I just finished the book Stumbling Towards Faith by Renee Altson. It was the single most powerful story I have ever read. The book begins by these words:
i grew up in an abusive household.
much of my abuse was spiritual-and when I say spiritual
i don’t mean new age, esoteric, random mumblings from
half-wiccan, hippie parents. i don’t mean that i grew up
thinking all the wrong ideas about religion or what it meant
to be saved because I was given too much freedom or too
many options. I don’t mean that my father protested the
phrase ‘under god’ in the pledge of allegiance or told me
there was more that one way to heaven.
i mean that my father raped me
while reciting the lord’s prayer
If those words don’t capture you, I don’t know what will. This story let’s you take part in a journey of unbelievable abuse from family to church to friends. Renee bares herself to her reader and she let’s them know what its like to be on the outside. This entire book is exactly as the title hints, about her stumbling towards faith. I don’t just mean stumbling, I mean falling face first over and over again in her spiritual walk, and living in a constant state of thinking she isn’t good enough and allowing the pieces of herself to be thrown everywhere but in God’s hands. The story is amazing.
This is an excellent book to read if you ever feel like you don’t have it figured out, or if you ever feel completely submerged in the messiness of Christianity. She allows her hurt to be portrayed and then leaves you there, knowing that when she makes herself vulnerable it is then that God scoops up the pieces and begins to mend her.
This story touches me, because I think I’ve been on the other end of this story. I’ve been that crazy assistant pastor that told someone they can’t do something for God because they are living in sin. I’ve been there and pointed out people in the midst of their struggles and kicked them off worship teams. Not for their benefit or for even God’s. But to simply make the worship team pure. I should have been the first to go.
This story puts me in that person’s shoes. This story allows me to see what one goes through. The loneliness and grief that one can go through trying to meet up to man’s expectations is incredible, and this book captures those feelings.
Read this to be completely rocked in your ideology of toleration of sin and holiness. Being in there shoes really changes things around a lot.