God in the life of…
Words: Jo Duckles Photo: Lydia Messling
Lydia, who grew up in Kettering, Northamptonshire, never thought her life would include handing in a PhD thesis – something she did recently.
Now, living in Reading with husband David, Lydia is on the PCC at St Laurence’s, a member of the Reading Deanery Synod and Oxford Diocesan Synod. She recently presented a motion calling for us to take ambitious action in caring for creation and on climate change.
Loving going to church as she was growing up, Lydia says: “We had a great youth group. I’ve always considered myself a Christian, but my faith has gone through periods of questioning and learning to sit with uncertainty,” she says.
“The way that I know God is through creation. I find creation moves me. I’ve always wanted to know more about it.”
Lydia studied Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. A year in San Francisco was when she faced one of the biggest challenges to her faith. “I remember thinking how can I be a scientist and a Christian? Yet my faith and love of creation was the reason I was so interested in science.
“And Isaiah 40 hit me: ‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.’ God is the great scientist. There are so many things science can’t explain, but God can.”
Returning from San Francisco, Lydia spent another year in Norwich while David did a law conversion course. She worked for a social enterprise, encouraging people to lift share and commute more sustainably.
Quitting their jobs, David and Lydia moved to Reading when David spotted scholarship funding for a PhD that would suit Lydia. “It was a real step of faith,” she says. “Finding St Laurence’s made it easier. Wherever I have gone in the world, I have always found a family – God’s arm is not too short. His faithfulness in providing us with community and support has always been encouraging.”
Lydia is a climate change communications consultant, training scientists how to talk to non-academic audiences, whether they are churches, policy makers or a local school.
She also works with national governments and large financial institutions to help them understand climate change risks and how they may affect them and their future planning.
“It’s hard work, and it can be hard to stay hopeful,” says Lydia. “The hope that we have as Christians is different from the hope the world has to offer. We have a unique voice that the world and climate change needs.”