Stuart A

Hello my name is Stuart Alvarez.

My parents were both non-practicing Catholics, and I was brought up with an awareness of God from their perspective.

I was born with mild Cerebral Palsy which affects my speech and hand movement. This obviously causes its difficulties and my parents have been very good over the years with dealing with me.

Because of my Cerebral Palsy I attended St Martin’s school, until I joined up with my peers in St Paul Nursery. During this time I went to Holy Communion and Confirmation in the Catholic Church.

For most of my life I was very bitter and had problems controlling my temper. As I approached my teenage years these problems intensified. I felt an obsession to conform in an age where peer pressure was at all time high. As a result my relationship with other people was a struggle mostly because of envy. This brought problems at school and generally when socialising with others.

During that period of my life I struggled with finding a reason to carry on living with bouts of depression and very often despair.

One day I got involved in a discussion between two students about God in a biology class. They were discussing the theme of creation vs evolution. The thought that this world just happened simply did not convince me. There was too much evidence of a designer.

Gradually my interest in knowing more about God grew despite struggling at the beginning to come to terms with what being a Christian would entail. But by just starting to read the Bible I started to realise that there is a lot of practical advice to be found.

As the years have gone by some of my friends started to go to university or back to the land of their birth I found myself relying more and more on God for guidance.

There was one night where I remember feeling pretty down and somehow my mind turned to the thought of God being the only thing that gave me purpose in life and God could love me for who I am.

To a certain extent the feeling of having to tick boxes and not having to compare my life with other people was very liberating. As a result I am able to interact with people better and with more patience without getting so frustrated.

I have found a greater desire to take an interest in social issues. I like to read newspapers and websites to try and understand how people live in different situations both locally and abroad.

On the physical front my balance has improved and my medication has been reduced. One of the things I have learnt as a Christian is that you never stop learning about God and how he works.

There are still days which I find hard and still fail to live a perfect life but at least I know I can find guidance and comfort in the grace provided by Jesus.