The Void In Me was UnbearableShe was a selfish wife, an impatient mother, an ungrateful daughter and a very bad friend. Would God want her if he knew how much she’d sinned?
Minutes before they took me into the operating room, I started crying, and I prayed to God for the first time in my life. I asked him to give me the strength to go through the operation - and to please make it the last one! In exchange, I promised that I would trust him.
Chantale Fournier with sons Benjamin (left) and Vincent, and husband Alain.
I’d been sick with Crohn’s disease and Colitis and this was my fourth operation. I was hoping to have my external bag removed.
Mentally, I was exhausted. I felt I had lost the previous three years because of my disease and I felt I hadn't been a good mother to my children, since I was sick every time we tried to enjoy an outing.
As for the operation, I woke up three hours later, no longer attached to the external bag. I was elated. God had held up his end of the deal, but I had already forgotten about my promise to Him. I was afraid of church. I even put aside some friendships because some of my friends were just too boring for me – they were too good, too perfect. At least that's how I was seeing them at the time.
I went back to being who I was: a selfish wife, an impatient mother, an ungrateful daughter, an unforgivable sister and a very bad friend! I kept wanting more…a better job, a better love life, etc. I needed to fill the void inside of me.
After two years of living that life, I grew tired of trying to find ways to be happier. That's when I finally listened to a friend at work named Dee Dee. She always had a kind word. And even though her life seemed to revolve around God and church, I kept asking her questions… not because I was interested, but because I wanted to prove her wrong. Yet no matter what I said, she was not affected. Her faith just seemed to grow stronger, which I found very annoying at the time!
When I later moved to a different workplace, for some reason Dee Dee was the only co-worker who kept in touch with me. I started emailing her, asking her more questions about religion. She referred me to some websites and even emailed me some passages from the Bible.
Now I was getting more and more curious about God. I was telling Dee Dee about my personal life, and asking her if God would really forgive me if He knew how much I had sinned. She kept insisting that I speak with pastor Tim. Then she told me about the Alpha Course and I agreed to go. On the second evening, I accepted God into my life!
Life has changed for me – and it is still changing. I now trust God with everything in my life. I am finally admitting to myself that I can't do it all alone and that I need God's help. I wouldn't say everything is easier now; I am being challenged every day – but I trust it will all get better.
I am so happy I walked into Granville Chapel when I did. I got baptized on my 32nd birthday, and since then my life has changed and so has my way of thinking. I no longer have a need to look outside of my marriage for love. I actually want to make it work… for a lifetime. I have learned to let go, and to stop trying to control everything. I've also learned that, with the power of prayer, things do get better. I have had answers to many prayers, and it's an incredible feeling to trust God.
I am now helping with the current Alpha Course, and enjoying every minute of it. I am still learning new things, and some of my old beliefs are still being challenged.
My husband has seen the changes in me and has prayed, asking God into his life. He's very grateful that our marriage has been saved! Every second Wednesday we go to a home Bible study group together. It is great to see our faith growing together.
We now attend church as a family! Our kids enjoy Sunday School, and attend Bible camp every summer. And they are helping with Vacation Bible School at our church.
My Mother, who lives in Montreal and my Grandmother, who lives in Florida saw the changes in me and started going to church. They both got baptized in Florida on December 24, 2005.
God has taken care of me more than I could have imagined. The change in our lives during the past three years is amazing. God even healed me from sickness and pains that had puzzled the doctors.
I am not afraid to express my faith; in fact I have a thirst for it. I tell everyone around me about it, and I'm not afraid of being judged. At work, they all know what I do with my Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings. I am very lucky to be able to share my story with as many people as I do. I pray every day that God will give me the right words, so I can affect and touch the people around me.
Originally published in Alpha News, Spring 2006.
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