I was brought up with God in my life. I went to Catholic primary and secondary school, also doing Performing Arts in a Catholic college (which I thought to be a wasted topic so dropped out after 8 months). I had been Christened, and followed this up with my Holy Communion. I did not go through with the Confirmation, at that age I was beginning to think "Why do I need yo' do these strict ceremonies to have a faith?!" and I rebelled a bit. I have never stopped believing in God, even if my faith has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
Whilst in Secondary school I attended mass every Friday, and my faith was apparent. Our priest was funny, he was rather young and used to play the banjo and sing a lot.
When my brother died, I did not go off the rails, or turn into an uncontrollable mess. I did however shut down a bit. If God was real why would he have let my brother do that to himself? If God was real why didn't he stop the pain I was feeling?
People treated me different after my brother died. I still wanted to be a teenager, why couldn't people just see that I was still me? I was still Kirsty! People did not need to smile that awkward smile whilst passing in the corridor. Just be normal, please!
Only weeks, maybe two months maximum, after my brother killed himself, I had a school tripped planned and booked to go to London. Just to be on the "safe side", my teachers thought it would be best if I and my roomy had a room (the only pupil room) on the same floor as them in the hotel. Why? I wasn't going to need them. I wasn't suddenly going to let everything out and open up to them!
I think my emotions and anxiety and depression became apparent one day at school, in a Welsh lesson. It was not my teachers fault, although I still wish he had looked up and seen me in his class before opening his mouth. He skimmed his eyes over all our miserable faces (not taking any of the faces in, otherwise he'd have realised that the next thing to come out of his mouth was not appropriate). He stood up, and trying to be a friendly teacher and be "cool", he started talking about the previous nights television programmes. His opening line was "Did anyone see that programme on prisons last night? It's crazy you know, even before they're settled into the room they get shown by other inmates how to tie the correct knot in order to hang themselves". All eyes on my table stared at me. I had no choice. I grabbed my bag, and ran out the door into the girls toilets. I heard my teacher gasp in horror as I walked out the door and he realised what he had just done.
After that I started having councelling with the schools priest. We never once sat and read the bible, and he never preached to me. But that was, maybe, the first time I saw God doing his thing through good people. That priest will never know how much he helped by just talking to me, and it's awful that I can't even remember his name. But I thank him for helping me through.
Upon leaving school I never followed God in any way. I was pregnant at the age of 17, and also rebelled a bit in my late teen/early twenties by going out and getting drunk at weekends.
As you've all read, I met my husband when I was 22. From leaving school until then I hadn't really given God a thought. I spoke to my brother, who I believed to be with God in Heaven, and I had attended a few services at a Spiritualist church in hope that my brother would give me a message.
It was time to be welcomed into my current church just before H was deployed for Afghanistan. It was a totally new experience for me. They sang and danced, and the speaker really spoke to me. Even though H would not be here to go with me every week, I took it upon myself to start going every Sunday, not only to see my sister-in-law but also to sing, to listen, to cry tears full of hope.
I read the bible, getting a lot from the Psalms whilst H was away. I spoke to God, I prayed for H. I prayed that he was home for the birth of T, I prayed that he came home in one piece, I prayed that he came home alive. I didn't only pray for his safe return, I prayed for his comfort whilst out there, and I prayed for myself, for inner strength to get me through each day. God answered these prayers.
When H returned home from Afghanistan I continued to go to church, and H joined me occasionally. I now thanked God for H's return, I thanked God for our baby boy, and I thanked God for keeping our family knitted even though we had been through some form of hell.
In February 2010, Valentines Day, H did not feel up to coming to church. I went alone. That day I raised my hand and gave my life to Jesus. I laughed, I cried. I was happy. Since that day, we have still had our struggles, but I look up at God and I know he will help me.
Some people do not understand why I am a Christian. But let me tell you this... When the person you love the most is in a dangerous situation, you need to seek faith and hope yo' help you through the day. And when you hear my following story you will see God's work in action.
H came home from Afghanistan and I finally got to hear some situations he had found himself in. One of these "stories" was very hard to hear, as things could have turned out so differently.
H was out on patrol at night, the route they had planned had already been checked for bombs etc. All was safe fir the boys to go ahead. Whilst on route God told H he needed to stop and not take one more step forward. H stopped. All the boys were shouting at him to continue on, but he refused. He demanded light on his path before he continued. As his path was lit up, two IED's could be seen in front of H's feet. One more step and he would have been gone. Some call that coincidence, but who was that voice inside H's head telling him to stop, and not to take one more step.
If you would like to, please read Psalm 18. I read this scripture a lot whilst H was away on deployment. The Lord is my strength.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)