My challenge now is – where do I start with this strange story of conversion? I guess I should KISS (keep is simple stupid) and start at the beginning. So - this is the path that I walked from there to here.
My parents were not “religious” but nevertheless sent me to Sunday School when I was small and then at the age of 7 I was enrolled into a Convent School where we had a half hour bible reading every morning + a weekly Mass. I was especially entranced with the stories of Jesus, who seemed to step out of the “norm” by befriending sinners and being critisised for doing miracles on the Sabbath. I hadn’t got a clue what that meant, but it seemed to me to be a very curious and “different” thing to do. I also like the chanted Latin Mass. It made by feel “funny” inside.
This was the extent of my young spiritual life apart from my weird liking for Churches. I would sometimes take myself off to a service, but was distracted by the talking and singing and preferred to simply sit in an empty Church and soak up “something” that I couldn’t explain.
Let me fast track you through until I was in my early 30’s. I married, had 2 children, divorced and met my second husband Davy (boom, boom). He was an alcoholic and 18 months into our relationship he joined AA and I joined Al-Anon.
I found the Al-anon programme enlightening, especially the bit about believing in a “Higher Power”. Despite my innate “spirituality” I had always struggled with the idea of God. It was too fantastical, but this “Higher Power” concept was something that I could cling on too. Why? Don’t ask me! I have no idea!
I grew in the programme, met some wonderful people and worked the 12 steps to the best of my ability. I should probably explain that the 12 steps were written by the first 100 members of AA as part of the “AA Big Book”, who thought that it was essential to write down how they had become and remained sober.
Davy and I made good friends, went bowling with them on a Saturday night, had BBQ’s, visited each other’s houses, had “pot luck” dinners and, compared to the chaos of active alcoholism, life was brilliant.
One day a very close American friend of mine recommended that I read “A Man Called Peter” a book written by Catherine Marshall. It was the true story of her husband Peter Marshall a young Scot who emigrated to America and told the story of how he had followed God's leading, all the way to the chaplaincy of the U.S. Senate. My private response was, “No thank you, I have no interest in reading Christian books”.
HOWEVER, a couple of years after my friend returned home to America I found this very same book on my mantelpiece! Where it had come from I never did find out, but I read it. It’s a very tender and perceptive account of her husband's love for life, for her, and for God. It moved me, but, as they say, at that time, didn’t float my boat!
Another book that was doing the rounds in the fellowship was “Mr God, This is Anna”. Another profoundly moving book but this time I felt that Anna’s God felt more like the God of my understanding. I was convinced that He loved dancing and joy. Not the boring old stuffy things I had witnessed in Church.
My perception of God was gradually shifting from being a dyed in the wool atheist to a “maybe there IS something in this”. This morning I read this. “ Too often we try to use God to change our circumstance, when God is trying to use our circumstance to change us.” This certainly seemed to be the case with me, but I still had a ways to go. Stubborn, or what!?