Converting to Christianity

Summer 2020

Lockdown was hard for basically everyone in the UK. I struggled, especially with the lack of physical contact and the sense of community. I require a lot of attention from different sources to thrive. Seeing friends and family at such distance felt like torture and would leave me feeling more anxious and alone. I needed to find something to occupy my weeks, to stimulate my mind and spirit. I could feel the beginnings of a deep depression setting in, something I have battled since my adolescence.

I have felt a constant emptiness, a missing piece that I have tried to rationalise. I am a scientist by education and training, and I always considered myself too reasoned and logical to believe in God. In the past I was terrified what people would think of me, that they would mock me but then I felt God’s love. I believe unconditional love was my missing piece, the love that can only come through God.

What would I ask God?

I decided to try a long-distance Alpha course hosted through my local church. I was coming in at best as a sceptical agnostic at worse as a close-minded atheist. The first thing we were asked after the much too cheery introduction video that made sweeping statements and gross generalisations was:

“If God was here in this room right now what would you ask?”

I didn’t need to think about it, as a woman there is something that causes me great pain and discomfort every month like clockwork.

“Why do women have periods?”

The poor Alpha leader was not expecting that. It’s important though, periods are a key ingredient to bring forth new life – but they hurt, they are embarrassing and, in many cultures and religions around the world, they are used as a stick to subjugate half of the population. So, I want to know – Why? The elderly gentleman leading our course had clearly not thought about this before and wasn’t able to give me an answer. It is a question I intend to come back to later in my journey – for now it has a pin in it.

Unconditional Love

As the weeks went on, I started to become more frustrated the videos continued to make generalisations, I continued to get hung up on points of intellectual debate and clearly, I was missing something – faith.

A constant topic was the unconditional love of God, but I have never (or very rarely) experienced unconditional love. On top of this they kept talking about The Father, another concept I cannot readily identify with. It made the whole thing seem unobtainable, mythical, almost non-sensical. I was beginning to despair.

At the start of Alpha I had begun to pray, really pray and to read the Bible. I prayed to understand, to hear God, to feel that love. I prayed for mundane things too and I could see those prayers being answered, but still I could not feel God’s presence. I still did not know what unconditional love felt like.

My Revelation

During a video towards the end of the course we were shown a painting: The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt along with the passage from Revelations:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”

Revelations 3:20

The image is of Jesus knocking at a closed door in the dark, there is no handle and so Jesus cannot let himself in to bestow divine light, I interpret that as love, on the occupants. I wanted desperately to feel that love. I wanted to open that door.

As the video progressed I prayed:

“Lord please send the Holy Spirit to guide me, so that I can open my heart you know and know the weight of your love. I am ready. I know I don’t need to understand anything please let me feel your unconditional love”

Immediately after that prayer I felt that love. An overwhelming crushing acceptance. I fell from my chair to the floor and wept with joy. I knew that whatever mistakes I may make, however broken and undeserving I thought of myself, I was loved. Utterly and completely. I was not alone, I did not need all the answers, I knew that something bigger than anything I can comprehend loved me. I could barely breathe. The members of my Alpha call were concerned for me and I went to see my husband in the kitchen. I expected him to freak out and be overwhelmed with worry and anxiety but he didn’t react like that at all. He held me close, stroked my hair and cracked a ridiculous joke turning my tears to laughter.

I knew from that moment I was a Christian. I didn’t understand much then and I still don’t, but I have come to accept that I will never have many of the answers. I was afraid of telling people, that they would mock me or assume it was something to do with my mental health condition, but I know the truth and over time they have come to accept that this is my truth and respect my outlook.

God Bless E.M.

The Light of the World – William Holman Hunt

What do I believe?

This is a declaration of what I, as a Christian in the UK, believe at this moment. I am new and I think ignorant, but I don’t view that as a hinderance to my faith or believe that my opinions should be discredited on account of it. Jesus instructed us to be like little children. When I think of children, I see them trust without all the facts, they want to understand but accept that they don’t or cannot understand everything, they express their emotions and are authentic. God wants us to be like that. To trust, to be authentic and to accept that we cannot have all the answers.

I haven’t included any references in this blog because these are my beliefs built up throughout my life but considered much more deeply over the last year. I have no firm idea of where I fit within the Christian Church here in Britain and this is the first step towards me trying to figure that out.

I am not trying to upset or discredit anyone directly, but I do wish to state where I sit on the following topics.

Love

God loves us all unconditionally. That means that even though we fall short God loves us. Even when we think someone is not worthy of love, God loves them. What we have is the choice to accept or reject that love. Rejection hurts God just as it hurts us when we are rejected in life. Accepting the offer of that love, acknowledging that we cannot perfectly follow God and need something given by God’s grace to make up the distance leads to salvation. I believe that true love is a beautiful gift from God and that it is perfect between two adults.

Salvation

God bridged the gap between our behaviour and what God expects by being born to a woman as a man named Jesus Christ. Jesus grew up and as a man was baptised and went on to sacrifice himself to redeem us of our sin and allow us to access God’s love and The Kingdom of Heaven.

The Trinity

God exists in three parts but is one being. There is God as The Lord, a parental figure guiding and desiring the best for us acting as both the nurturing and critical parent. There is God as humankind, Jesus the Son of God born by a remarkable woman, Mary, who redeemed us all in the eyes of God. He was able to connect with us on physical level and gave us the Gospels. He taught us how to move past the Old Testament Law so that everyone could come to experience God’s love and grace. Finally, the Holy Spirit, I see this like a child enabling us to be curious, to feel our emotions and God’s presence in the moment. To spur us to action and give us the little push we need to be brave.

Communion

To me the last supper was an invitation for us to remember and thank God for the redemption we were gifted. I think it is a metaphor and that Communion can be celebrated at home with friends over any food or drink not just bread (or wafers) and wine (or grape juice). I think any Christian that believe Jesus came and sacrificed himself through Gods will to save us can lead a ‘communion’ the important part is to thank God for the gifts we have been given.

Organised Religion

Jesus is the head of the Church and any that believe in him have the right to be a member of that Church and spread what is truly fantastic news. We are all priests in that regard. I believe God has gifted some with ability to share the truth of God’s News more effectively than others. I also believe that there is a place for structure particularly as things grow in size. I can’t get away from the fact that Jesus spent a lot of time throwing religious leaders out of their temples though. I think the devil can lay many traps for those in religious authority and that we need to be very careful when considering what is truly important to God and therefore what should be important to us. I do not think anyone should be kept from a position of authority within a Church on grounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, or any other label. God made all of us in their image. It is ludicrous to pick one label over another. God is the I Am, God is all things, all peoples. To discriminate against a particular label discriminates against a part of God.

That’s all I have in me for now. I really welcome your thoughts, feedback, comments, advice, and most of all your prayers. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I urge you to be polite in your feedback even if you have taken great offence to or been angered by what is written. I am always learning and always willing to listen to those that state their point without hate or malice.

God bless you and keep you,

E.M.