Finding Grace to Feel Again
Filled with anger and frustration, Honiana had given up on living a fulfilling life for himself, but he would ensure that his kids had a better life. When his wife started going to church he tagged along. He doubted and would debate the points. This was not the name that he wanted for God, but would he ever learn the true name for God?
Life was pretty hard for a lot of my life. In fact, when I look back to being a kid, I'd become quite accustomed to disorder from an early age. And as I grew, things happened that were difficult. It was trauma. Those pains of life were growing and there was burden.
It reached a point where, when I was old enough, I took my own journey into drink and drugs. And I created a whole lot of new problems. Through that there was a definite unhappiness. A depression grew, and anger is something that defined me for a long time. I think things changed for me when I got into my twenties and I became a dad. I started to look more at my life because I'd become responsible for this amazing child. It's amazing, becoming a dad. More than anything, I wanted to turn my life around.
I spent a lot of time in rehab and with psychologists, psychiatrists and in meetings. I knew there should be more to life than how I was living. So I was trying to do the right things. I was trying to be a good father. I was trying to be a good provider, a good worker, pay my bills. And I was trying to live by spiritual principles, even though I didn't fully understand what they were. But I was not happy. And I had the shortest fuse ever. It did not take much to set me off. That's not the person I want to be, you know.
I used to complain to God. I think most Maori have an ingrained understanding of Atua in some way. So I spent a lot of time being angry at God. And most of it was, “Poor me. How could my life be like this? How did a nice guy like me end up in a situation like this?” I'd actually given up on myself ever having true joy in my life. And I was accepting that I'll go through life unhappy, but I will make a better life for my children. I was writing my own life off for a mediocre half-full life, with a lot of broken bones and broken bottles and broken teeth and a broken heart. A lot of despair. Because that's what it was. I was carrying this hurt. It's like broken glass in your heart. It was a hard time you know. I have a different story now because there's been a change in my life, which I'm so grateful for.
So my wife, she had an experience and she met Jesus. She came home and she looked different. I honestly thought she'd gone nuts. I thought she'd gone crazy or something. Because she was so happy. And she kept telling me I needed to come to church, and it was frustrating me. I thought what I'd do was go along just to appease her. So she'd back off a little bit. But I had already thought that it wasn’t for me. I didn't want my idea of what God was to be Jesus.
So I started going to church with her. Things started to feel weird. I started feeling more, started becoming emotional about stuff. But I was still angry and I was still depressed. We had an argument one Sunday. It was really sad. I was arguing with Maria all the way into church and I didn't want to go in. We'd got to the car park. I was so built up with all this frustration inside and I was angry and I was swearing at God. I was swearing at Him. I was demanding, “You show me something today. You show me something today that's for me or else I'm out. We won't be talking about Jesus in the home anymore. We won't be telling the kids it's that way.”
I just wanted to cut it off. I was at a real point where I was ready to just turn my back on this whole thing and walk away. I didn't want to accept a name that someone else had told me was the name of God. I'll call God Atua because I choose that name. I said, “You need to reveal to me that this is who You are. And if You do, I will call You Jesus.” I ended up sitting on my own. In this great big church with all these people around, there was this emptiness around me. Maybe they could see that they were so happy and I was just so stressed out.
I listened to the word, and the worship and intellectually I'd debate it or think that's just positive thinking. I was sitting in the seat and I felt separate from everybody else around. There was just me and this voice. And what He said was, "Maybe you've been here before. Maybe it was a long time ago." And in my mind I could see myself as this little boy. I saw myself in my home, running around, playing on the driveway and I just believed in a God and I didn't know what His name was and His name didn't matter to me. I was just a kid. And I just believed that God was good. Before any of this stuff had happened to me. And this voice said, "Perhaps it was a long time ago. I have a message for you." I started shaking. My anger had just drifted out. It had just dropped away and there was something else going on. It was all stirring inside and I could feel something inside me, a feeling, a warmth. It was unusual and it was strange. I knew that something was going on.
I started to freak out. Then what He said was, "It's okay to come back. It's okay to come back." And it made so much sense to me. In that moment, I went from being angry and frustrated to freaking out. He answered me. He actually answered me. I was shaking and crying. I'm a big guy. I don't wanna be crying in church, in front of all these people! I just went into a zone. I had given up. I'd given up on a full life for me but now I'm shown that there's a way. And you know what? I know the name of God today. His name is Jesus and that's okay. I'm okay with it today. And that in that moment, you know, it was the start of something unfolding.
One of the first things that happened was I started to feel again. I started to really love again. You know, I didn't realize that I was holding all that stuff back. I get up in the morning and I feel good. Now that stands out to me because I've had so much depression in my life. I used to get up like, "Oh no, it's gonna happen today." But I get up now and I'm like the dog with the wagging tail. I get up feeling good. And it stands out to me. So I don't wanna waste that. There's nothing I want to do more than to just dedicate my life back to Him. I've experienced that freedom. And I just wanna bring that to others. So yeah, that's my story.