, and somehow ended up signing a well-wishing card being passed around for her (if I ever forget that God has a sense of humour, He reminds me through utterly ridiculous scenarios like this).

A week later I wandered wide-eyed into the swanky Guardian offices for an online writing course, creeping in just before the start because I don’t like small talk or awkward conversations about what I do for a living. As I was ushered into the reception area with the other stragglers, looking for the wine table, a woman considerably older than me turned and remarked that it all looked quite intimidating. I made some passing response and smiled assurance at her.

Little did that lady know that I was truly the odd one out in that crowd; if anyone there had known the kinds of things I write about for a living, they probably would have given me the cold shoulder. As much as I enjoyed the evening (as though scripted, at least one person raised their hand to ask a question about Brexit), I couldn’t help but feel like an impostor somewhat out of my depth.

As I write this, I have just finished up some work for the volunteering role I agreed to take on at the start of this year – with an organisation that works with survivors of human trafficking, empowering them to move forward with their lives.

I was familiar with their work through contacts at my church, and for some reason I was thinking about them over Christmas, feeling a heart-tug towards what they do.

I remember when I first really became aware of human trafficking, maybe four or five years ago, and deep down dreamed of somehow, someday, doing something about it. I had pushed the thought away – it was too daunting. What could a girl like me do about something so huge?

Similarly, last Christmas, I pushed any thought of joining the Sophie Hayes Foundation away. I felt unqualified.

But one week later, they came to my church to present their work and called for new volunteers. (Yes, sometimes God really is that obvious. It was like He was saying ‘Camilla if you don’t go to them I’ll make sure they come to you!’) So I said yes.

The gnawing whispers of inadequacy persisted at first. Attending a couple of the training sessions for working alongside the rescued women, I struggled through almost debilitating feelings of anxiety and incompetence. It was only a deep conviction of truth that I did not feel, that propelled me forwards.

Looking back after only six weeks or so, those feelings are so alien to me but I know where they stemmed from. They stemmed from the lie that I am not good enough and that I don’t have much to offer.

Praise God that I recognised this quickly. When I joined the organisation I was feeling disempowered. The Sophie Hayes Foundation seeks to empower. I knew that to feel empowered again, I didn’t need a self-help manual or to browse some inspiring quotes on Instagram. I needed to trust God above my feelings, and I needed to go and empower other people.

As time passes I’m beginning to see how well-equipped I really am to take on these challenges; how things I have done before, my God-given empathy and big-picture thinking are gifts that I can bring to the table. And as I’m dreaming and planning with this amazing team, I’m feeling so alive!

There’s nothing like finding a place where you feel like a puzzle piece that not only fits but is harmonious with the rest of the puzzle. The team makes this easy, though. They are well-versed in bringing out the best in each individual; in seeing value. It’s what they do.
This has been a season of allowing God to show me who I am; to replace lies with truth and fear with joy.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing.

But I’m getting comfortable swimming out of my depth. Rather than feeling anxious, I can simply laugh at the strange situations I end up in, and appreciate the adventure God is taking me on. In every area of my life He’s been calling me higher and deeper.

I am more convinced than ever, as confirmation rings out everywhere I turn, that this is the year of incredible victory. (By the way, hasn’t this Spring been especially stunning? Maybe it’s just because I work in walking distance of Regent’s Park but my goodness the flowers this year… so much life and beauty and promise!)

The testimonies are going to be good! I can’t wait to report back.

Thanks for laughing with me.

‘Put your dancing shoes on’

In my last post, I talked about my very real experience of spiritual warfare throughout most of 2016.

This is a continuation of that story, but it’s a more hopeful chapter.

While I rested at my parents’ home over the Christmas break, the Lord spoke to me a bit about 2017, promising a year that would see some victories; a year for me to watch Him do something amazing.

And then he told me something strange: “Camilla,” He said, “I want you to go into the New Year jubilant and celebrating. Put your dancing shoes on… dance with me into 2017.”

