I remember when our youth leader died died, I was going to meet JM for the usual dog walk before the peace and healing service, FM came to the door, causing me to cringe and expect a verbal battering, but he just said ‘JM has been called out because someone has collapsed, could you take the dog?’
(he always called her ‘the dog’, dogs never had names to him).
At the peace and healing service JM announced the youth leader’s death from a heart attack, I was stunned, he was a big hearty happy man, who loved long distance walking with the other leader, and helping with youth group and prayer and praise, he always made a point of talking to me, even when I could find no words at all to answer him. He loved worshipping, he would raise his arms and worship with all of his heart, he was in his 40s with two children at school, his 11 year old son was part of our youth group, and at the funeral his son played the guitar in the worship band as well as at the prayer and praise service we dedicated to him. The memories make my heart sad. I remember someone trying to comfort ***** as she sobbed at the funeral, she stopped coming to Youth Group and prayer and praise, and I missed her. Lots of big characters died when I was part of the L. community.
There is the old church there in L. that was a good balanced church that I was part of, and there is the new poor version of it, which is charismatic and empty-hearted.
I remember the youth leader at my first L. Show Service, doing a drama based on ‘who wants to be a millionaire’, it was called ‘who wants to win eternal life’ and despite it being about how you cannot win eternal life, it is a gift from God, the name of the drama and the way it went caused complaints. Anyway, I remember that and think that he went to eternal life not long after that.
We sang ‘Father I place into Your Hands the things I cannot do’ at that service, and that hymn remains a favourite, I am listening to it now to help me write. I want that hymn at my funeral when the time comes.
The prayer and praise and all age worship at L. was lively and joyful but not the extreme charismatic worship that I cannot stand, there were no ‘miracles’ and ‘words’ and throwing ourselves on the floor and fainting, there was only worship and enthusiastic teaching and happiness. That element of L. church went when people died, were arrested and moved away, leaving the new set of people who came in and took it over, including the *****’s who left the church in town for some reason and took over L. church, bossing people including me about, patronizing me and making me feel small;
One day not long after they arrived, I was sitting with M and S, and ****** came and leaned over M and S as if they were not there and spoke to me as if I was a child, asking if I would like to have lunch with them…
I think it was Easter lunch, so that I wouldn’t be lonely, I was livid that they had come to my church and were patronizing me like this, and that was one of a few incidents of being patronized and bossed about by *******, I don’t know why they left the church in town and took over L. church and have tried to make it into their church and rip the pews out and have weird sounding festivals, but L. church is so full of ghosts and bad memories, and also shunning now, that I wouldn’t go back anyway.
So if they want to turning it into a charismatic church and take the pews and all the history away and have ‘words from God’ and fainting and healing miracles then they are welcome to. I just don’t need to associate with people who make me feel small in front of my friends and who laughed because I had never been on holiday when I first met them.
I don’t need the church of england, really they have been the bane of my life since I was a teenager and still are now, years after I renounced them.
In ***** and Jersey there was nothing like this stream of deaths in L. I remember coming back from Jersey one time to find that ****** who I used to have the occasional breakfast with, had died, I hadn’t even known she was ill, I knelt at her memorial stone and said to her ‘I bet you are in heaven, fixing a spot of tea and toast for God’. I can almost imagine that. She had a good heart, but ***** was sometimes rude about her and her way of doing things. And I remember ****** dying in Jersey, he had been nice to me but I was alienated from him by my abusers. And the churchwarden’s neighbour’s suicide rocked me as well.
Why am I talking about death here?
A. took me to the careers office at some point when I was 20, to see what my future might be, we both fell about laughing when the computer questionnaire suggested I had aptitude to be a steeplejack among other things!
But the benefits agency did a medical assessment and suggested that I could spend the foreseeable future just living in the sheltered house and doing very little, I was not content with that though. I wanted to progress. JM paid for me to do two correspondence courses, maths and psychology, but she didn’t seem to realise that I needed to book to do exams through an exam centre, and on my own back then I had absolutely no ability to arrange that, so I was stumped in getting the qualifications, and I gave up the coursework when I phoned one course tutor hesitantly with a question about the course, and was met with rudeness, I was demoralised and discouraged, and so I gave up. Weak I know. But the anti-depressants and then lack of them were also not helping.
I learned about autism from the psychology course, and that is when I started realising that I was autistic, even though it took years to get diagnosis.
My problems understanding people were so obvious that a hearing test was arranged for me when I was 20, the audiology department said that my hearing was remarkably sharp, and that the problem I was having appeared to be speech input disorder (dysphasia), I was relieved to finally know, to finally understand, and especially to go to JM and tell her that this was why her farmer friends had thought I was awkward and didn’t respond to their instruction! I was thrilled to know that there was a name for this barrier between me and the rest of the world!
JM did as she does and tried to play it all down as nothing, but I was overwhelmed to know for myself that I was not being awkward or stupid, and amazingly the dysphasia has faded over the years and 90% of the time I understand what is said, the times I have difficulty are on the phone, sometimes with people I don’t know, when people greet me, especially from a distance, and when more than one person is speaking, and when someone tries to speak to me in a crowd, or specifically if I am under any stress.
But my hearing is remarkably sharp, I suffer autism related auditory sensitivity which can make life utter agony and I have realised one of the reasons I am called mad or people wonder what is wrong with me is because I have been known to clutch and shake my head and whimper at noises that hurt me, JM used to say I was acting out when I escaped church functions in distress because of the noise and the echo in the church room, JM hurt me a lot with her opinion. She said things like calling me an inverted snob because I felt so useless and ragged and stupid compared to my high-flying friends and youth group in L, when I was not meaning snobbishness at all, just belittling myself for not being able to be like them. Coming from utter poverty to probably the most wealthy and high-flying community you could find was very very hard, almost a cruel joke on God’s part, the young people of this community did not have to work for acceptance, understanding, possessions or anything, it was all provided in skipfuls, while I had a lifetime of struggle behind and before me. I was very maladjusted, and they helped me such a lot.