My Parents Gave Me Faith: How God Helped Me Cope With the Uncertainties of Life
5 min read | Dec 2021

My Parents Gave Me Faith: How God Helped Me Cope With the Uncertainties of Life

Throughout the Troubles, my mother and father remained sturdy in their beliefs, which influenced my own religious growth.

SWLondoner / Millennial / Progressive / Documentary Researcher

Faith has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember.

I was raised in a Christian home by two parents who had practiced faith their whole lives. Both my mother and father grew up in Northern Ireland, a traditionally religious society where attending and helping out at church is a familiar pastime. They also grew up during the height of the Troubles, a 30-year period of civil unrest over the unification of Ireland, which commenced in the late 1960s. 

Though the Troubles were one of the most turbulent periods in Irish history, it led my parents to develop relationships with God in their young adulthoods. For them, faith was a constant source of peace and comfort during a time of utter chaos and upheaval in their homeland. 

My Parents Experienced Near-Death Situations That Reaffirmed Their Faith

My mother was the youngest child of a police officer who served with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a police force which was targeted at an unprecedented scale by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In total, over 300 RUC officers were murdered by the IRA over the course of the Troubles, and by the early 1980s, they were the most murdered police force of anywhere else in the world. 

In 1983, a police officer serving in Northern Ireland was killed at twice the rate of officers in El Salvador, the second most dangerous country for a police officer in the world. This relentless terror had significant implications for my mother as she watched her father suffer the loss of murdered friends and colleagues and fear for his own life. But these experiences only led my mother to lean on her faith for reassurance and guidance. She recalled sitting in the driving seat of her father’s Ford Capri at 17, praying that a bomb had not been planted underneath it as she switched on the engine. 

Over on the other side of town, my father was also affected directly by the violence of the time, and he drew comfort from his faith, too, as he watched his beloved home torn apart by war. On one particular Tuesday morning, my father was walking to work when he saw a parked car on one side of the street. At that moment, the vehicle exploded, catapulting a young woman and man out through the roof and into the road. My father ran to their aid, putting out the flames that engulfed the woman’s clothes, and carried both victims to safety before paramedics and the media arrived.

Police who tended the scene believed it was nothing short of a miracle that the couple had survived, and it soon became apparent that the IRA were behind the attack, having targeted the man for being a police officer. For my father, this incident was evidence that God was present, even in the middle of a conflict zone.

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Growing Up in the Church Inspired My Own Religious Journey

Faith was a steady constant in my parents’ lives even when they settled in England some years later. Though it was not overtly discussed in my household growing up, it was foundational to our family life. My parents attended church most Sundays, and we were often brought along to Sunday school. But from the beginning, it was clear we had a choice in whether we chose to pursue our own relationships with God. 

Christian principles were demonstrated rather than instructed by my parents. Both my mother and father were generous givers to charitable causes and invariably spent their weekends helping out an elderly neighbor, volunteering at the local sports club or making meals for the church’s homeless shelter. They never preached to anyone about their religion but exemplified how to be true and caring friends, neighbors and community members. Giving was a part of who they were, but they never did it for any acknowledgement or recognition. This left a huge impression on me, and gradually, over the course of my late teens, I tried to adopt the same principles. 

Ten years later, I still try to uphold the same teachings of love, and my belief in God provides me with a daily sense of security and calm. It also helps me cope with the uncertainties of life, whether that be the pandemic, job insecurity or family bereavement. In a very different set of circumstances to my parents, faith has been central to my own life and my understanding of the world. My belief in God was tested enormously during the height of COVID-19, but it became my saving grace throughout the U.K.'s successive lockdowns as we all tried to cling on to some sort of assurance of the future.

For example, every Thursday at 7.30 a.m., I would join a Zoom call with fellow members of my church. At a time when we could only be out for an hour of exercise a day, seeing those familiar faces and listening to God’s prophetic words was the highlight of my week. Whoever would have thought that Zoom, of all places, would become a sacred space? But I longed for that precious 90 minutes, which reminded me that God was still there and still listening. 

I look back on the lockdowns as a particularly uncomfortable time, especially as the things that brought me security before—like friends, work, social activities and hobbies—were all stripped away. But the pandemic fortified my faith as I learned that God alone provided all the reassurance I needed. This was my main takeaway from 2020, and I’m constantly trying to carry the lessons with me as we emerge from the pandemic.

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I’m More Confident in God Watching Over My Future

Learning to give my fears over to God is a daily practice, but I have example after example of how God has worked in my life, and for that, I feel entirely blessed. I find that God often works through other people in my life, and there have been many occasions when multiple friends have said a particular encouraging word or phrase, which I know is God speaking through them. 

It’s also funny to see how circumstances in my life have reflected God working out his plan, like an unexpected opportunity arising in a new city that led to multiple doors opening in different areas of my life. For someone who finds security in having control, there is huge comfort knowing that God has a handle on my future. 

Of course, I have many moments of doubt. Faith means faith for a reason. But I know with great certainty that my belief in God will never change. No matter where I go or what I do, I will always live by the inescapable truth that God loves me, and for that, I will forever thank my parents.

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