I promise you that dancing or celebrating in any way was the last thing I felt like doing at the time. So I didn’t, at first.

I said to God that I didn’t feel like it, but He told me that that is the whole point of faith: to push past what is seen into what is unseen; to trust God’s promises and not my own feelings.

So on January 2 I got back to London, turned on a worship set, and danced like a crazy person in my living room. And as I did so, I felt the joy of the Lord fill me head to toe and I could feel the truth of His words.

I went back to work the next day and got back into my usual routine. Naively, I imagined that all the spiritual warfare in my life would cease from now on and that I would simply cruise along for a while.

It didn’t. In fact it escalated (as it did for some of my friends), and I realised that God was not simply going to halt the onslaught of attacks coming at me. He was simply going to teach me how to equip myself to overcome them.

Because interspersed with these moments of feeling knocked around, I’ve seen so much hope and encouragement. Since the start of the year I’ve been seeing everywhere that this will be a ‘year of breakthrough’ and a ‘year of restoration’. This has been confirmed from different Christian leaders and I am standing on those promises for myself and for the people close to me.

One person I am close to was diagnosed with myeloma (bone marrow cancer) in December, and in the natural realm it looks bad. But God has given me people who will believe with me for her complete healing. We fast, we pray, we thank God and we contend. We declare the Word of God over her situation over and over.

Several people have tried to sow seeds of doubt over her healing, most likely completely unaware of the impact their words could have had. If I wasn’t so keenly aware of how I am stood in the middle of a spiritual warzone, I might have let it throw me, discourage me and cause me to give up.

But to be honest, (and I don’t mean to sound flippant), I’m used to this now. And my Father in His overwhelming goodness keeps sending us reminders that we are doing the right thing. He has used church sermons, family members and friends, even the internet, to remind us of His nature and His will for healing; he has used visions and dreams to spur us on to a greater level of faith than I at least thought I was capable of.

So I shake off the negativity and the doubt. God’s Word tells us to ask and not doubt.

The fight continues in other aspects of my life and the lives of those around me. From small and subtle manoeuvres, to bold lies, false prophecies and attacks of physical sickness and emotional heaviness, I have seen the enemy try repeatedly to halt what God is doing and where He is taking us, and over the past month or so I have had to pray like never before.

I have also noticed that sometimes, the more I pray into these situations, the more opposition I seem to face. But in one of the primary areas I am struggling in, God has led me to discover more about what exactly I am up against. What once seemed vague is now specific – and this is a huge step forward. The first step to overcoming a battle is to identify your enemy. (Just to be clear – this is not about fighting with people. Ephesians 6:12 –  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”).

My Father is showing me how to see through His eyes. I asked Him one night why, if this is supposed to be a year of victory, things seem worse than ever.

He replied, gently: “Camilla, you can’t expect to see big victories over small battles.”

Again and again, He reminds me not to give my wavering emotions any weight but to trust Him when He says that things are better than I think they are. Because He has an aerial view; He sees it all.

I am currently visiting my parents, so I went back to my old church this morning. Amazingly, the sermon and the worship were all about spiritual warfare.

There is something so comforting and so powerful about seeing the impact of the Lord’s perfect timing. To know how deeply He cares… to know that He would use people I rarely see anymore to speak into my situations and pray with me. He is eternally good, endlessly kind, mighty to save, my rock and defender and shield.

He has been close to me in such a tangible way during this time, and He has used the months of pressure to draw me to Himself and mould my heart. And I don’t know about you, but I am so stoked about this year.

If you know God and can relate to anything I’ve written about, I want to encourage you – don’t give in to fear. Don’t accept defeat, or imagine that feeling low, heavy or constantly knocked down is how your Heavenly Father wants you to live. It’s not.

You are a child of God, and greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. If you are serious about running after God, you will come under greater opposition, but you were designed to overcome. You were born to kick the devil’s butt and stomp on hell every single day.

