In 2001 Carole, who did not grow up with a religious background, had a powerful encounter with God that has changed her life. She attends a Roman Catholic church in Regina.
I considered myself as in complete control of my life. A middle class woman, wife and mother of two teenagers, I was running a home based business, went to church on Sunday and life was good!
“The luckiest day of my life!”
When I first heard about the Alpha Course it was through a series of very interesting questions that had been put in the church bulletin. They were the kind of questions I never really thought about, but since they were being asked now, I was a little curious. So I inquired about taking the course. That was the luckiest day of my life!
What I neglected to realize was just how vulnerable this nice little life of my really was. I thought I could take on the world if I had too, but I was certainly mistaken.
After going through the 10 week Alpha course once, I realized that I was going to church each Sunday but in a very mechanical way. Just putting in my hour and leaving feeling good about my accomplishment. Wow, I was wrong. The course showed me that there was so much more to saying that I was a ‘Christian’ and Jesus was at the centre of it. I started talking to my new friend every day through prayer and I started to read the bible. In addition he gave me the strength I needed to quiet smoking after 25 years. This feeling of freedom was incredible!
I was invited to help run the next Alpha course. I was smoking two packs a day, I felt Jesus calling me to do this *by name,* but I felt so inadequate, I was smoking 2 packs a day, was overweight, I gossiped… but I did return. I was so excited about this program and now I finally found out what it meant to have a relationship with our Lord. I was praying everyday and reading the bible. I felt so good about everything. Life really was great now.
Hit by Crohns
The second Alpha course had ended and it was the Monday before Holy Week. I had gone to Gravelbourg with Father John and some of the parishioners to celebrate in a Chrism Mass. We all had a wonderful day and upon returning to Regina that evening, I became very sick. I thought maybe I had eaten something that disagreed with me but the next day was even worse. I had a busy week ahead of me so I did my best to get through the week thinking each day that I would be better, but no luck. I could not go to the hospital because I had a family to take care of a business to run and I simply did not have time for this right now. So I waited.
The following Monday was the beginning of Holy Week and I was still very sick. I still could not go to the hospital because I had a celebration to attend at the church and there was no way I was going to miss this special event.
Tuesday morning I woke up feeling very weak, pale and dizzy. I had not eaten in over a week and thought if I go to the hospital this morning they have until Thursday morning to get me better as I have to be in church for Holy Thursday.
When I arrived at the hospital, the nurses were not impressed with me for waiting so long to come in. They quickly hooked me up to everything you can imagine. When the doctor arrived I informed him that today was Tuesday and I need to be home no later than Thursday morning, so I would cooperate with him, “but remember Thursday morning!”
After a series of tests I was admitted and diagnosed with Crohn’s. However, I reminded the good doctor that he had until Thursday morning. He just smiled and said let’s take this one day at a time. The next day I was feeling OK. I had more wires hooked up to me that you can imagine. I thought I was doing well, but it was only as long as I did not eat, drink, or walk. I did figure on going home the next day as I felt I was in complete control of the situation.
Control taken away
Thursday arrived. I was tidying up my room, collecting my things when the doctor arrived only to tell me to relax, I wasn’t responding to any of the medication, and therefore I was going nowhere. It was a good job he left the room as quickly as he did because I started to get ugly. Control in my life was being taken away, and I did not like that one bit. I was left in my room alone and I started to lash out at this so-called Lord of ours who really left me hanging. I did everything I was supposed to do and this is what I got. It’s Holy Thursday and I am sitting in the hospital for what!
Rage toward God
Everyone was going to be at church and I am sitting here. I was so mad and hurt I wanted to scream. Never again would I open my heart up to someone who would let me down. We were finished.
Then there was a knock at the door. This kind lady enter and made the big mistake of saying that she was from the Chapel. Once I heard that, I knew she was a friend of God’s, boy, did I let her have it. I started crying and yelling at her and telling her how Jesus let me down and how I had gone through the Alpha course and for what?
Then I stopped and apologized for making a fool out of myself. She told me not to apologize and to let it all out. So I did. She got it again. I proceeded to tell her through my tears how I had been praying and reading the bible because I heard through Alpha how important that was, and look where I am. I need to be in church not here.
This ‘guardian angel’ sat silently on the edge of my bed, passed me a Kleenex to wipe my tears and in two sentences allowed Jesus to speak through her to me. What she said I knew instantly could not have merely come from this woman’s kindness. There was no way she knew anything about me. To have been able to give me words that had such an impact… I knew that it was Jesus speaking to me. There was a calm that came over me and all of a sudden, I knew I was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be. I was not sure why he wanted me there but I was OK with it. This was the first time in my life that I had given complete control away and it really felt good . . . (continue Carole’s story next week)