First Impressions

Urban, edgy, hectic and diverse. Bustling with a myriad of languages and nationalities, I walk down the hill from the school gate, surrounded by people on all sides, pushing, squeezing, navigating their way through the morning rush. Stopping for a moment to take it all in, I’ve found myself both in awe that we’ve landed in a place where the nations are crowding around us, and also in tearful overwhelm that we’re so far from the leafy northern suburb we’ve come from. There are so many first impressions which I’ve already noticed disappearing, as life here begins to feel more normal. Supersized roundabouts and edgy driving have become a daily reality. Slowing my speech in the hope of starting conversations at the school gate has become a necessity.  This is urban with a capital U.  This is Uxbridge, our new home. 

As we leave our front door to get to school, we walk past a deeply troubled traveller neighbour on the canal, trudging our way through the canal’s underpass and towards the town, taking in people’s early morning or late night rhythms. I am struck that in moving here, there is no way to shield my children from the brokenness of city life around us.  Our quiet, secluded school run has been replaced with sometimes eye-opening sights and inquisitive comments from those holding my hands.  Certainly the costliness of this move for our family has felt daunting.  Whilst most contemporaries have moved out of London to more comfortable, peaceable scapes, we are actively choosing the opposite for our children. 

And yet, as we’ve set up home here, and my husband has started his role as Pastor, it’s felt wonderfully freeing to just crack on with serving, in the place the Lord has called us to.  In all the newness and change, in all the questions that have been raised in my mind, and in all the wobbliness of transition, there’s a settledness, knowing that if the Lord has called us here, he will provide.  He will lead.  He will shepherd and guide us, and satisfy our desires with good things. 

We’ve come from a church planting situation, into a church that has been established for 175 years. From a church with no building to a building at the heart of church life.  From a fairly transient, young community to a church where families have been rooted for generations.  In so many ways, both inside and outside of church-life feel so very different from where we’ve come from.  And yet, as we stand on gospel convictions that have been nurtured, shaped and honed over the years, we stand on familiar and solid ground.  Most crucially, we stand on a steadfast, imperishable hope that is the most beautiful good news ever imaginable.  The more I’ve fixed my gaze on this hope in this season, the more the Lord has steadied my feet day by day.

And so we are sitting in this new community, in our new church family, seeking to listen and learn. To understand where we’ve landed, what the needs are, and how we can best serve.  We’re in awe at the privilege and responsibility it is to be welcomed into people’s homes and lives, and trusted with heartfelt histories, woes, and encouragements.  And as I watch my husband preach, lovingly get alongside people and gently, prayerfully get on with the task in hand, my heart is full, knowing the Lord is faithful and he will help me to root my heart here, with this flock, to the praise of his glory.

Sarah Dargue is married to David and with their kids they moved to Waterloo Road Church in Uxbridge last year.

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