Knees muddy, dressed in a football kit and with two young kids in tow, I nervously edged my pushchair through the old wooden door of my “local.”
I’d just been at football training and had taken my daughters due to lack of childcare but I was determined that this Sunday would be the Sunday we tested out a new church.
I was far from wearing my ‘Sunday best’ and I was far from the ‘stereotype’ we may associate with church-goers. I had been out performing in a bellydance show on the Saturday night and then back to solo parenting life, football training and now my new weekend activity… church.
Except, I didn’t tell anyone I was going to church and most of my friends didn’t even know that I’d been baptised as an adult. I was a ‘closet Christian.’
I found faith in my twenties after a very tumultuous life journey although I had previously been a staunch Atheist. But I was drawn to Church through community spirit, a bellydance class held inside a Church where I grew up and a longing that there must be “more to life” following a series of life challenges.
Whilst my life has been transformed since finding faith, I have tended to keep it a secret, but why? I was scared of the judgement I would face and, I admit, the judgement I had previously held about people like me.
As soon as I was accepted with open arms by volunteers at St Helen’s Church in Wakefield and even praised for playing football and still making the Sunday family service that afternoon, I knew I had found my ‘new home,’ my community which has since helped to develop my confidence in all aspects of life.
I guess finding the right ‘community’ or group whether it be in church or anywhere is a bit like dating, where you’re just longing to be accepted and loved for who you are and not every hub or person will be right for you.
Despite discovering the right place for my daughters and I, feeling purpose-filled and developing a new family of friends through faith, I was still really secretive about it, until recently.
As my confidence from within has grown thanks to now having so many positive people ‘cheerleaders’ in my life, the more I have become comfortable about who I am as a multi-faceted woman who doesn’t fit any ‘norm’ as I am just perfectly imperfect.
I have since realised that the acceptance I craved needed to come from within and loving my whole self.
Yes it may have been deemed in a lot of secular areas of my life to be “uncool” to be a Christian for my fear of being dubbed a “bible basher.” Yet, I was openly blogging and vlogging online about everything from my mental illness to the graphic details of giving birth. But I was still scared to “come out” as a Christian. It would have been easier to lie and say I was off to the pub at a weekend than admit I was going to Church. However once I started being open about my faith and my whole self, the more comfortable I felt in myself and the more open others were with me. And rather than feeling I didn’t fit in anywhere, I realised that I did belong but just in the right open minded communities of non-judgemental people.
We often get so tangled up in our own fears of what other people think, that often we’re not even true to ourselves and our own values. The more we crave external acceptance, the more we lose of ourselves.
You will eventually find a ‘home’ where you feel you belong with people who may be different but are all beautifully diverse like we all are.
It’s times like this where we need community in whatever form that works for you – whether that be through a love of football or faith.
“Crisis doesn’t create community, it reveals it.”
Sophie also writes at yorkshirefamilies.co.uk, a site to support all families to get active and overcome barriers to experience the best of the region.
You can chat to her on social media @mamameiblog #perfectlyimperfect and in her facebook group – Squats and Sparkles – Women’s Health Club.