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Another guest post for you today. In this one Rachel of Rachel in Real Life shares her experience of growing up a Christian and then walking away from her faith and rediscovering it a decade later. What a difference ten years makes! You can catch up with Rachel on Twiiter too - @Rachel_IRL.
One of my earliest memories is of the day that I became a Christian. I was around six years old and it was the day of my mum's baptism. I can remember knowing what it meant to commit my life to Jesus and being absolutely sure that it was what I wanted. Although my dad never went to church he certainly never stopped any of us from going or made us feel uncomfortable for doing so.
I was baptised when I was 14 and went on to help to run a youth group at 18. By 19/20 I had left the church and my faith behind. There wasn't a single event that made me leave but an accumulation of events and feelings. I never really felt as though I was a part of the church or that I had any friends there. Everyone seemed to be a better Christian than me, loved God more, were more holy, doing everything right, they were happy while I had started my battle with depression, a battle that would continue for years to come.
My mum also felt unsupported which certainly influenced me. My mum died when I was 21 and neither myself nor my siblings felt as though we had much support from the church although I guess that was probably because her own attendance had dropped in the months prior to her death. I then spent 10 years not really knowing where I was at as a Christian. I still believed in God but I couldn't say with a great deal of conviction that I had a faith. I still believed in heaven but I couldn't be sure that I would be going there and I didn't know what that meant for me.
Last year, after my youngest sister arranged for lifts for me, I attended an Alpha course and I started to go to her church. During the first four weeks of my going there, I cried during every service. I came out with panda eyes and tear-stained cheeks, the husband would ask me what had happened and I simply couldn't explain but somehow, I knew I had felt just something of God's love for me. Earlier this year I had major surgery and was in hospital twice. A lot of people who go to the church got in touch, offering support and love and seemed to be genuinely pleased for me when I was back on my feet. People I have known only a short while have asked me how I am recovering and continue to ask after my health each week.
What's the difference between now and over 10 years ago? Jesus has become personal to me and in the church I now attend I don't feel like I have to pretend to be filled with the Holy Spirit all of the time or to be immensely grateful 24/7. I have a thirst for more knowledge that I never had before and I am active in the church again, this time working with young children.
There are, of course, difficulties. Jesus never promised us that a life following him would be easy, in fact he promised just the opposite. For me, the biggest challenge is that my husband isn't a Christian and doesn't ever come to church with me. A few months ago we attended a dedication and he enjoyed that service, even telling me he almost responded to ask for prayer but he didn't. Just this morning he said he might come along then decided against it. Unfortunately the service would have been the perfect message for him to hear but I have to trust that there will be another opportunity.
My son comes along sometimes and I get upset when he doesn't, when he would rather stay at home with daddy because he does have fun when he goes. The husband is however very supportive of me attending church and of my Christian values. Despite not going himself he always tries to encourage our son to come along (sometimes he will even say he has to work when he doesn't, I'm not sure what God would make of that!) and he drives me the 20 minutes each way and picks me up because I can't drive myself.
While Sunday mornings may be a bit of a write off for the husband being my personal chauffeur, our home life is actually a lot better. Yes I have changed as God has worked in me but so has the husband and I can see God working in him too, even though he may not even realise it. Despite being 32 years old, I still find it difficult to admit that I am a Christian. Sure it is easy enough to tick the box on a questionnaire but it isn't something I particularly bring up in conversations. We are viewed as "Bible bashers" or "weird" for having a "religion".
The Christianity I know isn't full of rules and regulations and orders and religious practises but is one of love and simplicity. No Christian is any closer to God than another, none of us has sinned any worse than another despite what the laws of the land might say. Nothing I can do can make God love me any more or any less. I don't have to pray 10 times a day, offer myself as a sacrifice or convert people; He already loves me as I am, He always has and He always will.
Thanks so much for sharing Rachel, it sounds as if the recent leg of your journey has been a good one, I pray you continue to find great joy in your faith and that your husband will come to share it too.
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