Shelley Perry is the Clinical Director of the Breathe Eating Disorder Service. We’re thrilled she’s taken time out of her jam-packed schedule to explain to you why we think she is absolutely, a Dangerous Woman!

DWbreathepic

 

Who am I and what do I do?

Well, I am a woman of God, a widow, a single mum and a

daughter, and recently a girlfriend too, to a lovely Christian man!

 

I love dancing, spending time with family and friends, reading, theatre and I love learning

new things. Life excites me as I feel it is full of opportunity!

 

I am passionate about most things I do especially combining works with faith and love

through Jesus. I have a heart for the broken and wounded, the hurting people that society

writes off because of addiction, abuse and trauma.

 

I have been on my own journey and by the age of 18 felt like I has seen and done things

most people wouldn’t experience in a lifetime. I believe that God was equipping me for

mission with him.

 

I am passionate about seeing people healed healing and believe I am blessed with a gift of

healing and compassion, in particular for those with an eating disorder.

 

Having had an eating disorder myself and the experience of low self worth I even

questioned the point in continuing with life but I received complete healing through God’s

love and acceptance. I want to share that with others.

 

I trained as a mental health nurse and specialised eventually in treatment of eating

disorders. I then founded the charity S.E.E.D followed by the treatment service Breathe,

after God gave me a vision for these services/mission.

 

A typical day for me?

The day begins by staying in bed longer than I should before eating

breakfast with my daughter as we navigate the plans for the day ahead.

After the school run I head to work for an hours ‘protected time’ where I can catch up with

any emails and outstanding work before my team walk in the door.

 

Then, in between meetings clinicians come and discuss their concerns about individual

clients and we plan how to manage that.

 

Of course there’s always the welcome distraction of one of our volunteers, Michael, who

has Aspergers. He pops in periodically to tell me the time, what’s happening in the world of

sport and what that means in three different languages.He is easily forgiven though as he

tends to come armed with a cup of tea!

 

The work day continues with client meetings and paperwork – before realising even more

paperwork hasn’t been done! I maybe have time to paste something to our facebook page

before realising it’s 8.30pm and time to pick madam up from gymnastics.

 

We go home and eat tea together and talk over the day. Note to self, must get dishwasher!

Madam retires to her room to do homework and Chris (that lovely Christian man I was

telling you about), then turns up and we have an hour or so putting the world to rites

and talking about our respective days before praying together and off he goes. Then it’s

definitely bedtime.

 

How did you end up in this kind of ministry?

Well the honest answer is that it must have been God because I WAS going to be a

journalist. However, by the age of 16 I had it on my heart to be a counsellor and sought

training for various counselling courses. Then at 17 I tried to get on a Social Work course

but was too young. God needed to take me on my own journey first. He’s still working on

my humility and patience as I have a tendency to learn the hard way!

 

By the time I was 19, after working in a hospital with people who had mental health and

learning difficulties, and then some time in a secure unit, I had got as high as I could

without training and qualifying as a nurse.

 

My mum was a nurse and I said I would never do, it but this felt different. I applied and

was advised to apply for Mental Health Nursing, which was a real eye opener. I adapted

working with extremely damaged, broken and dangerous (to self and/or others) people

became my specialism.

 

Again, I saw pain and found myself experiencing pain with and for people, but in a way

that I could harness to show compassion, empathy, patience, tolerance and love for. I

found it much easier to relate to men though. Actually I didn’t really understand women.

What I came to realise was that while my dad was emotionally expressive, my mum

and grandma hadn’t been. I didn’t really understand them and more importantly, I didn’t

understand myself. God began showing me my own pain and speaking to me about how

I needed to open my heart and receive His compassion, empathy, patience, love and

healing.

 

Without understanding and accepting myself I could only go so far with this work.

 

It’s only really now, after 21 years as a Christian, that I am starting to accept who I am as

a woman and that it REALLY is ok to be me, with all my complexities, vulnerabilities and

fears. With God and because of God I can love and accept myself and give myself some

self respect without having to adhere to the superficial demands of this world. I can allow

myself to be vulnerable, gentle, empowered but feminine (not necessarily sexual/sexy). I

believe this is why God has given me this work to do. My work is about self-awareness,

self-acceptance, self-love and healing. He gives me a passion to work with women and

share that. To empower them and be powerful and confident.

 

What has the journey been like? Have you always been sure of God’s leading?

Since being a Christian I can honestly say I’ve known God loves and forgives me. I haven’t

always listened and I haven’t always heard His voice. I used to get really frustrated that I

couldn’t hear him directly speaking to me and it took me a long time to realise that actually

He gives us His word to direct us, and as long as we are in line with that and our motive is

right before the Lord we cant go too far wrong.

 

I’ve come to see God as a loving and gentle parent who will allow you to receive the

consequences of your actions – and I’ve been there many a time unfortunately. In my

arrogance I always think I know best. Mmm, maybe not. When things weren’t going well

with my husband I wondered where God was in it all. My husband died, but throughout it

all I knew His presence, His love and His strength.

 

In saying that, there have been times even as a Christian when I struggled with depression

and after my husband died I was diagnosed with ME. I didn’t tell anyone or even accept it

for ten years. I just struggled on and lost days in bed every week, but throughout all of He

didn’t promise us a smooth path, He promised us His peace and strength in Him and hope

for the future. He is a God who keeps his promises.

 

How would you define evangelism?

I’ve battled with rules and obedience and had a rocky struggle in my Christian walk and

so my automatic thought when it comes to the word evangelism, with me equating it to the

kind of evangelism where you share with people that all things are amazing in your life and

its’ all good and its’ all God and you should do it too, is that it has felt cheesy and unreal. If

I’m honest that’s irritated me over the years.

 

However, I believe in being real about faith and perseverance, love, patience and sharing

my journey. All of it – the frustrations, confusion, doubts, fears and celebrations and

breakthroughs. That’s my version of evangelism. God didn’t say it would be easy. He said

He would be with us amidst the storm and He would provide all that we need in the storm.

That he would sustain us.

 

What barriers have you overcome on your Christian journey in sharing your faith, and

how have you overcome them?

I haven’t always been a great Ambassador for God as at times I’ve made mistakes and

been a hypocrite. I guess thats a part of being a daughter of Adam and Eve and the

consequences of their decisions and my own.

 

The world likes to look for fault and point the finger – it’s a bit like self-preservation.

My friends didn’t accept my radical change to being a full-on believer, and looked for flaws.

Of course they found plenty of them. They spent years criticising, ridiculing and belittling

me but I carried on sharing God’s love. As it turned out many of those friendships came to

an end but God is already starting to fill those gaps with wholesome relationships where I

can be myself, sharing my faith without judgement or condemnation. I have found that the

older relationships which I still have, are with people who love me and accept me for who I

am but they also respect my faith and will allow me to share my love of Jesus with them.

After many years even my brother, who initially hated the fact I was a Christian, is even

open to some really great conversations. Now that’s a miracle!

 

What are your thoughts about Christian women being dangerous?

What a great question!

 

In my opinion, Christian women are more likely to have access, the receptive audience to

them as women, and hopefully the developed emotional and social skills, along with the

powerful combination of the Holy Spirit, and dare I say it, maybe the time, to offer love,

acceptance and healing, build a community and grow and impact the next generation

and the last. What a ministry!

 

Devil, watch out, these women are on your patch and they are dangerous! 🙂

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