Becoming a Christian
I became a Christian November 2003 after being prompted to consider religion by my boyfriend Iain (who is now my husband). He has been a Christian for a long time and has always gone to church and been brought up in a Christian family. He really wanted me to form a view point on religion as up until that point it was a subject I had never given much thought to. If anyone had asked me I would say I didn't believe in God but for no other reason than I had no real reason to believe in him.
We were both at university at this time so during the summer holidays I did a lot of thinking and research. I was worried that if I did decide I believed in God that people would think it was only because Iain was a Christian and I was worried that that may be true. I really wanted to approach the whole thing with an open mind and to come to a conclusion that was based on something other than a desire to make Iain happy (and that is what I managed to do). Over the summer I read a couple of books on Christianity, spoke to different people about their views (both Christians and non Christians) and asked a lot of questions. Iain had a tough time trying to find answers that satisfied me to questions such as, "if there is a God why is there so much suffering in the world?", "how do you know you're right and all the other world religions are wrong?", and "how do you live with the idea friends and family that don't believe in God will not go to heaven?".
The more I read and questioned the harder it became to argue against Christianity but I still couldn't accept it as being true, I still doubted that among other things a great and powerful God would let so much suffering and pain go on in the world. Also to believe in God and Christianity would turn my world upside down and change so many things, and I just couldn't accept that.
While at home in the summer I went to church on my own, just once to see what it felt like, to see if it felt like God was there. I must admit that secretly I hoped something amazing would happen so that I knew for sure there was a God and then it would be easy. I wanted to go on my own because I didn't want Iain's presence to make a difference. The whole experience was very difficult, I felt very awkward and out of place, but I am very glad I went. Nothing amazing happened, but the whole experience made me sure that as far as my head was concerned Christianity was real, there was a great and powerful God who had plans for us all. The only problem then was that I didn't feel it in my heart, I still couldn't accept that it was really true.
So, when I came back to Edinburgh Iain and I went to the student Alpha course and started going to church on Sundays. I found the alpha meetings very useful as a way of learning lots of the basics about Christianity, but they wouldn't for me have made me become a Christian on their own (I don't think! but who knows!). At times I found they made me feel very awkward and uncomfortable and like I didn't fit in. A lot of that is just me, as I don't like group activities and sometimes felt that for me there was too much too soon. However saying that anyone who is reading this and thinking about Christianity I would strongly recommend that you go along with an open mind and see what happens. I'm glad I went even though it was a difficult experience at times and I don't want to discourage anyone else from going. I am just trying to write here as honestly as I can the process I went through in becoming a Christian.
So what made the difference for me, it was at church one Sunday morning and I was feeling very disheartened and fed up. There was Holy Communion and I was unsure what to do, I didn't want to take the bread and wine without believing what it stood for and yet I didn't want to not. I was still at the point where in my head I believed in Christianity, but I still didn't in my heart, for whatever reason I just couldn't accept Christianity was true. So at the start of the service I said a prayer. I basically said to God that I had had enough, I didn't know what else I could do and that I was going to give up after today because I just couldn't see what was going to make me feel any different. I didn't expect this prayer to make a difference it was just a moment of frustration and despair, but something did happen something amazing. I can't put in to words what that service was like for me I haven't even been able to explain to Iain. It was something personal and special, and has completely changed my life. After that service I told Iain that I believed in God and we said a prayer together and I became a Christian. For me it was a very definite point in my life, I know it is not like that for everyone but I am just telling my story.
Becoming a Christian is the most amazing thing that has happened in my live and I want to share that with others. Lots of things have changed since then and my life is completely different. I no longer struggle trying to cope in the world on my own because I trust in the Lord and when things are hard I prayer for his help and guidance. I am not saying that everything is easy and perfect in my life (it would be nice!) and certainly not all of the changes that have occurred have been easy, but just knowing that God is there makes all of lifes hurdles and challenges more bearable. I realise that everyone's experiences are different, but if what I have written here helps anyone then that is a great thing. What I would say to anyone considering religion is to start with an open mind and then to look at all the arguments for and against, speak to lots of different people and go along to church a few times, and see what happens. If you had asked me in 2002 if I would ever believe in God I would have laughed and said " No way! "
To be completed.