I had a very happy childhood. I was one of five sisters, and my Catholic parents had very little money but lots of love. We attended mass regularly - every Sunday morning we were taken to the 8.30am service, which the priest galloped through in 25-30 mins, and then we went home gratefully to have breakfast.
I didn't enjoy this routine, but I learnt and believed some very important truths. I learnt that God exists and He loves me. I learnt that He is comprised of three equal persons. I also learnt that He came into the World as Jesus, fully man and fully God, died for our sins and then came back to life again after 3 days and returned to Heaven. What nobody told me, was how this related to me personally and what should I do about it.
I tried to be good as a child, as best as I knew how, but as I grew into my teens I cared less about it, and ducked and weaved, not always being where I told my parents I was. My religion was simply which box I ticked on forms.
I went to university, and there I met some people who were excited about Christianity. They gave me a Bible in modern English. I had always believed that the Bible was the Word of God, but had never actually read it, apart from the excerpts in the mass. I started to read it, and I was gripped. I read and read through the night, there were so many things I had never heard before.
I discovered something terrible. God is holy and pure, and will not tolerate sin. I had never done anything seriously bad, like murder or robbery, but every lie, every selfish act, every unkind thought even, was sin against God and I was condemning myself to Hell.
I also discovered something wonderful. Because God loves me and knows that, however hard I try, I can't stop sinning, He came to Earth Himself and took the punishment I deserve, on the cross. My response to this must be to repent and turn from a life of doing things my way, to ask Him for forgiveness, and to commit to following and obeying Him.
Christianity isn't about obeying rules. It isn't even about going to church, though that is a very important part of learning and maturing. It is about having a relationship with God, through Jesus. I know that I am going to Heaven, not because I am a perfect person – far from it – but because Jesus is my Lord.