As I intimated in a previous post, I am a simple soul, and my faith is a simple one. Not for me the intellectual arguments and discussions that take place on other blogs and in other places. I am not worried about the contradictions of scripture; I am happy to not understand everything. That doesn't mean I am happy about everything or that I don't have doubts: I'm not and I do. But they don't cause my faith to stumble. Or at least they haven't yet.
I was christened as a baby. When I was about 10 or 11, my mum sent me to confirmation classes and I was confirmed as a member of the Church in Wales. I was brought up in that sort of background - not that my family was particularly religious: they were anything but! My mother went to church sometimes and it was my habit too. When my mum died, I turned to the church. I also tried yoga. I was looking for something.
Life went on, I got married and we moved to Southampton. I met and began to meet up with a group of Christian women. They had something i didn't have and I wanted it. I 'said the prayer', the 'I'm sorry and I want you in my life, God' prayer, and I 'became' a Christian.
Life didn't change dramatically: I don't think it does for most people. Paul (the apostle formerly known as Saul) had an unusual and dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus; other people talk of encountering God in a powerful way. That didn't happen for me.
What did happen, a few weeks after my 'conversion', was that I was assailed by doubt. Not just a little bit of doubt but a massive, throwing-it-all-at-me doubt. How could there possibly be a God? How could there be anyone big enough to be outside the universe, beyond infinity and eternity? And how or why would such a being care for me, know me by name even knowing the number of hairs on my head? It was just complete and utter nonsense that I was being taken in by. Everything that I'd always believed in one sense or another was total rubbish and utterly impossible. It wasn't God I was encountering but the devil.
These thoughts battled in my head, disturbing my nights and draining my days. I couldn't resolve it. My head felt it would burst. I remember throwing myself on the bed, crying out.
At the time I was attending on an occasional basis a church that was shared by Anglicans, Baptists and - I don't recall the other denomination - but they all took it in turns to lead the Sunday service and as far as I know everyone attended whatever denomination they were and whoever was running the service. (An example that hasn't been taken up even these years later.) Anyway, this particular Sunday the Baptist minister was preaching. He was an ex-policeman who was training and he was very down-to-earth. I spoke to him after the service and told him of my battle. He said simply, 'When I am overwhelmed by the enormity of it, I bring God down to size: I think of Jesus, the man, on the cross.'
Suddenly it all seemed simple.
If I believed that story then everything else - the minutiae - was unimportant. I could choose to believe or choose to disbelieve. I chose to believe.
That's why the contradictions don't bother me, why the errors, the factual inaccuracies, don't make an atheist of me. I have made my choice.
No-one forces us. It's simply a choice we're all offered.
The fact - as I see it - that it is accompanied with the offer of unconditional love is a bonus.
When Husband had cancer, he had to spend a week at a time in hospital having chemotherapy. One night, while Husband was away having his treatment, God held me in his hand. I couldn't have felt safer or more loved and secure if he had materialised before me.
I am a crappy Christian. I sin in thought, word and deed in spite of my best intentions. And very often my intentions aren't even good let alone best. I really hope people don't judge God by what they see in me. I am very aware of my faults, as is God. Yet if I say sorry, we can start again.
Those instances of meeting God or facing the devil so intensely haven't happened since. Sometimes I feel a very long way from God; other times I look at the sky - for it's easier to imagine Him up there somewhere - and smile and whisper, 'I love you.'