I see this section hasn't had much activity for the past while. I thought I'd add my story here. It's long, so grab a cup of tea
I was born and raised in Brazil, a Catholic country. My parents themselves, although raised according to Catholic customs, were not quite the believers. I was taught to pray and to believe in God, to trust he would bless the good and the righteous, but that was it. I prayed every night, thanking this unseen "Daddy" (in Brazil, children call God "Papai do Céu", which translates to "Daddy from Heaven"), but never thinking much about it. My parents and grandparents taught me, some books taught me, my teachers taught me. I, obedient child, just did it.
My mother, who suffers from a certain condition, at times said hurtful things. I would pray wishing that God would take me during my sleep. But after some time, seeing that did not happen, at the age of 5 I thought of killing myself and taking my baby sister with me, to spare us both from the suffering. At night I went to the kitchen and grabbed the biggest and sharpest knife my mother had. Voices beside me rushed me, "Do it!" they said. But my hands were paralysed. A faint and tiny, quiet voice said "don't... you will fail. Do not wish for death when it is not your time. Live, and you will find joy." I obeyed it, and lived day after day, standing whatever hurtful things my crazed mother would tell us. I asked my father for help, but all he said was "Forgive her. When she says that she's unaware of what she's doing." My father, who would later on forsake all belief, was the first one to teach me the hardest lesson of all: forgiveness...
During my pre-teens, when deep questions rooted in my mind, my parents used Kardec's spiritualism to explain things to me. That was the new... idea they were turning to back then. My grandmother, with whom I spent a lot of time, was also turning to that faith. I took their word for truth and did not think about it.
When teenage came a certain dread found its way into my heart and stayed there. The world seemed hostile, people seemed dirty, unworthy, just waiting to hurt me. My mother, who has a history of suffering at her family's hands, did not help me in keeping the bad feelings away. And I had frequent nightmares. At that point, God had little to no importance to me. He was like a parent of whom, for no good reason, we are ashamed of when we are teenagers. I still recognised Him as the Creator, but nothing more. I did not pray, I did not thank, I did not talk to Him. And the Bible was but a book of fairy tales.
Things only started to changed after I met this Canadian guy on an on-line game. He met me during one of my lowest points in life, helped me through it all and still stayed. We chatted back and forth for 3 years. I knew he was a Christian, but he kept his belief to himself most of the times. I admit I looked down on him for being a Christian. For me, believing was a weakness. I (thought I) had gotten far without any belief's help, people go pretty far believing in much less than what I did. Besides, Christians had not given me the best impression. I saw them as arrogant fools who bent their rules to their own convenience, claiming their wars and hatred to be God's. They knowingly sinned but had a ready-made excuse extracted from their books. They were worse than seculars, since they did evil when they knew they had to be doing better. I hated them for that, and I would humiliate a fool like that without a regret.
This guy, however, was different. He was light-hearted, quiet, and laid-back. During my university studies I had the opportunity to go to Québec. That guy and I met in Montréal for the first time during New Year's Eve, and we started dating. Many harsh words were exchanged and tears shed on our Skype meetings over Christianity. On my birthday he sent me a Bible. So I decided to give it a try. If anything, I was doing it for my beloved.
I walked small and unwilling steps towards God for 2 years. Last year's summer, I travelled to Canada to spend my vacations with my beloved. He proposed, and I never returned home. Our first months as newly-weds were not easy. The fruits of evil thoughts were ripening, and my insecurity, jealousy, arrogance hurt my husband several times.
In April this year, a certain event shattered all pride, all confidence I had. A great fear overcame me, and I felt crushed, weak, incapable of doing anything. I was but a shadow of myself. I had to beg for God's help for the first time in more than a decade. I got down on my knees and cried my heart out for help. And, as in a miracle, help came on the same day, within hours. I felt terribly ashamed. I was not expecting God to answer that quickly, especially to someone who had ignored Him and hated His servants. A few nights later, a quiet voice whispered me before I fell asleep: "Remember when you used to call Me 'Papai' (Daddy)?". I soaked my pillow with tears that night.
A few weeks later, after a Bible study session my husband and I were attending, I had several questions about the Holy Spirit. I could not grasp the concept of it. No matter how my husband tried to explain it, it was all alien to me. After a long pause, he said "You know what? It's better shown than explained. But first I need to know: are you ready to take on the title of 'Christian'?". "I do not do it for titles or reputation." I replied. So we prayed together. We prayed that the Holy Spirit enter our hearts. And yet again, tears flooded my eyes. For the first time in all my life, my heart was light. The pain and dread to which I had grown used were dissolved. And for the first time in many weeks, I felt strong again. It was not, however, the same evil, poisonous strength I had before; it was gentle, soothing, and yet so overwhelming. It felt like I was reborn.
And so it is, day by day I feel my faith growing and my former, evil self disappearing. I, who had never disappointed my family, my teachers, my superiors, and took pride in such, report sins everyday on my prayers. I, who never got down on my knees and would rather die than ask for mercy, have to ask forgiveness every single day. I, who never feared neither God nor death, am ashamed of myself and would not dare look at God's face. My pride is gone. My hatred, bitterness, jealousy are gone. My nightmares have ceased. I have energy and strength that I had never experienced before. My mind is clear, my heart is calm. Blessings abound. I get more than what I asked for.
Recently I asked my husband why he chose me, since I was the one every Christian is advised to stay away from. He replied "I asked God for a sign, and the sign clearly pointed to you".