I was not born, or raised a Christian.
Far from it in fact.
No, I was born and raised in a household where a belief in God and his son, Jesus was strange and foolish.
I wasn’t taught to seek, trust, believe or have a relationship with God and his son who died for me.
But that didn’t matter because against all odds, I did.
For some strange and unknown reason I had total trust and Faith in God as a young child and pre-teen.
I remember asking my mother in junior school if she could take me to an evening club where I could learn about Jesus and the stories in the Bible. I loved this club and absorbed the stories with excitement and total fascination. My mother, however, did not love it and blamed my school for ‘drumming religion into me.’ Odd, I always thought as I rarely remember my school mentioning God, other than while singing hymns in assembly, and at Christmas or Easter.
My earliest memory acknowledging God was actually in primary school, on the playground. Curled up in a ball on the floor I told myself it didn’t matter if I had no friends because God was always with me.
As an adult it both baffles and impresses me that I never wavered or doubted that God was real and that he loved me, even with my families opposition and taunts. Not to mention my complete lack of access to information about God at that time.
Pre-teens was very much the same, however now I found myself experimenting and exploring new things. Things which caused my spirit to stir in the night and wake me, racked with guilt and unease. I would sit in my room, praying for God to forgive me.
Yes, God was always in my heart, although by this point I had learned to keep my faith to myself and not discuss it with anyone from fear of shame and embarrassment. I would hear, “How could anyone be naive and gullible enough to believe in an imaginary man in the sky that no one has ever seen?”, “Everyone knows the Bible is written by man and only used to control people!”
Have you ever heard the saying ‘If you say something enough times it becomes truth.’ Well that includes lies.
Lies fed to us consistently and often begin to seep in, like a disease slowly mutating our healthy cells and making us sick.
By the time I was 12 years old I considered myself a Wiccan and renounced anything other than the belief I was a witch and could cast spells with my friend. I vividly remember the words ‘I’d rather go to hell as it will be more fun, heaven is for goody too-shoes and is boring!” Coming out of my young and impressionable mouth.
I’m pleased, and very grateful this phase lasted little more than a few months!
By 14 I was ‘just like everyone else.’ Desperate to fit in I no longer believed in anything beyond ‘science’ and our famous 5 senses. No more shame or embarrassment for me! No sir’y, I didn’t believe in that imaginary man in the sky anymore like some stupid person! I could listen to people slam God without unease and overwhelming conviction to defend him.
Looking back I can see my lack of faith turned me sour towards those who were ‘Stupid enough to actually believe in that imaginary friend in the sky and who is the cause of every war in history!’ Like all diseases, in order for it to survive it must multiply, spread and infect others. I was now fully infected and highly contagious. Spreading doubt, anger, criticism and judgement.
Despite my teenage years I now know that no matter what you do, you cannot escape Gods love.
At 15 years old God sent an angel to me in the form of a best friend, Mo, who blessed me with her kindness, compassion and unconditional love. Mo’s Dad was a vicar who although never pushed religion onto his daughter had never hidden it from her either. At 15 Mo was very much unsure about God, something that deep within my heart and soul I resonated with. And seeing as Mo was neither a Christian or Atheist, but somewhere in between, I found her inoffensive enough to befriend.
This has honestly been one of the biggest blessings of my life.
Over the 15 years Mo and I have been friends she has blessed my life continuously and often, the exact counter measure needed to unravel years of lies and shame, and gently bring me back to God.
Something that I have up until this point avoided to include is that my faith as a young child was not the only battle I faced at home with my family.
I was the eldest of 3 daughters, born to my mother’s first husband, adopted by her 2nd. Different from the start and always unaccepted by my mother’s 2nd husband, Rod.
Rod liked us to be seen by the outside world as one big happy family, but this couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Rod was very abusive to my mother and all us children. Controlling, manipulative and without remorse Rod would shout, scream, punch, kick, and drag us by our hair into submission.
His worst punishment’s reserved for the outcast of the family, me.
Constant reminders that I was “a foreigner and don’t belong in this family”, ‘ugly, disgusting and worthless’ we’re always implied with every insult and became normal things for me to hear and accept about myself.
I was segregated from my mother, not allowed to sit next to her without invoking a jealous rage from Rod.
I was forbidden to sit on my Nan’s lap so pulled away from her in fear of punishment when I got home.
Worst yet was the sexual abuse from him and his brother.
And that no one believed me.
I first told my mother around age 5 what Rod and his brother were doing to me.
My mother later told me as a teenager that she had spoken to Rod about it which was “the reason he treated you so badly growing up, he said you lied.”
At 18 I realised my mother would never leave so I ran away to escape the prison Rod had built for me.
By this point he had become extremely possessive and would interrogate me for hours when I came home from seeing my friends. He began asking me to have his children, even telling my mother and sisters one afternoon: “it’s not incest if it’s a father and daughter is it?”
It’s important to also mention that Rods brother went to prison for paedophilia, unrelated to me and yet, I was still never believed.
To this day I do not have a relationship with my mother as she chose to stand by Rod in court over her children and my sisters ended up in foster care.
I’m not telling you this for your pity but merely to explain where I have come from and what I have overcome to be where I am today.
My journey has been challenging but it is a true testament to the immense power, faithfulness and love of God. I can look back and see the moments when God was with me, holding my hand, cradling me in his arms and I didn’t even realise he was there.
When I lost my faith as a teenager and believed more than ever the lies spoken over me I can see that God put a plan into motion. A plan where 14 years later, in 2017 I attended an alpha course at Mo’s house, and in 2018 I was baptised a born again Christian.
At the age of 28 I chose to give myself to Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with him of my own free will.
The journey has been hard, and painful at times but I stand here today, in all honesty a new creation.
I received prophetic word one year ago that I would grow in faith and confidence and that the things that have held me down for so long would fall away from me.
At the time I thought it sounded too good to be true but ever loyal and true to his word, at the start of 2019 God fulfilled his promise to me. I awoke a totally transformed person with a sudden shift in my heart and soul.
I finally had peace, confidence, boldness and a new outlook on life. I became less afraid than I have been in my entire life.
Becoming a Christian has sent huge ripples through every aspect of my life and the life of those I love.
My relationship with my partner, my son, and my family is more loving, forgiving, caring, calmer, and much less self centred around protecting myself from being hurt.
My mind, body, soul and life are so much healthier now I’m free from all the pain that concreted me down in the depths of hell for so long.
Free to live, free to love, free to try, free to fail, free to succeed, free from self-destruction, free from crippling anxiety and depression, free from tearing down everything I love through fear people would realised I wasn’t good enough and leave me. I’m free to believe in myself and know my worth, free to worship God and feel joy, free from suffocating jealousy and free to live without endless pain and regret.
So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.