My Personal Faith Story
The following is the story of why I stopped being angry at God, in spite of a world that is full of suffering…
At 14 years of age, I began screaming at God in the privacy of my bedroom. I was angry at the world and felt that God wouldn’t talk to me even though I was demanding answers.
This silence infuriated me and I believed God must be a mean spirited God who didn’t care about the violence and starvation in the world, let alone anything personal in my life.
In rage, I set about publicly rejecting Christian ideas and inflicting terrible wounds on my Christian family through my bold and angry attitudes. I started lying to my parents about where I was and ended up getting out of it and defying as many rules as I could at this early age of 14.
Even as young as this, I felt completely determined to do these things, as if I knew all the answers in the world. As each school year went by, I got angrier at the world and focused my anger against God and religion.
When I left school, I became hell-bent on fighting the injustices in society against women, Aboriginal people and minority groups (in principle) believing the rules of power groups such as the church to be the cause of persecution. I became politically passionate through university, throwing myself into student unions, feminism, and general causes that were against anything that was remotely like an “institution of oppression”.
I was so proud. I believed that I was intellectually motivated with noble intentions and I was sure my energy would keep me going. I stormed on, determined to fight against all the unfairness I saw in the world.
Each morning, however, I would wake with a more and more serious internal, philosophical debate about the purpose of the day, the week and my schedule as the world’s cruel systems continued. In restless confusion, I changed degrees but was soon convinced that the University scene and study in general was flawed in its integrity. It seemed there was a theme of ideas that re-occurred across too many subject areas (that weren’t in themselves related) and this felt contrived. I wondered if I was becoming a victim of an imposed world view even if this world view was trying to teach me to challenge imposed world views.
The disenchantment started to mingle with depression and emptiness, and by 20, I was smoking pot more often than I was working constructively toward any world change. I was also indifferent to the goal of working towards a good paying job as it seemed pointless because everybody still hurts and dies and “what was it all for anyway”.
I eventually ran away from University near the end of the degree, disgusted in life in general. I hated the hypocrisy and aggression of politics and I hated the lack of truth and respect in so many situations between people. By 21, I was acid tripping, binge speeding and smoking pot from the moment I woke to the moment I slept.
With the good feelings of the drugs, I didn’t have to fight social injustice or think about dissatisfaction. My mind could be at ease and the world was reconciled simply because it felt good. But as the speed would wear off, the ease faded and the panic of a hazy, crazy world would set back in.
Even though I thought I was cynical, I gravitated towards a career in the social services still trying to reconcile social injustice while living in complete addiction and depression. I achieved management positions at an early age, but in disgust again, (this time because of pointless paperwork and social problems that seemed too big to ever solve), I went into a commercial hospitality business.
Unfortunately, this was very successful and led to a ready supply of cash flow for continuous drug taking. In an attempt to be clearer without drugs, I meditated regularly, white-lighting my environment and merging with spirits that I believed would positively help me. The spirits gave me a sense of power in an ability to supernaturally gain information and to bring events into being with focus.
These times of spirit merging were another form of euphoria while it lasted but invariably left me feeling like a train had run over me.
Dissatisfied with this, I stopped it, but I regularly felt the presence of the spirits anyway. Their presence started to be accompanied by more and more destructive thoughts focusing on fearful and depressive ideas that increasingly led to wanting to die, in spite of a seemingly charmed life with business and boyfriend.
One messy night, I crossed the line and was going to commit suicide. I thought I couldn’t cope with one more hour of such restless, inner panic. At the point of decision, the thought of Jesus cut through my mind.
Even though I had been taught as a child that Jesus was God (who loved me), the idea surrounding Jesus and the cross just seemed absurd to me. But I acknowledged that it was the one concept that I had not been open to in terms of making sense of the world. All I had done was aggressively dismiss church and ranted against the Bible because of its seemingly bigoted nature regarding women and socially marginalised groups and its seeming irrelevance to my world.
