Monday, October 05, 2009

How Not to Be

Deep chagrin is what I feel as I read further in my journal of 1967. I feel as if I have to keep saying to myself, "I was only 17. I was only 17."

I had not even sent the goodbye letter to Peter yet, although I had written it and made up my mind never to see him again. We were over as far as I was concerned. Curiously, I was finding myself day dreaming about Paul, but a chance remark overheard had led me to believe, erroneously, that he was seeing someone.

Another young man though, was showing a lot of interest: Michael. He was a new Christian, full of passion for God and we had many things in common, including a love of art. We talked for hours the first few days we spent time together. I ended a journal entry that week with these words, which make me laugh and cringe at the same time: "I feel a faint regret (about Peter,) but it had to end. I could never live my whole life away in a fire station."

Mike was polite and interesting. After only a couple of weeks he told me that he had fallen in love with me, to which I wrote, "Oh, I like him so much, I think I must love him." Aaargh! I was in love with the idea of being in love. Things were moving very fast indeed. Towards the end of May, a month after we had started seeing each other, Mike was serious and asking me how I felt. Fortunately I managed to hold onto my senses for once and said I needed time.

One Saturday at the beginning of June--June 3-- we went to a church in Hockley, the slum area of Birmingham where forty six years earlier, Dad had spent his first five years of life with his grandparents. Two female ministers led the church there. We called them the "Hockley sisters." On Saturday evenings the church would be packed with people of all ages, worshipping and singing in the spiritual languages of tongues, as written about in the book of Acts and some of the epistles. I had been praying for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and that night, I knew somehow that this was the night it would happen.

The altar was opened at the end of the service for those who wanted prayer and as I walked to the front of the church, I felt as though bolts of electricity were flowing through my body and I was shaking so much that I couldn't stand. I felt pins and needles all over and it hurt to move. I spoke words/sounds that had no meaning to me, but with which I worshiped God from somewhere deep in my spirit and on a level I had never experienced before. In the prayer room I began to sob and sob. It was a deep, cleansing sobbing and I felt as though a great burden had been lifted. When we finally got home, I told Dad what had happened. He was very interested and talked to us for hours.

On June the 5th I noted in my journal that Jerusalem was at war.There was a deep awareness that we were seeing Bible prophesy unfolding in the events of the news.

Eileen and I had joined a singing group at the church and were practicing hard every week with the rest of the group--Hans, Richard, Mike, Paul and John. The older people in the church made way for us to sing each Sunday. It was so important for us to have a place in the life of the church. We felt that we belonged.

By mid June I was thinking of Paul more frequently and Mike was putting pressure on me to make some sort of commitment. I felt as though I made everyone I became involved with miserable--quite rightly, I think in retrospect. I wrote on June 12th, "I don't intend getting married for ages, if at all." Then on June 24th I wrote of Mike, "I wish I had the courage to tell him I just can't make myself love him."

When I finally did tell him, a few days later, as we walked in the park that surrounded the art club (which Mike had joined)it made no difference. Mike was certain that it would work anyway, but we agreed to not see each other for two weeks.

After 10 days, Mike and I went to Hockley again. I had been asking God for a sign. That night the preacher at Hockley spoke on signs and how they worked, so I prayed, "God, if you want Mike and I together, please give me one." I'd heard about "putting out a fleece," just like the account of Gideon in the Bible, so I prayed that if God wanted us together, Mike's motorbike would break down--never thinking for one moment that it would. We got right into town after the meeting and just as we were looking for a place to park, it stopped dead! I went cold. I was so confused! Could God really want me to marry a man I didn't love? Mike told me I was free for as long as I wanted, but to tell him when I knew what to do.

That night poor Mum didn't sleep a wink worrying about it all. Everyone in my life was a wreck.

Over the next several weeks Mike asked now and again how I was doing, but eventually gave up hope. I decided to that I had to trust my heart and feelings more than a tenuous "sign."

