I received an email from a reader who was curious to know about my faith. She has seen bits and pieces where I speak about God yet also noticed I have only recently gone to church.
I was simply going to reply to her email and that be it, however, I realised that perhaps if I had have read my story from the outside, I might have been inspired to change things sooner than I did - so I wanted to tell you my faith story too.
Please, read this with an open mind - I accept that you may not believe the same and that's perfectly fine, so please respect that my opinion and my journey may be entirely different than yours and there's nothing wrong with that. We are all entitled to our own beliefs just as we are all entitled to choose how we act or what haircut we have or what foods we love to eat.
I don't come from a Christian family, yet my faith is incredibly strong. My mum, my dad and my sister all do not believe in a God of any form. How can you believe when you're surrounded by non believers? Well, I guess that you remember that it's okay to be different.
I haven't always been so close to God. As a child I went to religious education/scripture classes on Tuesdays - but whilst it made me think a little bit, it didn't make a huge impact, they just weren't getting all the way through. It wasn't until I got to high school that I wanted to know more.
My faith had always been a private thing... I wanted to make up my own mind, I wanted to learn myself, I didn't like how some people spoke about their faith and beliefs in a way that was condescending to others. So I started to read the bible and I started to investigate. I've always been that way. If I hear something mumbled in conversation but don't know what it is, I'll go home and research it - I just like to know things and this was the same.
My biggest turning point came at the absolute hardest point in my life. I was struggling with crippling anxiety, I was become withdrawn and depressed - I was told by doctors that I would never be a normal functioning human being without medication. So I got that script filled - and I never took a single pill.
It didn't feel right - I knew there was another option. My heart and my soul needed healing and medication wasn't going to fix that. I remember that night, curled up in bed, I cried out to God. What I said probably wasn't entirely comprehensive but I poured my heart out. I asked Him for answers, I asked him for protection, I wanted a fix - and then I remembered something:
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me"
I remembered that we weren't created to fear and that God will handle our fears and insecurities. So I prayed, I asked The Lord to take my anxiety and my fear, I asked him to walk with me and show me the way because I didn't know where to go.
Now it sounds incredibly cliched and I agree with you, but things started to turn around. Things changed. I changed.
But that's not all of the story. Whilst my faith continued to grow and strengthen - I wanted more. For years I had kept my faith somewhat of a secret, if I spoke of my beliefs to my family and friends they changed the subject or gave me a look that said "yeah, she's lost it". I knew many pushy "Bible bashing" Christians and that wasn't what I wanted to be so I hid my faith, thinking that I could keep it as something just for me.
But I wanted more.
I share everything with Jesse and my faith was also something I shared. Jesse didn't share my faith, he was pretty on the fence about God. But I found that some of my blogger friends (you'll know who you are and I love you so much for that!) who shared my faith - and I began opening up to them.
But I wanted more.
Gradually, Jesse wanted to know more too. I had never been to a Sunday church service - and to be honest, I was too scared to go on my own. So I prayed about it, I prayed that The Lord would give me an opportunity, I prayed that he might help me to show Jesse His light so that he might want to know more.
On October 20th, Jesse agreed to come to a church service with me at the church we were married in. But it wasn't the right fit - my heart sank. I thought my opportunity was gone, Jesse wouldn't want to go to church again - but that wasn't the case. My faith has stirred something in Jesse and he wanted to know more.
We wanted more.
We didn't go back to that church, but we kept on looking. After returning from our honeymoon, on November 24th, we went to a new church closer to home - our church.
I had been praying for weeks, praying that this church would be the right one for us, praying that something would stir in Jesse during the service.
And oh how my prayers were answered.
We immediately felt welcomed in the church - people wanted to talk to us and get to know us, unlike the previous church where the people around us were cold and in inviting.
During the sermon, Craig was talking about growth as Christians - and also how people can twist the scriptures to mean whatever they wanted. It was then that I saw Jesse's facial expression change - it was like watching someone have an a-ha moment.
After the service and after coffee, Jesse affirmed my observation - that sermon had spoken to him. He told me he wanted to come back - and my heart couldn't be happier.
We found our church and in the last 3 weeks we've found made new friends - our brothers and sisters in Christ. We've felt accepted and we've made friends and we've come closer to God - and spiritually we've come closer together too.
But this isn't just about my faith story - it's about telling you that you shouldn't let fear or anxiety stop you in anything that you do - and you should never be afraid of being different.
I have created my own faith. I went against what my family believed because I believed different. I went against what my friends believed because I believed different. And being different was the best decision I ever made. Not just in my faith but in my life in general.
Step outside your comfort zone - take a risk - go with what you believe in, whatever it is.
This post is probably rambly, and it might not even make sense - but I just wanted to share. I would really love it if you too could share how stepping outside of your comfort zone has changed things for you as you might just inspire someone to do the same - yet I also understand that many readers don't have the time to leave a comment (but be assured we LOVE when you do). If you're a Christian I would love for you to share your own faith too.
I also know that there are many readers who know they live close to Jesse and I - so if you do and you'd like to come visit our church, please let us know - we'd love for you to join us. If you're not close by, but want to chat about anything please be sure to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if this post is rambling and incoherent - do excuse me, this is just me stepping outside of my comfort zone because this is something I never thought I'd be able to post. <3