So, three years ago yesterday I gave my life to God. That one decision has shaped my entire life since. Not just shaped but utterly transformed/changed/turned upside ,by the love of God. I look back now and I can’t believe I ever lived without Jesus in my life. But I did, and many of the decisions I made back then clearly show that! It’s not that I never believed in God, I did, think I always have in some way – you know that sort of feeling close to something spiritual out in the countryside, or for me it was at the beach, I always felt close to God by the sea. And I was brought up going to church too, but I guess I never really got it for myself. So at this time of year I like to remember what life was like before and to be so thankful to God for all he has done in our lives. You see at the same time, in fact it’s 3 years ago today for my husband, he also committed his life to God.
I have published my testimony (the story of how I found God) before but being our anniversary and being the time of year that it is, I thought I’d do it again, and this is a new blog and all, and has a different readership, so if you are interested this is what happened to us. It’s a pretty long read (and this is just the basic version!) but there you go….
I was brought up in a Christian family. From a young age we went to church and Sunday School and my father was involved in various roles at the church. I was baptised and later confirmed at age 14. A few years later I started going to a youth group with a friend at another church and I think this was the beginning of my journey with God, I certainly had questions and I wanted to know more (although the boys at the youth group had a certain pull too and in fact one of them is now my husband…!)
At 19 I went travelling and didn’t go to church for some years. I did the typical teenage thing of ‘going off the rails’ and got into all sorts of things that I am not proud of. That said, those things have made me the person I am today and if I hadn’t been there maybe I wouldn’t now be following God. We are all the sum of our lives so far and I know the things I went though in those years have made me the person I am today. So, anyway, I gave up my uni place and went travelling. Although God was often in the back of my mind I pretty much ignored him during this time. I did lots of very stupid things (drugs, sleeping with people, generally being very careless and foolish) and looking back it makes me shudder to think of the path I was on. I don’t want to make this seem worse than it was, I wasn’t an addict and certainly wasn’t at deaths door but I was on a destructive path, I didn’t really care about myself. I was very insecure and had issues with not eating too, which didn’t help.
To cut this long part of the story short, I ended up pregnant, a long way from home. Despite my situation I knew I could not have an abortion, I just wouldn’t even consider it – from the very second I found out I was pregnant I knew I would have the child. Looking back I think that it was meant to be, and considering the many factors surrounding both our relationship and how we lived, it is a miracle I even got pregnant and a miracle the baby was born healthy and happy.I actually ended up coming home and settling near my family, who despite initial reservations (that’s a bit of an understatement…) were very supportive. I started to go back to church and actually got involved a bit with it, everyone there was very helpful and lovely. But still I think I felt I ought to go and not that I wanted to because of any belief.
A few years later I got together with an old friend, we fell in love, subsequently got married and had more kids. We continued at the same church and even got involved helping out, but my heart wasn’t in it and we rarely, if ever, talked about our faith. As I look back I’m not sure why or what I even believed over this time – I think I had some small measure of faith then but I was and continued to be plagued by doubts.
So finally, about 5 years ago I made the decision to stop going to church. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had been confused for so long and the final straw was the thought that my children would go through the same as me – constantly wondering whether God was real or what to believe. That had plagued my life and I didn’t want them to go through that too.
On top of that we were actually going through a really tough time in our relationship too. That year was not a good year for us! I felt we were drifting apart, I couldn’t see us apart but we certainly weren’t together. Neither of us could see any way out of the situation unless something changed, and yet nothing could change.
I had been going to yoga for about 10 years and after effectively ‘giving up’ on a Christian God I started to ask my yoga teacher about going on yoga retreats, doing meditations etc, generally I guess I was looking for answers elsewhere. I began to embrace this and having always thought of myself as a ‘bit bohemian’ and being rather arty I felt comfortable that it fitted with me and my lifestyle.
…and that is when God showed up!
At this time we were planning an extension on our house and we became friendly with most of the builders, one in particular. I remember one day him saying he would tell me his story when we had time. A few days later (and the timing was totally lousy – the house was really at its worst point with stuff everywhere, my son was ill, I was due to leave imminently to drop him at my mums etc) he started sharing his testimony with me.
It’s fair to say, this changed my life. It was totally full on, right from the word go. I had never heard this kind of Christian testimony before, a real warts and all approach with such amazing experiences. I was completely blown away. Over the next few days and weeks he spoke to me more about his faith and what he had experienced. Some of it was really hard to believe, real ‘supernatural’ stuff and talk of Satan, the force of evil, demons and so on. In all the years I had been to church I had never heard anything vaguely approaching this. I wasn’t even sure I believed in hell. But I needed to hear this – My approach to anything in life is not to do anything by halves, I want to know everything about a subject and do tasks with my all. Now, I was totally overwhelmed but couldn’t get enough at the same time. Prior to this I was one of those who thought that if I lived a good life and did the ‘right’ thing I would be going to heaven. How wrong I was! I didn’t even really know that the only way to God was through Jesus. I had always been confused about God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit and all I needed was someone to explain it to me really!
Anyway I can’t remember how long this went on for (but a few weeks I guess) and I gradually started asking more questions – things I had always had difficulty with or things I wanted to ask more about. I know at times I must have been a right pain in the butt, just asking all these questions and often not accepting his answers, disputing things, but during this time a few things started to happen to make me think more about it all. There were way too many ‘coincidences’ for me not to believe. Eventually he just said to me ‘I think we should pray together’ and that’s when I said the Sinners Prayer (a dedicating of ones life to God) on 16th December and gave my life to Jesus, surrounded by chaos, screaming kids and the clutter of life – but it was perfect – that is what my life is like anyway and God knows that! Then the very next day I led my husband in the sinners prayer too, and shortly after that we started attending a local church – but this time one that is perfect for us. At the time I wrote this:
‘I know that I am saved. That I am starting a relationship with God, that I have a new life, I am reborn. I don’t recognise myself most of the time but it is the most awesome feeling! I know that my life has purpose, in fact I almost feel a bit smug some days that I know this great secret that others don’t know. I wish everyone could know it, if only it were so simple…’
And the thing is, it IS simple! And amazing and wonderful and transforming and overwhelming, and sometimes hard, but I hope I will never look back, never walk any other path than this one because it is absolutely the best!
If you are reading this and have questions I am more than happy to answer them, please leave me a comment or tweet me @redjules or if you know me personally just collar me when you see me!