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Amy's Story: Life as a carer

Amy Summerfield photo Amy Summerfield · 23 Aug, 2020

Amy explains how growing up as a young carer, and dyslexia, lead her to a stronger relationship with God.

Hey, my name is Amy. Just a little bit about my life. All change at the moment. I've just moved down from Scotland to Hitchin, having worked there as a church leader for six years and now work for a whole bunch of churches that are all the way around the UK, just helping to encourage and develop them. And I also work for an organisation called Career, which is for women in leadership, especially in the Christian faith sector. So yeah, just a little bit about my life.

I wouldn't say I've particularly had an easy life. There's definitely been some highs and lows, like there has been for all of us. A couple of experiences that really stick out for me and then ones that I've definitely learnt from, ones that have shaped me, have been being a young carer.

Growing up, both my mum and dad suffered from real struggles with their health. My mum's long-term disabled and has consistently got mobility issues and been in and out of hospital. And my dad in my teenage years suffered a very severe mental health break down, which saw him often try to take his life and be sectioned by the police.

And all of this meant that I was a young carer for my parents and this of course had an impact on my social life. It had an impact on my spiritual life, my understanding of Christianity and God, had an impact definitely on my education. And of course it had an impact on my mental health as well.

And yeah, coming back to education, that would be probably another stress and strain. In my younger years I really hated school. I struggled with school for two reasons. One that I was consistently bullied in primary school and then for the early part of secondary school, and two that I'm dyslexic. And therefore just really, really battled with my education. Really, really battled with any kind of attention span to want to learn anything. As a result I still a scraped, literally scraped, through GCSEs and got one A-level. But really battled and struggled. Still struggle today in terms of that learning approach.

And so I guess those would be a few definitive experiences that have really been quite hard for me. But on the flip side have really taught me a lot. What have they taught me? It certainly taught me resilience and it certainly taught me what it looks like to find strength and find courage to keep going in some of those experiences that I've just told you about.

But on the darker side, I'd say that it often taught me how to be a little bit too independent and often taught me how to be a little bit too isolated. And I would say that previously I've really struggled in terms of allowing help and getting people to just be alongside me in some of those struggles because some of those experiences just saw me have to do it on my own.

So I think there's good experiences to take from some of the things that I've been through. And there's also challenges as well, isn't there, in terms of how I could do that better.

One thing I think that consistently rides all the way through these experiences is just comparison. And I remember feeling younger and just feeling like I never measured up. Feeling like I was bullied because I didn't look like this or I didn't act like this, feeling like I was compared to by my older brother who was really clever. And actually I was brought up in a village and my mum and dad went to the same schools as me as well. I remember my teachers would always be like, "You're not as clever as your brother." And, "If only you were like your mom." "If only you were like your dad." And, yeah, just never felt like I fit, never felt like I measured up.

Always felt that, because of life's stresses and strains, that there was never a place for me. Until at 18 I found faith. And until 18 I found Jesus. And one Bible verse that always sticks out to me is a book in the Bible, it's called Ephesians. And there's a chapter in there, chapter three verse 18 that says this, "May you grasp how wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ. And may you know that love, which surpasses knowledge. And may you be filled to the measure of fullness of God." And that's always been a really comforting verse to me.

For me, especially in terms of feeling like I've never measured up, and especially in terms of feeling like I'm not good enough, I'm not clever enough, I'm not wise enough. I'm not good looking enough, et cetera, et cetera. Just to know that the God who created me wants me to grasp how wide, how long, how high, how deep his love is for me. And I can measure up to that love. And the reality is, is I can't measure God's love. It's immeasurable. It's with me all the time. It's with me when I make mistakes. It's with me when people do wrong to me. It's with me When I do wrong to other people.

So may I be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God today. And may you too, in all of life's highs and lows, may you know, through the experiences that I've shared, and many, many more that you've gone through, maybe similar ones, that the reality is is we measure up to God. We really do. He loves us. He has an immeasurable love for us. And so let's be encouraged in that today.

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