I’m grateful to have James Prescott here today sharing his amazing, hard, beautiful story of growing up and finding God in the midst of a painful childhood. I know his story will bless you. He is a writer & creative exploring how we find divine hope in the messiness of life. He blogs regularly at www.jamesprescott.co.uk and is a regular guest blogger for various sites. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77 & on Facebook. He recently released his first e-book, ‘5 Steps to Encouragement: A Manifesto for Changing the World’ which can be obtained free here.
When I was eight years old my Mum had an asthma attack, which she just managed to survive. But due to a temporary lack of oxygen to the brain, she suffered permanent brain damage. She lost her short-term memory.
As I moved into my teenage years my independent, highly intelligent Mum struggled to reconcile herself to her condition, which prevented her from working. She began drinking heavily. My Dad struggled to carry the family by himself, and began suffering from what would now be called stress or anxiety.
Meantime, I was getting bullied at school. Told I was worth nothing. Having my clothes thrown around the changing room at PE and people opening my pencil case and throwing it around the room. People stealing my things in class. I was pretty low.
I got home from this daily ordeal, and my parents would be fighting. My Mum was drunk, which upset my Dad, who was stressed as it was, and the alcohol made my Mum aggressive.
In the end, it was me who broke up all the fights. Pretty much every day.
I have to stress, my parents loved me dearly. They never set out to hurt me. My parents were simply broken and hurting, and the pain was clouding out the gentle, loving people they truly were. And later on, I saw these amazing people emerge again.
But during my teenage years, all this was clouded out. I felt alone. My sister too young to be a help to me, and not many close friends.
One night, I began to talk in bed. To God. I had to let the pain inside out somewhere. I wanted someone to care enough to listen. No one else did.
This became a habit. Every day I would pray before going to sleep. Often for long periods.
It became my favourite time of day. I often ran upstairs enthusiastically, impatient for my time with God. The place I wouldn’t feel alone or ignored.
It was this time, when I built the foundation of my relationship with God. I came to a place where now it seems perfectly natural to talk to God like anyone else. I can talk to God during my everyday life, when I’m on my own, like I’m in conversation with a friend.
When I pray, it’s like resuming an ongoing conversation. And God speaks to me too (when I can be quiet for long enough!). Often in the midst of a big group, God speaks to me.
And it’s just our ongoing conversation.
I realised recently, it’s gift. I cherish it and can’t imagine my life without it.
My teenage years were my equivalent of hell. I have no desire to relive them. Ironically though, had I not been through those times I would not have this relationship with God in the way I do.
Our childhood and teenage years shape us. Most of my insecurities and fears are rooted in what happened in my childhood. And they still affect me to this day.
However, I also have the blessing of this ongoing conversation with God. An adopted son talking to His heavenly Father about the normal, everyday circumstances of life. Yes, we talk about my mistakes, about areas I need healing and forgiveness, and I share my deepest concerns with Him.
But the part of it I love the most, are my day to day chats. Our ongoing conversation about the small things. It makes God part of my everyday. It makes Him more real.
It’s a gift all of us can cultivate, if we devote the time.
And I know from experience, if you do, you won’t ever regret it.
So begin today.