Form was an accident. It wasn’t in my five year plan. Not that I have a five year plan, but moving back to Sheffield to do
an internship with a church definitely wasn’t in it! Last summer (before I started Form), I was working full time. I kind of enjoyed my job – I could stand on my own two feet, I wasn’t really dependant on anyone. I occasionally went to church and I believed in God. What needed to change? (In reality, looking back, a lot needed to change!!)
Ending up on Form was the result of a series of “God-planned moments”. At the very last minute, I decided to go to Momentum and help on a stand in the exhibition (I’m not a last-minute type person). At some point, I bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a few years. He was just about to start Form and took me to meet the team. At this point, I had no interest. It was a ridiculous idea. I had a job. I had a flat. I was sorted. I was “happy”. By the last day of Momentum, I approached the team and asked what happened if “theoretically” I was interested. Long story short, I applied, was interviewed and turned up to work the next day and handed in my notice. Less than two weeks later, I was rocking up to Sheffield in my car packed full of all my stuff.
By the time I got to Sheffield, it finally sunk it what I had actually done, and I was hating myself for it. I’m not one to make decisions quickly or easily; my housemates will testify to that – the times they have spent trying to help me decide what to wear, or where to go for dinner… and I certainly don’t make spontaneous decisions that turn my life upside down!
In coming to Sheffield, I gave up the only identity I knew. My identity was my job title, it was the only thing that I knew I was good for, and I knew that I was good at my job. I’ve grown up being told that I was a daughter of God, a princess, but I have never lived as one. I didn’t understand what it looked like to walk as a daughter of God. Being in Sheffield with no job, I had no identity and I had no idea who I was or where God was.
Right at the beginning of the year, each of the Form Interns have a chance to say their “Form Prayer” which is an opportunity to ask God for what we wanted to see Him do in our lives over the year. Two of the things I said in mine was that I wanted to find a home and I wanted to know in my heart all the stuff that I only know in my head. Both of these things He’s done and I know that He has even more for me!
I would not have made it through the year had it not been for this “Form Family” that they talk about. If you’ve done Form, if you do Form, if you know someone that has done Form, then you will know what this means, but you won’t get it unless you experience it. At the beginning of the year, you look around a room of 25 strangers and someone stands up at the front saying these guys are going to be your family by the end of the year, you look around and think, how? What a random bunch of people!! But it’s true. Every single person brings something. If one person had been different, the year would have been different. We went on a mission trip in May, and for sure, we were a family! A beautiful family, that seeks to love each other the way that God loves each of us.
God has totally transformed my life. I have no doubt of it. I know that it was a hard journey to get where I am now, and I know that the journey is by no means over. (N.B Don’t do Form if you’re wanting an easy going, chilled out gap year!!) It’s been tough, there have been many times during the year where it would have been really easy to give up and go back to “easy” life. All through His life, Jesus challenged His disciples; He got them to step out of the boat, it wasn’t all fun and games for them. Form challenges you, it takes you out of your comfort zone. I spent six months of the year hating this and trying to resist it, when hard stuff got brought up, I would hide (often literally!), I didn’t have any idea how to process things well, I would bury them and ignore them; dealing with things was the last thing on my mind. When I finally chose to let God do what He needed to do, when I chose to engage, and when I made the decision to deal with and process things, I know that God broke in. Having been adamant all year that I couldn’t hear God, and that He probably didn’t have anything to say to me, I started to hear God speaking to me. He told me that He loved me.
I remember coming into church late after a long drive back to Sheffield with various Form teaching rolling around in my head. I had completely encountered God on the journey and was absolutely buzzing as I told one of the girls about it. It had finally struck me – after battling with it for years, I had grasped the fact that God loved me. He didn’t need a reason! It didn’t matter whether I had read my Bible every morning for a whole ten days in a row or whether I had just made a huge mistake. He still loved me. It wasn’t dependant on circumstances. He loved me just because. Because I am His daughter. I am His precious princess. He loves me.
This blog was written by Katie Wooding Jones who has just completed a year of Form and about to begin Form Two in September.