And that’s pretty cool.

Take up your sword again

Just to give a little context to this: A lot of good has happened this year and I recognise that my life is full and it is blessed. That being said, spiritual warfare is very real and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it so constantly as I have this year. In a way that’s really encouraging because the enemy doesn’t attack you unless you’re a threat to him. But it has still been quite painful and quite frustrating. So, here’s a little honesty, and a little hope. Happy New Year.

Get knocked down, lie curled in a ball as the pain comes in waves, wait until the breath comes back into your lungs, climb unsteadily back onto your feet.

Take a deep breath, run forward again, win some ground.

Sooner or later another blow comes and once more pain takes over for a little while. 

Put on your brave face because it’s just not convenient to break down.

You see, this is what the enemy of your soul does. He plays his game until in no aspect of life is security to be found.

He disturbs the peace of the mundane, wreaks havoc on the home, worms his way into relationships. He jeers at your disappointments. He tells you that the suffering of those you love is your burden to bear. You feel exhausted. Your mind feels clouded, your whole being under a lead weight. Sick and tired, like you’re being very slowly poisoned. 

And when your defences are down he hisses in your ear: ‘Who are you anyway?’

He tells you you’re not enough. Too much.

But you are not blinded to the truth: he is a destroyer of all that is good and a stealer of joy. He’s a worthless Liar.

So through all this bruising you look towards the One in whom your hope is found. You give thanks that in Christ alone is peace and security to be had. You give thanks that He has promised you victory. 

The perceptive ones around you threaten to shatter your fragile mask, and sometimes you wish you were unreadable, inscrutable. But in truth, without those people, you’d feel a little lost. So you embrace the vulnerability because healing is found there.

You retreat; but not to run away, never that. You find refuge in Him and in the midst of some difficult questions, you turn once more to seek His face. He reminds you that you were not designed to walk into battle unarmed. Nor partially armed. And your armour, He reminds you, is never to be anger, pride, or anything to do with you at all. It is found in Him alone, and your weapon is His Word. His battle, not yours. 

He is gentle, never condemning. He stretches out His arm and grabs you by the hand and pulls you back onto your feet. He wipes the dirt from your face and pushes the hair out of your eyes. 

Clothe yourself in all that He is and call all that seems dead inside you to come alive. Take up your sword again. Go forth.

Faithful you are

It’s been a long time since I blogged and I’ve missed it. So on my day off in lieu I am writing this sitting in a cosy London café, enjoying the jazz music and the clink of cups and the hum of conversation. In my line of vision sits a man with large round glasses and a superfluous scarf, a pile of books artfully placed beside him on the table. One of them, I kid you not, is titled ‘Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered’.

I’m still working in Central London, commuter life never ceases to be awful (especially when you are dependent on Southern rail), everything is over-priced and in true adult-ing fashion I spend a considerable amount of time wondering why council tax is so expensive.

Thankfully my flatmate and I don’t take life (or ourselves) too seriously, for God has equipped us both with a good dose of sarcastic humour with which to approach most of life’s grievances. In fact, there are rumours that we may start a blog so that together we can air our satirical views of the world. Watch this space (or, you know, don’t. We’d probably be our only readership).

Anyway, since I last blogged, I have moved into a new flat (with the same flatmate as before), and I am so grateful for the space and to be living with her. The whole process has been quite long and difficult but now that things are beginning to settle down, we’re starting to enjoy it.

I mentioned in my last post that in the previous house we lived in, we were robbed. In broad daylight, while we were out at Healing on the Streets, some poor souls broke into our landlord’s home, donned a pair of Marigolds and left with the few valuables we had.

It was interesting timing because right after Healing on the Streets, she and I had stopped for coffee before going home, and for the first time, we discussed the prospect of moving into a new place together in September. Her plan to move to a flat with other friends had fallen through, so we chatted about looking for a two-bed and got pretty excited, because it turned out we also had similar ideas about what we could potentially do to bless the community.

