We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Merran, a member of the OneLove committee. In this interview, Merran shares how she came to faith in a season of severe illness, and how God has continued to carry her through the challenges of motherhood and living out the Christian life in a world that has competing values and priorities.
1. How did you come to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?
throughout the pain, medical procedures and moments of fear, i discovered that i loved a god who was always there for me and whoSE goodness didn't change in a season of hardship.
I grew up in a family that loved Jesus, with parents who modelled their faith day-by-day, and who encouraged, supported and invested in sharing that faith with me. I accepted Jesus when I was about ten at Sunday School but really came to own that faith as a young adult when it carried me through a season of serious illness.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as a teenager – a diagnosis that resulted in a number of intense, life changing and medically confronting years. Throughout the pain, medical procedures and moments of fear, I discovered that I loved a God who was always there for me – a God whose goodness didn’t change in a season of hardship, and a God who could be with me in moments when I was completely vulnerable and alone. I also discovered that my church family was willing and able to sustain my family and I with love, encouragement, time, meals, wisdom and prayer.
This changed me, and changed my faith. Rather than wondering 'why me?', I was left wondering how people experience trials of this scale without our kind and gracious God to sustain them, and a church family to care for them.
2. The Christian journey can sometimes be challenging and difficult. What helps you to fix your eyes on Jesus?
i have been blessed to be part of genuine and warm church communities...being a serving and served part of the body of christ gives me a wonderful, small taste of what is to come.
I think it’s often those seasons of challenge that help me to fix my eyes on Jesus, and call me back to him again and again. In the daily busyness of life I can be easily distracted from the good things that are to come, but times of challenge and of hardship remind me how great our God is and just how abundantly he meets my needs (which are often not the needs I think I have!) and how his ways, in his time, are good.
In a very practical sense the disciplines of regular prayer and Bible reading are some of the most helpful ways I have found to ensure I am not being distracted by the world, but stay focussed on Jesus. Throughout my Christian life I have also been blessed with a church community that is genuine, warm and serves great Biblical teaching. I have been loved by inspiring and godly friends. Being a serving and served part of the body of Christ gives me a wonderful and small taste of what is to come!
3. In 2016, God gifted you with a beautiful baby boy! What have been the joys and challenges of motherhood?
A Baby is a wonderful tool for shining a light on the many areas of my life that i need less of me and more of jesus.
He did! My husband and I are very proud parents to our beautiful son Ari! Becoming a mother has taught me so much. I regularly feel overwhelmed that God has given me this wonderful, tiny person to love, to be loved by, to know and to care for. What a privilege this is. At times I also feel an immense pressure to do this job well and to work out what doing it well means.
The joy comes in so many forms, but small moments of connection, of happiness and of family time are my favourite – when my husband and son pick me up from work and I see their smiles from the car, when we have a day with no plans that we can fill with small, toddler paced activities. And watching my tiny newborn baby turning into a toddler full of independence, emotions and personality.
The challenges come in many forms also! A baby, and now a toddler is a wonderful tool for shining a light on the many areas of my life that I need less of me and more of Jesus. I have learnt how impatient I am, how quick I can be to anger, and just how much I need Jesus to be able to change. A baby is also a huge practical challenge, as my husband and I strive to find a balance between the demands of work, financial commitments, family life, and the values and aspirations our society sets for us verses the values and aspirations of our faith.
Paul Tripp's 14 Principles has a wonderful reminder, that God doesn't call us to do things because we are able. God calls unable people to do impossible tasks so that in our search for help we find more than help - we find him. This really spoke to the challenges of motherhood for me.
4. What advice would you give to other women preparing for motherhood?
I found motherhood to be a wonderful season of building new relationships and experiencing encouragement and community. I’d encourage women preparing for motherhood to look for ways to be part of their church and broader local community. These communities can become a wonderful support network for a new mum, and a unique opportunity to invest in relationships where the Gospel can be shared.
There are also so many Christian books and resources for parents and I would recommend asking friends for recommendations on great things they have read. The books I enjoyed the most were not the 'how to be a Christian parent' books, rather they were books that encouraged me to shape my parenting around gospel centred values. They were books that encouraged me to pray daily, invest in growing my own faith and to think outside of society values for families.
The books I enjoyed the most were not the 'how to be a Christian parent' books, rather they were books that encouraged me to shape my parenting around gospel centred values.
5. How does the promise of eternity impact the different roles you play on a day to day basis?
It has helped me to identify who and what my priorities are, and what the priorities for my time and family should be. It is a wonderful reminder of where the balance of my time, gifts and energy should lie, and helps me to moderate the expectations and pressures of the world.
The promise of eternity also takes the pressure off my need for control, and reminds me that ultimately I’m not in control at work, at home, or in my relationships.
Finally it reminds me that the things I love and find joy in, are not things I have earned because of my own goodness or ability, but rather generous gifts from a loving father, to be used to benefit and grow his kingdom.
The Promise of eternity reminds me that the things i love are not things i have earned because of my goodness or ability, but rather generous gifts from a loving father to be used to benefit and grow his kingdom.