I was born into a Catholic family, the oldest of four children. My parents were/are really good people. We didn't go to church alot as I was growing up. We lived on a farm and between the distance to travel to church and milking cows, etc., we just didn't make it to town for church alot.
My parents did manage to put us into parochial school through the primary grades, and then into CCD so we received all the sacraments on time. Shortly after my confirmation, I really went off the deep end. I ran with a crowd that was into "sex, and drugs and rock-n-roll" and I embraced that lifestyle fully.
At 19 I met a guy on a Harley and rode away with him (he's now my husband). I never told my family I was leaving, I just left and they never heard from me for a year and half, until my son was born. A couple of years later I really hit rock bottom and went back home to my parents along with my son. We had lost our 2nd child, my husband was sent to prison, and I had my 2nd abortion around this time. They took me back in and helped me to start to rebuild my life. I went to college while my husband did time. Afterwards we got back together and we started doing pretty well. We both got good jobs, we had plenty of money coming in, and things were looking up.
And this is when I started to think about God. It wasn't when I was at "rock bottom", then I was just trying to survive. It was when everything was looking up and going great, it suddenly hit me, there must be more to life than this. So I started to seek. I figured if there was a God, then the Bible was probably a good place to look to find out about Him. At this point I considered going back to the Catholic Church, but quite frankly, I was certain that no priest would be able give me absolution, because there was not a single one of the 10 commandments that I had not broken. And yet all along, I felt that if there was a God worth knowing, then He could possibly forgive me.
I read everything I could get my hands on about the Bible at the public library and began trying to read and understand the Bible. I went through everything from "higher criticism" to very orthodox Christian writers, with plenty of prophecy stuff thrown in for good measure. And just to help me along, the Lord sent me a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses as well!
They befriended me and I began to meet with them as well as continuing to study on my own in a very eclectic manner. After about 18 months of meeting weekly with the witnesses they began to press me to attend meetings with them. At this point I earnestly prayed to God, that if He was out there, I needed to hear from Him about the beliefs of the witnesses. Within a couple of days, I was at the public library again and ran across a copy of Kingdom of the Cults, by Dr. Walter Martin. I read the section on the JW's. The good Dr. carefully pointed out the errors of the Witnesses by using scripture and this was what I needed to see in order walk away from them.
I remember that these words came to my mind at that time: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." And I was free of the JW's but also, I was feeling lost, and I didn't know where to turn for the truth.
After a process of about 3 years of study, I was reading Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" one night. As I read through it I realized that everything Josh was talking about and giving proofs for, I already believed. This was what my soul longed for. And at the end of the book, when Josh gives his testimony, it really hit me, that just as Josh had prayed ". . . Lord I've tried doing it my way and made a mess of my life, now I want to try it Your way. . . " (or something to that effect), I had really made a mess of my life. And I was ready to try it God's way. So that night as I lay in my bed, I prayed and asked Jesus to be my saviour. And He said He would.
Well, after that I wanted to be in a church, and I began to pray and ask the Lord to guide me to a church. And my good friend who lived next door and was Catholic invited me to go with her to mass, so I did. I was excited, but when we walked into the beautiful church and I saw the two story high mural of the Virgin Mary behind the altar, well, it just upset me. I was wanting to share in praising my Jesus, and instead the place of honor was given to His mother. I never went back, but the next week a co-worker invited me to his church. It was a small non-denominational church that studied the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse. The pastor taught in an expositional style. The people were friendly, warm and really excited about what God was doing in their lives. So God had answered my prayer, and brought me into a Church fellowship that He had prepared just for me, (and me for them!).
I just want to add that, my parent's unconditional love, the way they took me back in after all I had done, has been a picture to me of God's love. If not for them, I'm not sure I would have believed that God could ever accept me, but because they could, I was able to believe that He could. And I also want to encourage everyone who wonders about God and truth to just pray and ask Him, and He will reveal Himself you at just the right time.
He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.