But now that the alternative was death, the following thought spilled out through my distress, “Jesus, I don’t understand who you are or what the cross thing is. But I need help. Please help or I’m killing myself”. This was the first moment that I stopped shaking my fist at the universe long enough to open myself up to the possibility there could be answers and help beyond my own intelligence.
Having called on the name of Jesus, he fully answered my first sign of genuine curiosity about him. I was soothed out of that dangerous night and led eventually to one of my sisters, who along with others had been trying to share Jesus with me for years. I was now ready to ask questions and actually listen to the answers.
For the next few months I met with her and others from her church and flung all my reservations about Christianity in a barrage of questions to them. I listened to their answers as they explained why they believed Jesus was God and why the Bible could be trusted. Even though my stony heart was still a force of habit, I could feel the pounding inside me start to slow down as passages in the Bible started leaping out at me in their beauty. Things just started to make resting sense.
Rather than causing oppression, the words of the Bible commanded a kind of selflessness that seemed different than the Mystic principles I had been dabbling in. I started to see the Bible as brilliant because it showed a plan that has been going on all through history where justice and love can both happen at the same time because of what Jesus did through his life and death.
My face visibly relaxed from its tense sternness and started smiling. My internal war against everything lost its rage and I started feeling joy and rest as I accepted God’s word in Jesus.
Some days in this early time of change I would look at myself as if looking inside my body and would be startled by what was happening to me from the very most core of me. I started to feel sick at the ugliness of most of the words coming out of my mouth and I started to want different things.
The best part of the change was the way that reason started to come back. My drug-affected brain had gotten so messy that people had stopped making sense to me in any sphere, and I was panicking that there was no real meaning or semblance of anyone truly connecting or understanding one another.
But it was like God’s hands reached inside my mind and sewed the fragments back together and breathed life into me.
As I studied more, I began to believe with more and more certainty that Jesus can be described as the Living Word because he is the expression of God’s love and truth on earth. I believe that he can give us life because he is the only person ever recorded in history to rise from the dead.
I believe that all the evidence points to him being God and that my only hope for peace and eternal life, is to have Jesus stand in front of me, so that God the Father sees only the perfect life of Jesus on earth, and not my imperfections, when he acts in justice against evil. I believe this is why Jesus lived, and all I need to do is accept and believe in him for my soul to be able to live forever with God.
Since I have been sorry for my arrogance and accepted Jesus in this way, I have never felt alone. He lives inside me and gives me peace at such a deep level that I have learnt to trust him even when things seem like they’re not going ‘well’. His daily wisdom and comfort are worth more than ANYTHING anybody could ever offer. It’s beautiful.
It has been a process working out where my previous beliefs fit in. I now believe that untempered selfishness oppresses all humankind, and that this, not the Bible, is responsible for oppressing women. Rather than requiring women to passively submit to men, the Living Word requires all people to be actively gracious, submitting to one another in love and softness of heart, rather than indulgent promotion of self-seeking rights at the expense of those around us.
I believe that wars and conflict, are therefore not caused by Christianity, but rather, by the impulse to ignore God’s word.
Looking back on my life, I can see how the ideas that seemed so right to me once, now seem so destructive. My choices ended up hurting others and myself deeply, and usually led to more anger, rather than resolution. This pain, combined with the faithfulness that God, through the Living Word has shown me, has caused me to be open to the idea that there is wrong and right in a reality beyond my experience. I accept more and more, my finiteness and God’s infiniteness; and amazingly, this is a good thing.
Life still has its challenges, as I believe it will for the rest of my life on earth. But I have hope now, and a reason to live and look forward. And I have the Holy Spirit as a gift from God to comfort me and change me from my past and more into the beauty of Jesus.
OAK (album mp3)
O A K album by Pamela Joy
14 track digital download MP3
Christian folk music with songs of lament, repentance, grief, forgiveness, love, restoration, rest and joy in Jesus Christ.