Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, February 19

Back at Church

On Saturday I watched the film "In America" with Mrs.

This is a fantastic film, mainly about coming to terms with the loss of a child, and is partly autobiographical. Losing a child that has been born and cradled in your arms and that you have watched grow and have held conversations with is clearly far worse than my own experience with miscarriage. But since our own loss was more than just the baby but also all of the plans and dreams attached to it, we felt the message fo the film was very relevant. We cried. And we felt better. And afterwards I felt that I could go to Church in the morning, and actually worship for the first time since the miscarriage.

In the morning, Mrs told me that she had been up all night, unable to sleep because fo the rheumatoid arthritis, which has flared up as a consequence of the miscarriage. She cried. She felt that even now the miscarriage won't let go of her and let her move on. Having planned to go to church, she now felt she couldn't go, partly through sheer exhaustion but also because the problems were still overwhelming her. She went back to bed.

I carried on with my chores. I was supposed to be going to the early service, but now had to cancel. I stayed at home and wrestled with my kids. [I won, even against those who are bigger than me now]. I laughed. But in private I also cried - deep belly sobs, for the first time in years. I told God I couldn't cope any more. And I cried out to Him to heal her. Again. And again.

At about 10:30 I started telling the kids to get their shoes on ready for the 11 o'clock service. And Mrs emerged from the bedroom, dressed! So my prayer was beginning to be be answered!

We walked to church, slowly as she hobbled along like an old lady, taking 15 minutes over the normal 5 minute distance.

As we arrived, our cell group leaders responsible for our pastoral care, who had been conspicuously absent when all we needed was just a card from them, came up to us and made a public show of embracing us and welcoming us in. We barely resisted the urge to thump them.

The service was one which I would normally have raved about, with good songs and a powerful sermon. But it is hard to sing songs of love to the one you feel has wounded you and let you down. You know theologically in your head that that is not how it is, but that is still how it feels in your heart. And so for most of the songs, while the congregation danced and waved, we could only sit on the back row with tears streaming down our faces.

The sermon was about trusting those who have let you down, so it was very apt, and we felt God spoke to us through it.

Afterwards, still not really up to talking to people, we made a sharp exit and headed to Pizza Hut (a reward to our kids who all got exceptionally good comments from the teachers at their various school's parents' evenings).

In the evening I was supposed to be leading the evening service as part of my training, but they had phoned me during the week asking me to let the Vicar do it for some programming reason, and I was only too happy to oblige.

Today I couldn't get out of my turn to lead the Alpha Course group at work. "Session 5 - How and why should I read the Bible?". It went OK, but one does feel very hypocritical taking on the role of Christian teacher when one is so messed up and lacking faith inside.

Now I know that this will all work out well in the end - that is the whole point of me having a blog and writing about the ups and downs of the Christian life. But it is rough!


  1. May God continue to sustain and care for you both as you continue on.

    I hope your cell group leaders get a clue...

  2. Thanks for your ongoing interest and kind comments, Kyle. Sorry I haven't looked at your blog for a while - I can't handle anything deep and challenging at present.

  3. Simon,

    I'm so sorry; I pray God would surround you and your wife with His presence at this difficult time. I ask that God would lift the dark cloud that hovers over her and that she would experience great healing physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    Sorry your cell group leaders were not more supportive; often people want to avoid intruding upon the grief of others. I have been in several cell groups most have worked but some haven’t. On reflection, I think that our cell groups failed when we were not mature enough to face the ups and downs of life with honesty and real care for one another.

    In the midst of your own doubts and concerns about preaching and leading alpha sessions, I pray that God would be close to you and give you strength. I am reminded that Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, used to say “God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him”.

    Praying for you all

  4. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments on my blog recently! :) I meant to leave you a note before, but I got sidetracked....

    The leaders at your church that you mentioned in this post need to look at how their actions don't match up with the Bible... I am praying that it gets better.

    Keep trusting God.
    Praying for you --

  5. Hi Tara

    Thakns for your support and prayers.

    This post was written back in February, at a time of crisis and deep pain. Having said that, many of the problems remain. We still have no pregnancy, Arthritis is still crippling, and the cell leaders are still pretty clueless.

    And yet, though we have many unanswered questions, we still believe God will complete his purposes in us.

    And although I have commented on some of the shortcomings of the church in this post, on the whole it is actually very good. No church is without its problems!