"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Walking out of King's Cross Station for the first time, nothing could have prepared me for the myriad of emotions I felt at that moment. I felt like I was supposed to be grateful. After all, this job was the answer to all my prayers over the seven months after graduating and the happy ending to a story of countless rejections, ghosted applications, and disappointing interviews. Instead, I was overwhelmed because I was so far away from everything I knew. It took me time and effort to connect with people during university in Glasgow, and I was not sure I had it in me to do that again. I had to start from scratch in a city that is dizzyingly busy, work in the gruelling world of politics, and be a social pariah because of my pro-life affiliations.
It took me less than a week to realise that working in the pro-life/political space would be a very lonely affair or so I thought then. Being a Christian in this space brings a unique set of challenges and can subject you to a lot of hate and vitriol.
Over the weekends, I began church hunting. I went to numerous churches across the city for about three months. One of the great allures of being in a larger city is that you are spoilt for choice with the number of churches you can attend. In a stage of my life which would have been massively helped by the stability of being plugged into a good local church and Christian community, I was constantly church-hopping. I finally settled in a church in South London and I committed to attending regularly within a couple of weeks. Getting plugged into a local church helped my otherwise chaotic life gain a bit of rhythm. No matter how fatiguing my week could be, I was able to look forward to midweek life groups and church on a Sunday. It also helped to find other Christians who worked similar jobs and could relate to the struggles that I was facing.
Building these relationships as a graduate took me far more intentionality than it did when I was a student. This was not particularly easy because I had to work long hours, and my reflex was often to buy a pizza and watch something on Netflix while sulking about the fact that I had not formed any deep friendships. Personally, I found it difficult to ask for help or admit that I was lonely. I felt the need to put on a veneer of fake bravado. I wanted to come across as a person who had everything figured out and was a 'well-adjusted' adult (whatever that means). I often found myself being performative around people, sadly, to my own detriment. Seeing other friends be vulnerable and letting Christ work in their hearts, through people, in the depths of their disappointments, hurts, and insecurities challenged me to let my guard down and let people in. Being made more like Christ is meant to happen in community. It often takes leaning against our instincts to build these relationships. I had to make time for these friendships, learn to be vulnerable about my struggles with work, sin, and faith, and be more deliberate in asking questions beyond the usual 'How was your week?'
One of the unique challenges of being a Christian in the political space in Britain today is that you can very quickly become nihilistic in your worldview. It feels like you are putting out fires all the time and fighting losing battles. There is a subtle temptation to either stop caring about the issues or start hating the people on the other side of the aisle. It helps to be honest about this. I have spoken to friends about my constant struggle to find motivation when I am emotionally drained because I feel like the work that I am doing makes no difference and my proclivity to approach contentious issues with a lack of love. The encouragement that I have received has often been the difference between me carrying on and burning out.
Life after graduation can be daunting and is, quite often, a lonely affair. It is far too easy to try and run away from where God has placed you, back to the comfort of familiarity. Know that you were not meant to bear this load on your own. Rest in God and His word, lean on Christian brothers and sisters, and you will find that this period of life is just as exciting as it is difficult.