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.