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“Scream at God, cry out…” sparked off in me recognition of many of the feelings, frustrations, and questions described by the writer. I too have journeyed from identifying with ideas and concepts of God learned in the church, to abandoning them in a time of crisis because they no longer fitted into reality.

I grew up in Kenya, and was introduced to the church as a teenager. Being one of a minority of white people, I already had difficulty feeling I belonged. However with encouragement from my mother, I joined the choir, heard the salvation message, responded, and enjoyed a special friendship with a Ugandan woman refugee. I was confirmed in the church before I left Kenya to go overseas to study. Having attended a formal and somewhat “dry” style of worship in Kenya it was a shock to discover the Pentecostal way of doing things. I learned about the Holy Spirit and grace which revolutionalised my Christian thinking. I also started going through some emotional healing though I did not fully understand it at the time. Part of me liked this new style of church, part of me was seeking for something more.

Church did not feature much in my life for the next few years after returning home from overseas. Meeting my New Zealand husband-to-be changed the course of events. After getting married
and having our first son we moved to New Zealand permanently. Wanting to have the “ideal Christian family'' I'd read about in so many parenting and marriage books, I was happy to attend church and build the Christian foundations for my family. Although my husband is a believer, I found we had different ideas and ways of approaching things and after our second child arrived I realised I was trying to maintain the ideal image that I thought was expected of church going families, but underneath it just wasn't real. I grew spiritually and started to work through some big issues in my life at a time when the church I was in started to collapse because of division in the leadership. I became involved in trying to help save the church because it had become one of the crutches I was leaning on. I saw so much potential there for a better church and was devastated when the split happened and part of the congregation left.

My disillusionment with churches only increased and a change of job for my husband and a shift to another town solved my problem of what to do regarding the church. I was not in a hurry to join a church here and after a little “shopping around” we settled on the one I still sometimes attend. Gradually as the children got older their desire to attend got less, as did my husband's and I continued to struggle with disillusionment and loneliness in a place where I was supposed to belong and be able to be real.

A severe episode of clinical depression left me unable and not wanting to set foot in church again. I could no longer hide behind masks. A few people there were my lifeline for a while and I struggled enormously with feelings of guilt and doubt about it all. Just as the writer of the mentioned article said, I too “found God's silence deafening.” It was unbearable at times and I did “scream at God and cry out” and more, because I was so angry, confused and had lost hope in a loving God. I had to begin to reassess my views on healing, suffering, illness, pain, faith and spirituality.

For me too, the Bible and prayer became meaningless and are areas I still struggle with now, a year and a half later. I could not and still cannot reconcile some of the teaching about victorious living with my experiences. My view of God has changed, is changing and what I once held onto no longer supports me.

Through spiritual direction, sharing with others in the same predicament and reading about others' journeys of faith, I have learnt that this is a normal process of growth; to redefine and rediscover our beliefs.

I still maintain links with my church, because I have a group of women who know and support me and vice versa, and it gives me some credibility for the Christian work I do in the community. I would like to help instigate change in the church, but I am no longer comfortable with that being my only expression of my faith. I see myself in the sea with others who experience similar shipwrecks and have to abandon ship to find new life rafts. Perhaps we take with us something from the old ship that is still part of us, leaving behind what is not, but we do not lose our faith, rather grow into new dimensions in it.

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