Growing up, my parents weren’t religious and the only time I remember going to church was for my brother’s christening. I always believed there could be a higher being, but I thought Christianity was outdated and irrelevant.
To me, Jesus was nothing more than a wise guy. I suppose I thought life was about finding success, and that meant having loads of friends, being well liked, and finding my dream job. I expected that once I had ticked all these boxes, I’d be satisfied.
When I was sixteen, a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and died months later. I really didn’t know how to react and was totally shaken. I had nowhere to channel my grief, so I fell into a self-destructive mode. The easiest thing to do was to push everything down further.
I started going out way too much, drinking and dabbling in drugs. None of these things made me happier and I didn’t understand why. Even though the selling point is, ‘Take these and you’ll have a great night,’ every morning I woke up with the same feeling of emptiness.
When I was nineteen, I moved to Brighton to study Music Business. I kept up this lifestyle but I hit rock bottom a couple of months in. I was alone in a new city and I had no one to turn to.
Around this time, a friend, Lydia, invited me to a student party at church and I thought I’d go along. I remember walking outside the church building thinking, ‘An abandoned church? Great music? This is going to be amazing.’
It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I remember going home and noticing that I had never felt so valued and loved in my life. That night, the emptiness inside me almost began to disappear.
I started helping out at the church’s homeless outreach project. Every week I had so many questions – about Jesus, prayer and worship – that eventually Lydia suggested I go along to Alpha to find out what faith was all about.
I was really surprised to see so many young people in church. When I asked questions, people really opened up about their own doubts and experiences. It was refreshing to see that Christianity isn’t outdated, it’s contemporary and relevant to our generation.
I didn’t become a Christian overnight, and there wasn’t one huge event that made me decide to follow Jesus. It was very gradual, a slow understanding, which suited me as I needed time to think things through. I felt lighter, and began to find ways of channelling my feelings instead of shutting them up like I had done for years.
It’s so liberating to know that there’s someone out there who cares about me, who cares about the way I’m feeling. Instead of hiding behind a lifestyle or material things, I feel a lot more confident in my identity because I know I’ve been created this way for a reason.
My journey into faith started when a friend invited me to Alpha and invited me to find out about Jesus. I’ll always be grateful to her for having that courage. At the time, she didn’t know the effect it would have on my life.