My worst ever interview was when I was age seventeen. I wanted to be on television, a Blue Peter presenter (!) ideally, and live in London. At the time I was adamant I would not consider going to university despite encouragement in that direction from parents and teachers. I read about presenters who had worked their way up after training to be secretaries at the BBC, so I applied.I got to the second stage of the process, the interviews. I don’t remember my parents being very enthusiastic about that.
On the day, after a couple of hours by train and tube, I arrived at the building in Cavendish Square in London. The foyer seemed grand. I remember black and white floors, plants and pillars, lots of space, though my memory may have embellished things. The receptionist gave me a visitor’s sticker and I think someone escorted me into the offices. It was less glamorous further into the building, plain and very beige. It could have been anywhere, but for me it was the inner sanctum, the place where my future hung in the balance. I waited in a corridor next to another young girl. I chatted to her, excited. She was a Londoner, had a great hair cut and wore a suit and heels. I had my long hair down, I couldn’t afford a suit and wore a blue jersey mini skirt and, I believe, a green v-necked cardigan on my anorexic frame. Ouch. I felt a bit of a country bumpkin.
Two women conducted the interview, they were friendly enough and kind of motherly. I’m not sure where it went wrong, but it could be that they guessed I didn’t really want to be a secretary. It could have been at the point where they asked me about weaknesses and I said a little too much and the interview seemed to become a counselling session. To be honest it was maybe far more obvious even than that.
When the interview finished I walked a little way onto Oxford Street. Wanting to do something to distract me from thinking about the interview I looked round a few shops. Suddenly, I caught my reflection in a shop mirror. Wound up in my hair was the visitor sticker. It had found its way almost half way up the length of my hair. A matted mess. I remember the sinking feeling I had knowing in all likelihood it had been getting more and more tangled during the interview. Thinking about it, those women had seemed to be looking at my hair rather than my face some of the time. I’m sure they had a good giggle afterwards. In that moment I knew that this was not going to be the beginning of a BBC career. Sure enough the rejection letter plopped through the letterbox not many days later. For so many reasons that was a good thing and I did go to university, in London.
Last week I had an interview. The first one for a very long time. I got my hair cut, dressed smart, squeezed my feet into some heeled shoes – I have learned a thing or two in the years since age seventeen. Still, I’m not sure how it went. I was out of practice with interview skills, but I did my best. I won’t hear either way for at least a month, they said there’s a bit of a process, so plenty of time to concentrate on writing and other things yet. The job would be part-time, casual and temporary so I think I should keep job hunting too.
The waiting is challenging, trust is essential. There’s a verse I love in the Bible. It says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11). I cling to this truth when there’s no money in our bank account, no job on the horizon, when there seems to be no way through a situation. There is a plan.
Besides there are so many good things. After the interview week we took a trip to Prince Edward Island to be with everyone involved in the church plant in Charlottetown. We camped with the Dreises in their new house. It was a fun family weekend, full of laughter and good times. On Saturday we worshipped all together and then heard the history and the plans for what will happen in the next couple of years, followed by a trip to the nearest beach – paddling, soccer and seaweed fights.
On Sunday, after a slower start and pancakes to fill our bellies, all the boys felled and cleared trees around the house – having fun with chain saws, tractors and ropes. Another, ‘you know you’re in Canada when…’ moment. The girls constructed the trampoline and relaxed. Later we went to the beach to walk on the red sand once again, barefoot. It seemed that too quickly we had to drive home and leave that red sand and soil behind. Our youngest sobbed as we drove back over Confederation Bridge.
The plan. I didn’t get that job as a secretary all those years ago. Instead before I went to university, I took a gap year and took part in a year team working with Grace Church, Lancing (now Jubilee Church Worthing). That year I got the bug for church planting. I got to know Tim during that year too and we were married as soon as I finished university. That year changed the direction and focus of my life and got me going on an entirely new adventure.