This post is one that I have deliberated the most about writing. It has taken me much courage, thought and planning to write. Some of you I know will be shocked. Some of you will judge and make your own negative remarks. But this post, may be the most important one I write and the most heart felt…
I grew up in a standard rural Northern Irish household. I was christened as an infant, attended Sunday school and Girls Brigade, went to the Good News Club in primary school and participated in the ‘special’ church services such as Harvest, Remembrance Sunday and Children’s Day. I remember as a child confessing my sins with child like faith as I thought I needed to. Telling God I was sorry, asking him to forgive me, then carrying on with my life as normal. Nothing truly changed.
When I became a teenager I began with daily bible readings that I obtained from a youth leader in school. I studied my bible hard and took a real, honest interest in God. Then my faith got thrown off the train tracks…
Being a December baby, at the start of the school year I was 12, due to turn 13 within a few months. The youth fellowship in my family church was for all secondary school children from 2nd year/ age 13, and commenced every year in September. So once September hit, I rocked up, full of enthusiasm and ready to roll. I remember climbing the stairs, opening the door of the red room and being faced with the faces of 3 of my peers. I smiled and before I could introduce myself was greeted with the words “you aren’t old enough to be here.” I explained the scenario with my school year/ age and that everyone else in my school year was attending but they weren’t interested. Leaving me to trundle back down the stairs to wait for 2 hours on the steps for mum to come back and lift me- remember this was before the time of mobile phones.
That night was the last night I entered the Church Hall bar for refreshments after a funeral. I left all church organizations and couldn’t get the bitter taste of rejection out of my mouth nor those words out of my head. God then got pushed out, not even to the back seat, but right out the window. I had no interest in faith or the church.
Many years passed and it then came the time of wedding bells. I knew my own family and my husband to be’s family both wished for a traditional church wedding, so off we went to see the minister. Given this was Spring time and we weren’t getting married until September I was expecting a grilling. I was expecting to be told we needed to attend church and redeem our faith to be married. But instead, I was given a costings list for the day, told not to invite the minister to the wedding as he was too busy to go, and told “that’s grand, I’ll see you in September.” Dumbfounded and speechless; was this all the church had to offer me?
The wedding day passed in 2014. I couldn’t honestly tell you what our wedding sermon was even about. And since then my husband and I have never stepped over the door of that said church. Even better (or worse) we have bumped into the minister who married us on several occasions and he hasn’t spoken to us nor acknowledged us- I don’t think he even knows who we are! On our wedding day we may have been in the house of God, but God’s presence wasn’t something that I felt.
Married life followed as you would expect, and nearly 2 years passed before we were blessed with those 2 blue lines signalling little feet were on the way. And at only that point did God finally reappear in my mind… almost 14 years later.
Firstly I began to pray for those blue lines to appear. Believe it or not, at my wits end of despair I turned to prayer. I don’t know if I was clutching onto strings,m or what made me pray. But I did. And God answered. When I look back on it, I realize I needed those 2 years. We needed those 2 years. Our marriage needed those 2 years. 2 years of house decorating , living together for the first time ever and learning to appreciate each others little quirks and quacks- even though at times we still drive each other crazy. Those blessed lines appeared not in my time, but in God’s time.
“Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”
We then decided since our family was growing, that it was the time to find our own church. Truthfully I also felt it was the least I could do after God had listened to my prayers. But as well we wanted our own family church. Not one associated with any of our families, but one to call our own. So on Remembrance Sunday 2016 we attended our new home for the first time. And to this date, I could tell you everything that was preached in that sermon. And nearly ever sermon we attended since then. It felt like it was just me, my husband, this little wriggly baby in my tummy and the minister. The surroundings disappeared, and this time around my faith felt different. I can’t tell you why, but it was different.
The months that followed that date were difficult. A broken down car, a family illness and money worries to name a few all rose before Christmas. I remember sitting at the kitchen table in tears and thinking why is this happening? I have found my faith, why are you doing this? Is God testing me? Then this verse appeared on my Pinterest account and I knew it was a sign.
“Romans 8:18; The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming”
Our bambino was due at the end of January. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. But despite all efforts nothing was making baby move. So the time came for me to be induced. And for the first time in the 9 months of my pregnancy I was afraid. Bitterly afraid. I had planned for a low intervention birth in a community hospital and instead was being sent to a large hospital where I didn’t know the midwives to be started by intervention. This was not what I wanted. I did yoga, relaxation therapies, reflexology, hypnobirthing but nothing could shift that fear. Why was this happening? I had followed every rule of pregnancy down to the tea. My pregnancy was “textbook” as per the midwives. Why isn’t the birth following suit? The 2 weeks prior to my induction I think I cried more than I have in the last 2 years, but then there was a sign. Again I received a sign. Coincidence or not, this verse was printed on the Church news sheet.
“If God could close the mouths of lions for Daniel, part the Red Sea for Moses, make the sun stand still for Joshua, send ravens to feed Elijah, open a prison door for Peter, put a baby boy in the arms of Sarah, and raise Lazarus from the dead then He can certainly provide for you. You have no reason to despair or be hopeless today. Nothing you are facing today is too hard for Him to handle. Trust Him to take care of you just like He took care of everyone that came before you.”
I found the verse in a simpler version as a picture and I kept it- its the cover photo for this post. It became my phone screen saver. When I felt anxious or in despair I read it. I repeated it over in my head during the labour and birth. And do you know what? God took care of us. Despite emergency surgery, a cord prolapse and a huge blood loss, our beautiful baby boy arrived safely into this world on the 11th February and he is perfect in every way. God looked after me and him. He ensured I was in the right place for what was going to happen as a community hospital couldn’t have coped with the situation that evolved. And with God’s word I kept my calm- my heart rate never went over 98 despite the occurrences and no pain relief!
So that’s my story- my family, my faith and my fear all in one. I’m aware it’s a long post so thank you for reading. I don’t proclaim to be perfect. I don’t proclaim to be following a new lifestyle since November. But I know this, I am forever indebted for our beautiful baby boy and the love he has brought. And I know that this isn’t the end for my journey of faith, only the start….