Desires of my heart

Let the little children come to me

14Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

St Mary’s volunteer lanyard

A St Mary’s volunteer lanyard, on seemingly semi-permanent loan from the church.

Once St Mary’s clocked that I was not working and was willing, I got pulled in to assist with all sorts of activities. My experience with art-making made running a preplanned craft activity at the Light Party seem feasible. But things progressed fast.

I was then asked to help deliver an exploration of the Nativity to local schoolchildren. The step up in what was being demanded of me felt considerable. Experience Christmas focuses less on crafts and more on Jesus. The evening before, I was in the pub with the bellringers. When the bellringing gang looked dismayed at my leaving early, I told them

I’ve got to go. I have to get up in the morning. Gotta go indoctrinate some small children.

They told me

You don’t seem wild about this.

The Youth Minister at St Mary’s bashes the kids over the head with a Bible less than I had feared. Still, the Experience was a bit overwhelming and when I confessed this to Chloe, she said breezily

Don’t worry. There will be more for you to do at Easter.

I thought:


Command them to … be willing to share

Art materials are a vessel. They contain my anxieties. Art-making distracts and serves as a shared focus. By my third or fourth time volunteering with the kids, I have given up on reticence. I get called in to help facilitate a visit to the church from the local primary school. In contrast with previous times when I have delivered a pre-planned craft activity, this time I am to devise an activity myself in line with the themes for the day: faith, community, diversity and inclusion.

18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

When given a problem I do not know how to solve, my first strategy is this: find someone who has solved this problem before, and ask them. I fired off an email to my art psychotherapist asking for suggestions. I needed a ten-minute activity with a one-word prompt, to go along with the themes for the day. After a brief exchange of ideas about structure, art materials, and underlying motivations, I went with the theme of sharing.

Year 3 from St Mary’s Church of England Primary School rotated around different tables at church in small groups, thinking about and discussing different aspects of our themes.

At my table, we asked

What might we share? What do people share with us?


Why do we share? Why is sharing important?

Answers ran the gamut from my Nintendo, the Bible, food and toys through to things we should not share: your credit card number. Among motivations for sharing, joy was commonly put forward, a bit of a surprise as I was expecting answers based on physical needs.

Then we got stuck in the the creative process, drawing pictures of what we might share and assembling a giant collage.

Sharing collage

Sharing collage.

Take delight in the Lord

Year 3 took their collage with them back to their classroom. I am left exhausted but exhilarated. I am finding it hard to accept how much I am enjoying It All. Early on in the journey, in the free fall furnishing my vertiginous descent into Christianity, I plied one of my disciplers with

But how can I trust this? How?

By this I meant Jesus, God, the Bible. Anything.

With that circular reasoning characteristic of an Evangelical, they offered scripture. As if that would help.

3Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

A year later, it is dawning on me that the desires of your heart routine is a double-edged sword of laser precision. You will be given, in time, everything that you never knew that you wanted.

Not for human masters

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

As Richard moves into job-hunting territory, I, with God’s will and a following wind, move out of it. All of that getting stuck in at St Mary’s this past year has paid off. I have been offered a job in the St Mary’s church office.

I feel I can breathe again. That stage of the job hunt seems to be over. I have concerns though. When James mentioned the upcoming vacancy my first response was

Isn’t that really risky, working for your own Vicar.

To which James replied


At least we are on the same page, then.

The congregation seem delighted it will be me in the role, but I am wary. Will how they see me, change? I have been off work for some time now. Will I cope? What the heck does God have planned for me next?

At least, provided I do start as planned in a few days, I will have a new job title. Thus I have solved one problem which was bothering me: what to put on my LinkedIn.

This post comes with particular thanks to: nwg of Essex, the cheer squad, and everyone who cajoled, commiserated, believed in or prayed for or with me during the job hunt; everyone who agreed to provide a reference, met me for coffee, or pointed out a potential job. Most of all thanks to God for his guiding and guarding hand over all of us, and thanks to the good people of St Mary’s for giving me this opportunity.

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