This a post was first published in 2013. It's certainly not my best ever piece of writing, but it was very pertinent to me at that time in my life.
I have moved on from my addiction to alcohol and the deep depressive episodes that I used to suffer from. I will never forget the kindness and fellowship that Salvation army offered me, in my my very darkest hours.
I’m by no means a religious fanatic but I do class myself a Christian. In fact I despise religious and anti-religious fanatics equally. Religion is a very deep rooted belief that I think should be kept personal. If someone is interested in my faith, for example my children, I’m happy to discuss it with them.
That said, this is a personal journal and I am still exploring my faith so whilst there will not be a “praise the lord” or “amen” at the end of each post on a Sunday, Christianity is a part of who I am and therefore I am not ashamed to make references to it.
I was brought up in a Christian family and, in those days, Christianity was all around me; Hymns and Prayers at school assembly, Boys Brigade church parades and RE classes that taught a religion rather than the ‘pick n mix’ lessons that children seem to get today. As I grew older, church became a just building to hold weddings and funerals in, as it has for many people.
The first time in my later life that I attended a church of any kind was when I was in a deep and dark depressive / alcoholic phase. I was drinking dawn till dusk, wasn't keeping myself clean, wasn't eating properly and had become isolated from pretty much everybody. Basically I was a mess!
One Sunday morning I was on my way back from my breakfast’ at the pub when I saw a sign ‘Sunday worship - all welcome’. I wish I could say that it was divine intervention and the sign was surrounded by angels and lit bright by a ray of sun but actually I was just pissed.
Anyway, I went in and sat at the back. Much to my surprise there were no ‘tut tut’s and people didn’t move to other seats in fact, at the end of the service, people actually spoke to me and made me feel welcome.
The place I had found myself in was the local Salvation Army. You may think of them just as the guys that in black uniforms that play carols on the street at Christmas but you know what? These guys are a lot more than that to me. They didn't judge me, they didn't ask anything of me and they didn't preach to me. They just offered me friendship.
Unfortunately, timing wasn't right and shortly after, I made another drunken attempt at an overdose. I was admitted to psychiatric hospital again and the only person who made the effort to find and visit me there was the captain of that Salvation Army corps.
That simple act of unselfish kindness from, what was essentially, a complete stranger still makes me well up when I think about it.
I think I’ll go to the afternoon meeting today.