Hi, my name is Susan McClatchey. I am a single mother of a wonderful 25 year-old son named John, and currently working as Head of Quality at a local biotech company. I want to share a little about myself and how I came to be a new member at PLC and a recent attendee of the Alpha course.
I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and joined the United Methodist Church at the age of 8. I later attended a Catholic High School. Despite some religious education, I lacked a fundamental understanding of the true meaning and purpose of Christianity or how it applies to everyday life. I graduated from high school at the age of 16, attended freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, then left home and moved to CA to attend UCSD. I’ve been in San Diego ever since. I was married not long after my sophomore year. You see, I have always been an impatient person and in a hurry to move on to the next thing. I was never willing to take the necessary time to build strong foundations and learn the lessons that prepare us for the next phase in life. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God’s timing is not always our timing. I wish I had been familiar with God’s Word and these very basic principles back then.
Although I have a loving and supportive family, they are all still on the East Coast and I did not have a church family or a strong support network to help me face life’s challenges. When things got difficult, I began to doubt the existence of God. The scientist part of me struggled with the concept of belief in anything without proof. My 12-year marriage ended and I made many decisions from a mindset of fear and anxiety. I probably don’t need to tell you how those turned out. I was sure that if God did exist, my mistakes were too bad to be forgiven. My career moved forward, but the other areas of my life stalled. The imbalance was obvious, but I focused on my strengths and ignored the ever-expanding void in my life. Luckily, God is very patient with us. He waits for us to realize that we need Him and to invite Him back into our lives.
I have lived just up the street from PLC for 16 years now. I’ve probably passed those big Alpha signs many times and not even noticed them. Robertson Davies said, “The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” God gave me some very strong hints that the emptiness in my life might be from my distance from Him. So I attended a few services at PLC where I learned about Alpha. My intention in taking the course was to learn what it means to be a Christian and get all my questions about God and the meaning of life answered. I thought it would be just another classroom experience with the pastor providing all the right answers–Christianity 101.
I have to admit to being disappointed at first. It was not at all what I expected. The weekly presentations on different topics were wonderful and informative and provided a great introduction to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. They were followed by small group sessions with Alpha leaders for further discussion. I was expecting a scholarly Q&A session where all the questions could be asked and answered; just the facts. I was missing the point entirely. The small group sessions were designed as a safe place for open discussion, the sharing of ideas, and an opportunity to learn from others and form connections. Alpha is about helping you move forward from wherever you are now in your spiritual journey, even if you haven’t started yet. It’s a safe place to recalibrate your spiritual GPS.
From the Alpha course I learned that Christianity is not about following rules. It’s about establishing an intimate personal relationship with God, knowing who Jesus Christ is and the sacrifice He made for us, and understanding the role that He should continue to play in our lives. Alpha is not designed to give you all the answers. That could take a lifetime. It’s about learning that you need to have faith first and get connected to people who can help you grow in that faith. As your faith grows, God will reveal the answers in His time. Alpha is time well-spent and like most things in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.
Click The Alpha Course to learn more about Alpha at PLC!