As Natural as Breathing

My belief in God comes to me as naturally as breathing. Unfortunately, like breathing, for a very long time I believed without much thought of how fundamental God is in my life. My mother's faith carried me through the first years of my life. Like many island folk, she wasn't well-versed in scripture but she had an innate knowledge of God's law. She taught me that everything comes from God. The good to nurture us, the bad to strengthen us, the ordinary to challenge us to do the extraordinary. She prayed constantly. I have vivid memories of her kneeling at the side of her bed, in deep conversation with Jesus, pleading on behalf of her five daughters.

As a teenager I was rebellious. I tried to distance myself from God, and religion. I thought I was too intelligent to believe in a supernatural being. The cool dispassionate logic of evolution and adaptation suited my need to analyse and rationalise life into ordered bits and pieces. I was becoming a person who felt more at ease with what was quantifiable, observable and evident. I was ill-at-ease with what was formless, unknown and undiscoverable. I placed God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the category of undiscoverable because all the stories I had heard – the ones I had not taken the time to read myself – seemed too incredible to be true.

This was not an easy resolution. The emerging adult wanted cool logic. The latent child wanted warm and immediate comfort. When life was calm and uneventful, I was convinced that science and I had the upper hand. However, at the first sign of real trouble, I instinctively turned to my mother and to God. Although I took enormous care not to let my life become a soap opera, living in New York City at twenty-something was too difficult to navigate. Real trouble came fairly regularly in my early twenties. Some of the problems I could not even reveal to my mother or sisters.

Consequently, I talked to the only one who could help me. I spent many hours at the side of my bed, on my knees, repenting for the hurt I caused others, pleading for forgiveness, and begging for guidance. When real trouble hit hardest I prayed as though my life depended on the earnestness and honesty of my prayers. Something happened when I prayed that intensely. I prayed in utter desperation and then beyond a shadow of a doubt, I felt a connection. I felt the absolute assurance that God was listening to my prayers. I knew God was in control and I was not. That is a hard lesson for someone who likes to organise life down to its smallest minutiae. Not by my will, but His will be done.

I still struggle with reserved coolness. In spite of God's overwhelmingly generous response to my prayers, I wear my faith like I wear my perfume – you'll have to get very close to me to notice it. I've taken the time to study God's words through the Community Bible Studies lessons at Christ Church. The scriptures and the lessons have fed both my need for logic and strengthened my confidence that God is indeed in control of everything -- down to each breath that I take.

Evelyne Martial