Then, still buzzing from all this potential, we returned to the house we were lodgers in, to find ourselves robbed.

I’ve come under spiritual attack several times over the past couple of years so for me it was pretty clear that this was an attempt from the enemy to deter us from what we wanted to do. Thankfully, I know that the enemy attacks where he sees something good. So all it did was make me completely determined to push ahead with the plan, unless God closed the door.

Through God’s provision (deposits are very expensive things) and a step of faith, we ended up signing a contract for a two-bed place not far from our previous home.

You may not be surprised to learn that the challenges didn’t end there. Aside from having to spend quite a lot of money on buying things for the flat, only a couple of weeks into living in our new place, we then discovered we had a mouse problem. We were both taken aback, as it’s a newish and a nice flat, but it turned out the whole building was infested because the guards over the vents were all broken. We were even seeing mice in our bedrooms and hearing them at night, which doesn’t make for sound sleep. We put down various assortments of traps, bought sonogram devices, tried to keep the flat extra clean, but nothing worked. Cue my poor flatmate making countless phone calls and sending many emails while I was at work, trying to get the problem dealt with. It wasn’t until about six weeks into Mousegate 2016 that the building managers finally agreed to get pest control in, by which time my flatmate’s parents had spent a whole weekend ‘mouse-proofing’ the whole flat and sealing up every possible hole. (Did you know that mice can squeeze through gaps as small as a pencil? I didn’t until I moved into this place).

It seems her parents’ heroic efforts were largely successful as I haven’t seen a mouse since, and I’m starting to relax a little about the situation. But I look back and see how much added stress it brought on top of the move itself, and various other life situations happening at the same time for both of us. It definitely seems that once again, we came under attack, and the situation could have led to us falling out – even, potentially, moving out. But we didn’t and we haven’t, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

I have also written a few ‘risky’ things for work in the last several months, and in this too I feel some opposition as the enemy would, I’m sure, prefer me to remain silent. But the Lord will have His way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share what He lays on my heart.

To speak more generally, over the past year I have begun to experience more of God revealing things to me about various situations around me, and it’s both a blessing and at times, a burden. I feel the weight of responsibility that comes with discernment, as I sometimes see what I almost wish I could not see, and feel powerless to do a thing except pray. I have felt a lot of others’ pain (empathy is a nuisance sometimes) and often felt overwhelmed and out of my depth.

At points I have felt completely stuck. I’ve become quite useless recently at keeping in touch with old friends (if you’re one of them and you’re reading this, I haven’t forgotten you!)

And yet, I look back over this slightly crazy year and I don’t regret any of it. I feel immense gratitude for how God has shaken up my life and placed my foundations solely on Him and His faithfulness. My mum, always amazingly patient, reminds me constantly that what I experience, God will use to strengthen me and refine me. What the enemy means for harm, God will use for good, and the plans He has for me are so much bigger than what I can see at this moment.

So, I am thankful. Thankful for the many, many blessings the Lord has poured out over me amidst all the trials. (‘You spread a table before me in the presence of my enemies’…) Thankful for an incredible church with amazing pastors who love me like a daughter, and a homegroup who have surrounded me with love, prayer and good food. Thankful for laughter. Thankful for how God is teaching me to shake off weights like Autumn leaves, and see beauty in change as the beauty of the turning seasons. Thankful for silver linings.

I hope to return to blogging more regularly soon. Until then, take care.

*Title is from Housefires’ ‘Yes and Amen’.

Confessions of an unlikely ‘Leave’ voter

I’ve been playing with the idea of writing this for the last two months, during which I have been without a laptop. (For those who don’t know, the house I have been living in got broken into one Saturday afternoon, and my housemate and I returned from ‘Healing on the Streets’ to find our few valuables gone). That’s another story – the relevant part for now is that due to an act of great generosity I am now in possession of a laptop once again. Praise God! Blogging can resume.

