Francesca explains the difference God has made in her life and why she’s decided to get baptised this Sunday at Love London.
I am a developmental psychologist. I arrived in London from Milan, one year ago at the end of April 2016, to work on the construct of Differential Susceptibility and on the Highly Sensitive Personality trait in children. I moved to London thanks to a research grant that is currently covering my post-doc position at Queen Mary University of London. It was a grant that we received with Michael Pluess, which is the person who introduced me to ChristChurch London from the very beginning.
I was born in a Catholic family. My mother had a truly sincere bond with God, as did my grandmother, and faith has been always part of my life. I remember that when I applied for the grant funding to come to London, before knowing the decision of the commission I asked God – or actually mainly to Mary, as it is common in the Catholic Church to pray to other figures from the Bible – “please take the lead because I trust that you would lead me where you want me to be”. And then, someone “higher” than me must have decided that for some reason it would be good for me to come here to London. I think that at that time, before coming to CCL, I considered God “much too High”, “much too Holy”, to be someone to speak with, and I was used to speaking to Mary instead.
I received my first baptism when I was an infant, which is common in Italy for Catholic families. However when I grew up, at around 14 years of age, I interrupted my relationship with the Catholic Church because I did not agree with some of its’ “rules”. Still, I continued to believe and go to church to pray, but not during the Sunday service. My faith in God was not so strong as it is nowadays.
When I arrived here at CCL, from the very first time I went to the East service I was deeply moved and impressed by a spirituality I had never experienced before. From the Autumn I started to go to the South Service, which is closer to where I live.
Alpha has been cognitively intense, and the Sunday Service emotionally intense. I discovered that God was there, and I was allowed to speak with Him, to call Him, and was able to recognise in Him a good and positive paternal figure. Then, I started to go to a Connect Group, where I met amazing people that shared with me their faith in God and with whom my faith increased even more. With them I learned to pray in a more sincere, direct and open way. I discovered that I “can” pray to God, and I discovered that He was listening to me.
Since then, I have asked God to guide me through several difficult moments that I have come across this year; my mother’s health problems, problems in a personal relationship, and I started to speak to God, to ask him to guide me, to comfort me through difficult decisions. He did all these things. It has not always been easy, but both in difficult and positive moments I have been able to deeply feel His presence.
This has been an important year for me, and the most powerful change has been to meet God again, and to discover who He really is: a Holy, caring, and powerful figure who can guide me and allow me to explore the world. Prayers have been powerful, I felt love, not loneliness, and I discovered how powerful the love of God is. So now that I have met Him again, baptism is the way to deeply confirm my union with Him, to wash away the sin of my previous life, in which I was not so truly committed to follow Him, and to trust in Him now. I took the decision to be baptised after the Good Friday service. I have wanted to get baptised for a while, but I was too embarrassed about speaking about myself in front of many people, and I only needed more courage and strength. I think that that day God gave that strength to me… and my friends from the Connect Group gave me that strength too!
Jesus makes a big difference in my life! He gives me the strength to go on when I feel down, He reminds me about the importance of life, even when it’s difficult and hard His love helps me to find the energy to help others and give my love to others. He sustains me and He supports me to stay in contact with my emotions, which now I am not afraid of. I can use my energy positively for myself and for others. He reminds me that I am not alone, and someone wiser than me is taking care of me, even though sometimes I may be sad or disappointed about things happening in my life. He has shown, and He is showing me, that there is always a reason, and through Him I can learn and grow more and be of help in my community too.
Joining Foodbank and the Welcome team has been only one of the ways for saying thanks to Him, and to all the wonderful people that have been and are with me in this powerful journey.