My faith in God makes a very real difference to everyday life. The Alpha Course set my entire life on a new course and I wake up each morning and thank God.
I have suffered from depression since my early 20s and life became even more challenging in my late 40s. Over a four year period my brother died whilst waiting for a lung transplant, and I lost my husband Ted through inoperable cancers.
When Ted was ill I went on the internet searching for old friends to give me a boost, and I came across Rick who had been friends with Ted and me in our 20s.
Rick's wife had died six years earlier from a brain tumour and Rick was very supportive of me during Ted's illness. A year after Ted's death Rick and I became good friends, but it was also a time of such anger for me.
"If there was a God, where was he when I needed him," I thought. "No God would let me go through such pain." I knew that Rick went to church and so I decided to and have a look. I was so surprised, I had never been to a church like Woodlands before.
I was amazed at how many people were there - both young and old - and I heard stories from people whose lives seemed to have been turned around by God. I didn't even believe God existed but decided to go to an Alpha Course to find out more.
When I walked into the first session it was really welcoming and friendly but inside I was very bitter and thought, "There can't possibly be a God. The three most important men in my life have died. No God would do that."
But as the course progressed my feelings changed.
At one Alpha session we discussed talking to God. I hadn't ever prayed before, but that evening as I drove home I said, "OK God, this is it, I'm talking to you and don't believe for a minute you're there... but if you are, let me know."
Within seconds if felt as if someone had put their arms around me with a warm blanket, comforting me. I thought, "Wow, what's this? Can this really be God?"
After that initial experience, things began to change for the better. My bitterness subsided and I realised that God accepts me for who I am.
With me, what you see is what you get, gaudy earrings included, and God is fine with that!
Life for me now couldn't be more different. Rick and I are now married. I never thought I'd find one man I could love in my life, never mind two. I'm coming off antidepressants after 23 years and have found that my experience with depression can help others.
I have a wonderful husband who supports me, and my faith in God makes a very real difference to everyday life.
The Alpha Course set my entire life on a new course and I wake up each morning and thank God. I have been baptised and I love being a part of my church. I have even helped out on other Alpha courses where I meet people just like me when I went along to Alpha and I know deep down that God can change their lives too.
About the author
Christine lives in Southmead in North Bristol and looks after the elderly and those needing palliative care.