Nearly two months after Brexit seems a little late to be ruminating on the event, but the run up and aftermath of the referendum taught me several things, which now that I am able, I’d like to share, because it seems the majority of people in my age group voted differently to me, and so far, I have not had the opportunity to talk about it at length.

You will no doubt have surmised from the title that I voted to leave the European Union.

I am 23 years old. I am university-educated, a graduate of a Humanities subject. I live in London.

My mother is German and my father was born on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

According to polling statistics, I am the most unlikely of ‘Leave’ voters.

Several I have spoken to since Brexit have either been surprised to learn that I voted to leave, or they simply assumed that I voted to stay, and expressed their feelings in my presence, oblivious.

On more than one occasion, people’s expression of surprise when I ‘confessed’ my vote has stemmed from the knowledge that my parents are not British. If you too are surprised by my decision on this basis, you should probably read on.

If you voted to Remain, then congratulations, you’re in the majority of my friendship group, and I’m sure that you had as good reasons for voting to stay as I did to leave! This post is not about criticising your choice. But I hope that by sharing my reasons for voting ‘Leave’, I may offer a different perspective and perhaps go some way toward encouraging you.

If you asked me a year ago what I would do if I were given a vote on the EU, I would have said ‘I’d vote to stay’ without hesitation. The idea of leaving the EU would have seemed to me to be tied up in some kind of superiority complex I believed the UK held about the rest of Europe. It would have seemed a foolish move economically as well as a rejection of the UK’s tolerant, hospitable identity. It would have also been a kind of rejection of my own cultural identity – I like to consider myself a ‘cosmopolitan’ and a break from the EU would be like a denial of my heritage.

But that’s when my views were based on feelings, concepts and the left-wing ideologies that a university degree in Humanities almost inevitably encourages. They were rooted little in factual evidence.

For the record, I am not a patriot (hard to be a patriot when you are basically a third culture kid), and I still feel more ‘European’ than ‘British’. So let that be your frame of reference as you continue to read, if you still want to.

My cultural background and desire to feel ‘European’ were not good enough reasons to vote to stay, and after all, I don’t have to be a patriot to want the best future for my country and I don’t have to stop enjoying the benefits of European culture simply because the UK is no longer part of its political institution.

I have no problem admitting that my decision was informed largely by the views of people around me. Looking at the demographics of the Remain voters, it appears it was the same for them.

I have the immense privilege of being able to work alongside some really intelligent, and, more crucially, independently and critically-thinking colleagues.

I was also blessed to attend a meeting in the House of Lords shortly before the referendum, during which MPs and some experienced and politically-knowledgeable Christian leaders presented their arguments for Brexit. It would have been strange for me not to take any of this on board.

My vote had nothing to do with xenophobia (obviously) or the ‘make Britain great again’ rhetoric that plastered TV screens, internet news sites and posters for weeks. (I barely saw any of it, having been without a laptop and a television).

Racism aside, I do think that concerns over immigration were valid. But the immigration argument alone wouldn’t have satisfied me. I swung back and forth between Remain and Leave several times. I knew everyone at work was going to vote Leave (though the organisation didn’t take an official position, just in case you’re wondering). I knew most of my friends were going to vote Remain. I needed good reasons to base my decision on and the only good ones I heard were coming from the Brexiteers. I kept dithering because I was waiting for a convincing argument to come from a Remainer, particularly a Christian Remainer. But none came.

So I prayed, listened, weighed up and tried to look past fear-mongering and Nigel Farage and politicians mocking one another and the terrible murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

In the end, my vote came down to the basic principles of democracy and political autonomy and accountability. Having heard from older, wiser people, I gained some understanding of how the EU operates and the impact it has on the UK’s autonomy. The Bible shows us that God is not in favour of government that becomes too extensive. (The Tower of Babel is the clearest example of this). The idea of each nation governing itself is supported in the Bible, for it prevented man from gaining absolute power and making an idol of himself.

