Personal Stories: Shelagh Denholm's story
I Decided That I Would Walk Into The Sea That Night.
God broke into my life in an amazing and miraculous way. By this time I was certainly on the wide road leading to destruction.
I’ll give just a brief description of my life before God finally found me. Actually I think He knows exactly where we are, He’s there with arms outstretched waiting and longing for us to turn to Him.
So, I was born and my mother and father divorced soon afterwards. It was difficult for my mother, there was my brother as well, slightly older than me. We lived with my grandmother in a small flat.
They were very glamorous, I was plain and fat, and I ate to comfort myself.
My brother and I were a bit in the way and we didn’t receive much attentive, demonstrative love. This affected us both.
I grew up with a desperate need to be affirmed and loved.
I can see now that my mother did her very best and it could have been so much worse.
I trained as a nurse and I was a good one, caring and very conscientious. By this time I’d lost a lot of weight and was almost anorexic. My personal life was a mess because I had no self-esteem and was a people-pleaser, always trying to get approval. I was a needy young woman. Men seemed to like me and all the doctors took me out. I put on a really good act and I drank too much.
So I think you get the picture. I didn’t believe that God existed, and actually used to say so at parties as a sort of laugh, and that Jesus was some sort of martyr, that instead of being thrown to the lions, He’d been hanged on a cross. I feel so ashamed now, how could I ever be forgiven? It was so merciful of God to do what He did.
It all began when I was standing at the bus stop at the Old Steine in Brighton; it was late November 1982. Four young people came and asked if they could talk to me, I said yes, they looked very friendly, I thought they looked like foreign students and needed to know the way!
One of the young men was from Germany; suddenly he asked me if I knew Jesus. I felt so uncomfortable, I said that I did; of course I didn’t. They could see my discomfort and just started to chat, then the bus came, to my relief. They gave me some leaflets and a little card that looked like a business card.
I arrived home and threw all the leaflets away but I kept the little card, it had “His Place” written on it and I saw that it was a coffee bar run by a Christian group called Youth With A Mission. So strange that I didn’t throw it away, anything like that would have been thrown away, I thought all Christians looked like weirdoes.
;God was starting to work in my life; I put the card in my desk with all the other papers.
So life went on. I’d managed to get on the mortgage ladder and was in awful debt, the interest rate had rocketed to 15% and I had three jobs, with the Police, the Flying Ambulance, and if there was any time left, I went to the Royal Sussex County Hospital on night duty.
I was bulaemic by this time. My last relationship had finished. I was alone.
It was July 1983, I had taken two weeks’ holiday, walking along by the sea, and I decided that I would walk into the sea that night. I couldn’t swim. Such a relief, I was exhausted and not very well. I knew my parents would care for my cats; I had a stepfather by then, and he was a kind man.
Suddenly I remembered the little card. I went home, found the card and went to look for the coffee bar. It was in a basement of the Albion Hotel. It was closed, so I went upstairs and asked the receptionist. He told me these weird young religious people would be there the next evening.
I went the next evening, so strange that I should go; somehow I thought that they would have to be nice to me, that they were Christians.
The young German man started to talk to me and I put on the big act, about all the interesting jobs etc. Suddenly he said, “So your life is ok?” I said, “No, no, it isn’t, not at all,” the mask disappeared and I started to cry. This older man came forward; he was in charge of the group. Normally he was a man who would have annoyed me somehow, but God, in His mercy was working. This man started to read all these Bible verses, they went in one ear and out the other, then suddenly he said, “God will always love you, He’ll never go off you or get tired of you.” I just said, “Where is this God, I want to know Him.”
None of them knew about me, about my personal problems. It was God breaking into my life.
I went home and asked Jesus to take over my life, I was on my knees all night thanking Him for His sacrifice so that I could be forgiven, healed, that I had become a child of God.
It was such an incredible night. There seemed to be a faint breeze blowing and my two cats were purring and rolling around in ecstasy. The Holy Spirit was there. Finally I went to bed and slept, I hadn’t slept for such a long time. When I woke up, I wasn’t bulaemic anymore, I just felt so different. It was Saturday morning; I went and bought a Bible. I couldn’t put it down. I started with the book of Revelation and then I went on to the book of Acts. I always read the end before the beginning! Normally it would have been piffle to me; now I just found it amazing and wonderful.
Now I belong to God, saved by the blood of Jesus. I have the free gift of Eternal Life. One day God will take me home and I shall see my loved ones and Policemen and other people who became believers when they saw the change in me.
Now, when I look around at all the hurting and lonely people, I just want them to know Jesus and how He would help them and love them. He has been so faithful to me.