I don’t come from a church family. I was never particularly interested in God or anything to do with Church, I wasn’t against it, it just wasn’t for me.
Bobby's Hope Story from The King's Church Mid-Sussex on Vimeo.
Growing up I moved around schools a bit and was generally pretty naughty and unsettled, I had little time for authority and did what I wanted as much as I could. I come from a great family, loving parents and two older brothers who would happily intimidate anyone who threatened me at school. As I grew into my teens my perception of life was that it was ultimately one big competition where I had to get a good job and wife, provide, procreate, then that was ‘job done’.
At 18 I found myself with a stable girlfriend and doing a Law Degree which I managed to get through. As I entered my early 20s I suddenly found myself single, I was left with a bit of a void so sought to fill that by seeking other women, somewhat obsessively, and generally having fun with mates; hanging out, drinking loads and going out clubbing.
I soon fell into a decent job and was gifted an inheritance, the money fuelled my growing ethos; life was for living and having fun. I didn’t give any real thought as to how that could play out over time or how this short-term mentality affected others. As I threw myself into that lifestyle I found that each night out had to top the last. What was once enough to give me that sense of ‘living’ was no longer enough to give me the same buzz it once gave, so I just went at it harder, drinking more and getting up to more ‘mischief’. Inevitably consequences followed, the lifestyle started to eat into other parts of my life, my ‘moral compass’ that once told me where the boundaries of decency lay was slowly degraded into non-existence. I would find myself doing things that previously I would probably have viewed as not the way a ‘good bloke’ should act.
"My 'moral compass' that once told me where the boundaries of decency lay was slowley degraded into non-existance."
Fast-Forward three or so years; I found myself on a stag-do in Las Vegas, to this day I’ve never met the chap who was getting married. Off the back of a few days of ‘good’ drinking I landed in Las Vegas and within around three hours I was in the back of an ambulance having broken my leg. The result was a large hospital bill (who knew insurance doesn’t cover drunkenness!) and four weeks off the booze at my mums, bed bound, with a Ben Fogle book in hand.
This enforced lay-off naturally made me stop and reflect on things a bit, seeing that the lifestyle I was seeking led me to have a broken leg didn’t sit well with me as I’d always loved running, however as soon as I could manoeuvre myself on crutches I was back out there and trying to have a good time again, I knew no other way.
Whilst still recovering on my crutches I found myself at a friends’ wedding, he was a Christian and a Church goer. Whilst slightly merry I got chatting to the Vicar, who after a short while, mentioned that they ran an Alpha course that was an introduction to Christianity. I was interested, I never knew much about Christianity and therefore always felt ignorant to it.
A few weeks later I find myself on the Alpha Course. I started to engage with what was being presented before me about this Jesus bloke. I was instantly attracted to the guy, what he said, the way he said it and his general outlook on life. It conflicted completely with my perception of the Church; that it was all about rules, rhetoric and obedience, all concepts I was not exactly a fan of, to put it mildly. I therefore had to try to marry the two; on the one hand this Jesus I was learning about, and, on the other my view of religion and the Church and Christians. As I read and learnt more of Jesus, his life, what he said and what he claimed, I was becoming increasingly attracted and intrigued. He wasn’t just professing a lifestyle, it was deeper than that.
"...that sense of living I originally got from going out and everything that came with it, had faded and I was unable to recapture it, however hard I tried."
Whilst this internal debate was going on, I was still going out, drinking and getting up to mischief. There came a point during Alpha that I had to concede that my ‘ethos’ was not working, I had to concede to myself that I was not especially happy. Outside of the increasingly fleeting moments of friendship I felt with my mates on a night out, I was generally underwhelmed with life. My youthful dreams had started to dissipate, and a sense of the inevitability of the mundaneness that was my life was dawning on me, it seemed unsatisfactory and ultimately unfulfilling. Furthermore there was so much hypocrisy in the way I lived and I was feeling increasingly distant from my mates and life felt shallow, that sense of ‘living’ I originally got from going out and everything that came with it, had faded and I was unable to recapture it, however hard I tried. It was futile.
Therefore, being faced with this Jesus guy who claimed to be the ‘way’ and the ‘truth’ it was no doubt intriguing. But how could I put my faith in him? In short, I effectively reached a point where intellectually I felt the Bible and Jesus were substantial and substantiated, and also a sense of ‘’why not?’, ‘what have I got to lose?’ So, alongside the Vicar who had invited me to Alpha, I said a prayer, apologising for those things I knew I had done wrong and asking Jesus to guide me and to help me. I was to try his ‘way’ rather than my own.
That was over five years ago now, each day I’ve tried to seek that ‘way’, mostly unsuccessfully it has to be said, however with an honest heart I have tried. I’ve been sober for that time, thanks to following Jesus and the help of other fellows doing the same, and my whole outlook and perception on life has changed. I no longer feel am I in a competition called ‘life’ whereby I have to strive to succeed. I know, deep in my heart, that sex, salary and any perceived achievements are not going to give me peace and that sense of feeling ‘alive’ that I always wanted. So long as I am seeking his ‘way’ and ‘truth’, I feel free and at peace. Of course that’s not to say I received a golden ticket through life with no struggles. However it is through those struggles I now have a lighthouse, I now know with certainty, there is always hope.