If that weren’t enough to consider, the EU, whilst founded with good intentions, is built on a very secular constitution.

The EU’s influence on Britain’s law-making concerned me. The ultra-liberal assisted suicide policies in Belgium and the Netherlands are one example of what secular constitutions have offered these nations. It’s possible that Brexit afforded Britain some protection against the introduction of policies like this.

The UK was built on Judeo-Christian values, as set down in the Magna Carta 800 years ago. I don’t pretend that the UK still adheres to some of these values, but would leaving the EU help to prevent them from disintegrating still further?

The biggest question, though, was whether God specifically wanted us in or out. The referendum was not a black and white biblical issue, but if God cares about my daily moments, why wouldn’t He care about the path of a nation? The referendum, everyone agreed, was a big decision that would have big consequences. I knew He would work out His purposes either way, but was one way better for us than the other?

The co-founder of my workplace is a Nigerian pastor who truly knows the Lord and frequently gets revelations about what God is doing and is going to do. So when he told us that he believed Brexit was ‘God’s mercy’, I took it into serious consideration. He said that if Brexit were to happen, it would essentially take ’40 days instead of 40 years’ to enter into God’s promises.

So could it be that God really wanted us out?

The day of the referendum dawned in London after one of the biggest storms I’d witnessed in a long time. The damage and flooding was bad enough to severely disrupt travel all over the city as well as commuter travel. There were reports that some people even struggled to get home from work in time to cast their vote (So I guess some never made it to the ballot).

The following day dawned a cloudless blue and I checked BBC news on my phone upon waking up, blinking in the bright sunlight, and could hardly believe what I saw.

Brexit shocked me as much as anyone else. Like many ‘Leave’ voters I didn’t really expect the result, but I didn’t gloat because I saw confusion, anger and disappointment all around me. It was a sober and quiet ‘victory’; for although I felt sure that in the long run this was the right thing, I could see that the short-term consequences were going to be painful.

In only three short weeks, the UK’s political system was unmistakably shaken, with loss, gain and exchange of power at a very rapid pace.

It was confusing and strange and very uncertain, but amongst my workplace at least there was excitement. Such a shaking could only be God’s doing – who is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked” (Ephesians 1:21), who “changes times and seasons; he deposes Kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:21), who “from one man… made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands”. (Acts 17:26).

After the referendum whilst praying one day, the Lord simply gave me Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth”.

So I am confident that the Lord, who is merciful and compassionate, will bring restoration to the UK – but only if His church cry out to Him – “Now if my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land” (1 Chronicles 7:14).

If we want this nation to once again honour God in its ways and laws, then the Church must be the first to model what this looks like.

Our hope, after all, does not lie in politics, but in Jesus Christ. So ultimately it doesn’t matter if you think Brexit was the ‘right decision’ or not. It only matters that we ground our faith on the only solid rock, and model to the world what it looks like to have this hope, steadfast and sure.

That means loving our neighbour (foreigner or native) in a radical counteraction to some of the hatred seen in the media (and social media) post-referendum. It means reconciliation with those who voted differently than you.

It means putting rest to the venom I have seen directed towards the older generation who apparently ‘ruined our futures’. As though, despite living through a World War and the greatest change a generation has likely ever seen in their lifetime, they should not have been given a say in the future of the nation.

It means understanding the issues affecting our nation right now and speaking for righteousness and truth no matter what kind of rejection it costs you. It means no compromise.

This is where my prayers lie – that the Church would wake up and respond in these fast-moving, uncertain times.

God’s will for our nation is that it becomes a nation under Him. Brexit in itself will not secure this outcome. But perhaps if we as believers could see it as an opportunity to be praying and acting into, rather than simply a symptom of how messed up we all are, we would see Him do a mighty work.

“Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habbakuk 1:5).