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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.

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