I grew up in an atheist home: I never went to Sunday School, we never went to church. And I lived life on my own terms without any reference to God.
I lurched from one disastrous relationship to another, looking for love in all the wrong places. And when I was thirty, I got involved with a guy who was five years younger than myself.
When I found out he was doing heroin, instead of leaving him I started taking heroin as well. That began an 18-month ordeal as I tried to come off the drug, but it is incredibly addictive; and life just went from bad to worse.
I was staying at a friend’s flat, and I remember rummaging around in the drawers for some matches, because one way of taking heroin is to light a bit of it and inhale the fumes—it’s called chasing the dragon.
And while looking for the matches, I found a little Gideon New Testament and while high on heroin I started reading this little New Testament. I’d never read the Bible before, and I just read there that I was in real trouble—that there was a living God to whom I owed an account for my life, this life that I had just trashed.
And suddenly I realised that I couldn’t commit suicide—life was living hell, but death meant facing him, and I was too scared to do that. I saw in the Bible that I was in real trouble with a real God.
I didn’t know who Jesus was, but I knew I had to get to a church. And so I went to a church service on Good Friday. I remember sitting right at the back of the church, near the back door, ready to make a quick getaway.
But then they started reading from the gospel of Matthew about Jesus’ crucifixion. And I just sobbed, because what I heard was that he had died on the cross for me. That all the things I had done and the punishment that was coming my way, he had taken on the cross. And when he cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I realised that it was for me that he was forsaken. He had taken my forsakenness.
And I just sobbed. I just burst into tears. He’d done that for me so that I could be not forsaken—and I just knew that I was God’s daughter.
I was sobbing, absolutely sobbing. I don’t know what people thought, but I didn’t really care, because I walked out there knowing that God is my Father and life has just changed from that moment on.
That was nine years ago, and as I look back over the time that I’ve been a Christian, God has changed me from the inside out. I can see that God has healed and restored every single area that I had single-handedly trashed. He has restored relationships with friends, and he’s given me loads of new friends. He has restored me to my family. He has restored my career. He’s helped me settle all that debt.
Where before, I lived life for myself and on my own terms, I see now that there’s real freedom and real joy in living for God and on his terms. I love him with all my heart, my soul and my strength, and I love others, and for me that’s what makes life worth living. And I can’t thank Him enough for what he’s done for me.