The first thing to say about my faith journey is that the longer I travel, the more I realise just how much further I have to go, but to simply trust in God’s enduring love, timescale and pace.
I was brought up in the Christian faith, my Roman Catholic Dad taking my brother and I to mass every Sunday without fail, even on holiday. We were blessed with warm, funny and earnest priests, and I remember feeling a sense of peace and security in that church, as I let the words and music wash over me.
I married young in a big Catholic wedding in the church of my childhood. When that short-lived marriage ended it shook my foundations and challenged everything I held to be true about life and love. I became more and more disillusioned with the Catholic church after my divorce, eventually losing my faith completely.
I soon found another partner but shunned the idea of marriage, and spent the next 12 years drifting further from God, identifying as an atheist. We had a beautiful daughter but the relationship was not rooted in the kind of love that it should have been, and I became increasingly unhappy. By the time our daughter was nearly 2 the relationship was in a state of emergency.
At around that time I was invited to attend a family church service but politely declined “I’m not a church goer, I don’t believe in God”. Coming from a Catholic background, the reply took me by surprise “that’s OK, come anyway”, I accepted this kind, unconditional offer and spent the next 7 years attending that church. The people I met there were instrumental in helping and supporting me whilst I left my relationship, gently pointing me back to the source of love I really needed in my life. Being an atheist finding their way back to God in an evangelical church was a truly humbling experience. If there was one type of Christian that had most warranted my mirth and ridicule it was the evangelical type. But God – as I continue to discover to my endless joy – has a wicked sense of humour!
As I grew in faith I realised that the deeper I experienced God in my life, the more mystery I uncovered, and the quieter and stiller I needed to be to hear God. I still loved the charismatic and extroverted style of worship at my church but more and more I felt drawn to a quieter and more Catholic style of worship, and one in which I could allow myself to develop as the person God wants me to be, with questions, uncertainty and open mindedness.