Mike went on to marry someone much better suited to him than I. He had five children and became a minister and missionary.

A few months later, in December, Paul and I finally did get together and at last I had found my heart's true home.

Yes, I was "only 17" and I had a lot of growing up yet to do.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Belinda, I think it's important to honour some of our past selves. You're adolescent you couldn't know the future, she was coping - it seems well - during really difficult times. My adult me could not go through all that adolescent angst and turmoil, all that confusion and pain, all that drama! As I read about the 'you' then, I admire her. She made hard decisions, she looked for courage within and found it, she went with her mind when she needed her mind to win, and, even better, she wrote it all down. Me, I like her, she's go a great head on her shoulders ... had to have ... look where she ended up.

Susan said...

Oh, the torments of those years! I wouldn't go back there for ANYTHING - even knowing what I know now. :)

I'm glad for the opportunity to get to know you at 17. That's how old I was when I met Ron. (The poor guy.)

Dave's perspective is perfect.. what good friends you have! :)

Susan said...

P.S. "At last I found my heart's true home."

Thank God for happy endings! I love how you worded that. It's like the perfect ending to a romance novel. Which this story is! :)

Poppy said...

Dear Bel(Q)- I've read the post several times over,but I can't figure out which part "how not to be". The wise one who didn't jump into committment?The kind one who refused to be pressured and give an answer she didn't mean?The smart one who even then knew her yes should mean yes and her no,no?Poppy

Belinda said...

Wow, I have such kind friends. I thought after writing this that the best use for my early journals would be, as I titled the post, an example of how not to be. That anyone sees good in anything I did back then, well, that is kind. :)My life then, could have rivaled any soap opera! :)

I love you all and miss you, but feel connected knowing that you're visiting here on the blog, just as though you've pulled up a chair for a nice cup of tea and a chat.

Marilyn said...

What a treat this tale is!!

Night Owl said...

Dearest Belinda,

I think you were an incredibly wise seventeen year old!
I didn't even have such relationships when I was seventeen. Oh wait, I still don't. I suppose the times have changed more than a little bit, but still...

In some ways, I'm glad not to have that pressure, but in some ways, it is difficult to feel unloved, sometimes. Well, I'm just loved in other places, I guess.

Coincidentally, I've happened upon an article about Christians and marriage I'd like to share. It's a difficult concept for a lot of young people, these days. I'm not sure I agree with the viewpoint of the article, but some of the comments are very interesting!

Anyway, I'm so happy that you've found such a lovely and gem-like soul mate. :)

Love and hugs,

Night Owl said...

Oh yeah, and I don't think the title "how not to be" is appropriate. I mean, how else would you have become the wonderful, wonderful person you are now? I wouldn't change you for the world, that is for certain.

Everything happens for a reason in the plan.

(Well, I believe that, at least.)


Belinda said...

Thanks dear Night,
I'm going to check out the link.
A big hug from across the Atlantic! I hope it isn't soggy.:)

Belinda said...

Hey again Night! I checked out the link on singleness, and I agree with you that the comments definitely give a more balanced and accurate interpretation of the scriptural direction on the topic than the article does.

On the topic of romance, one of the refreshing differences I noticed when we came to Canada was that young people had friendships that had nothing to do with "love" or "sex." In the environment in which I grew up, we were socialized to be extremely aware of both, and if relationships did not develop in a romantic vein we thought there was something wrong. I think this was partly borne of insecurities about our attractiveness as young women.

On the other hand, we were young and trying our relational wings, learning by experience in sometimes painful and blundering ways! And we survived the emotional rollercoaster somehow!

Night Owl said...

Hi Belinda,
I think there is definitely something to be said about both societal views on relationships: the romantic sort and the friendship sort. A balance would be best and ideal, probably.
Well, I suppose even if society as a whole doesn't go for the balanced sort of approach to these things, individuals could still try. :)
got your not-too-soggy hug, thanks. :)
love, night