Every time I came out of church, tears fell from me. It was impossible to stop it; it was almost as if my heart was screaming out at me. I was inconsolable.
I had worked long hours to give the children everything they wanted; I just did not show enough love to them all partly because I was so stressed out.
When I moved out temporarily to get our heads around the problem, I realised how much I loved them all, but my wife closed the door and refused to allow me back.
My life was in pieces; broken by a painful divorce after 23 years of marriage. It was very difficult and I was lonely.
Severely bruised I continued to try and recover the marriage, and was drawn to church every week. Every time I came out of church, tears fell from me. It was impossible to stop it; it was almost as if my heart was screaming out at me. I was inconsolable. For months I lived in total seclusion, grieving for what I had lost. Eventually, after seeking counselling and attending a divorce recovery workshop, I began to start a new life.
A good neighbour from St Michaels Church pointed out that a new Alpha course was starting. I still felt extreme guilt in failing my family and resisted for months, but after some hesitation I enrolled. Arriving on the first evening, I was made very welcome; food was laid on and conversation was very easy. This wasnt so bad after all!
The people there were so good to me and didn't judge me for the divorce; I felt comfortable. The course had picked me up and helped me to understand lots of missing pieces in my life. As the course proceeded things changed, I stopped swearing and my aggression decreased, my parents said I had changed. The leader of the Alpha course, Julie Bradley, took me under her wing and brought me into more things in church - I couldn't get enough. Her son on the course kept on saying he could see the Holy Spirit in me; I had no idea what he was on about! Church 30 years ago did not talk about these things.
As I threw myself totally into the church lots of things happened. A place came up for a parish weekend, even though it was full sixmonths before. I was drawn to helping the poor, and went on my first of three subsequent mission trips to the Philippines. I was overwhelmed with the three weeks I worked in the slums of Manila. God showed me how lucky I was and how poor these people were. These people knew the true meaning of life; they had no possessions but based their life around God, families and communities.
Returning back home became very difficult. I felt confused with what I had seen; life here didnt make any sense. Some months later I got back into normal Western life wondering where I would go next. I wanted to share my life with someone but had been unsuccessful in the past. I was keen to put something back into church, so I started a new singles group called 'Islanders' to help other people like myself, who were lonely.
Julie, who had attended the Alpha course with my parents and now was part of my Islanders Group, seemed to have an interest in me, but being a typical man I couldn't see it! Eventually the penny dropped and we started dating; four weeks later I proposed and Julie accepted. We are now planning a wedding for next year and hope that God is with us in our new journey.
I now know what the meaning of life is and I thank God for it every day!
About the author
Martin Davies is now happily married and worships at St Michael's, Stoke Gifford. He discovered himself and God in 2004, and has been onmission trips to the Philippines, Uganda and Brazil.