Healing from church hurts

Picture of the inside of a church

Unfortunately, a good number of people raised in church have left the church, and most often, not because of theological disagreements but rather because they’ve been deeply hurt. They’ve been told they’re too much or not enough, and have been shut down when they honestly express their emotions and struggles. Others have experienced the toxicity that almost always comes when the unhealthy and emotionally and spiritually immature are placed in leadership positions.

Quote from post on tan background

A few weeks ago, the lead minister at my church and another pastor discussed the pain many have experienced in the name of religion and then apologized for wounds they, intentionally or not, inflicted on others. And while I thought briefly of various hurts I’ve experienced throughout my faith journey, that wasn’t the primary message my heart received. Instead, God brought people to mind that had scars because of me. Those driven from rather than to Jesus, because of my behavior. Caused by fear, defensiveness, and pride. 

I knew God wanted me to follow my pastor’s lead, and so I did. I began reaching out to those I knew I’d hurt. Women who, through my actions, words, or lack of, I’d made feel unvalued and unseen. And it didn’t matter whether or not I’d had provocation. If their sin or dysfunction had triggered the sin and dysfunction within me. Granted, there’s a time and place for honest discussion, when wounds remain. 

But mine had healed. And besides, in these situations, I’d been the leader, the one who was supposed to model what it looked like to live and love like Jesus. To get my needs met by Him, to find my identity in Him. Ultimately, to receive strength and encouragement from Christ and a close circle of mature and Holy Spirit empowered peers.

I neglected both, people were hurt, and God wanted me to take responsibility for the pain I’d caused. To make it clear, though I may have represented Him in my role, my behavior had not.

He wanted me to live out His commands in Matthew 5:23-24, where Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against  you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (NIV).

Words from Matthew 5:23-24 on tan background.

And so I did, and I can only hope my honest apologies helped heal those wounds my words and actions created, wounds that may even have driven them, for a time from the church. At the very least, I hope they were able to see Christ’s love and grace more clearly.

We all have a responsibility to create safe, healthy places where people can experience God. And we all have areas of dysfunction that threaten those same safe places we’re prayerfully trying to create. This means, you and I will hurt people along the way, and we’ll also get hurt. When others wound us, may we seek comfort and healing from Christ, refusing to retaliate and grow bitter. And when we’re the ones to cause pain, may we own up to every behavior that taints the image of Christ within us. 

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’ve experienced church hurt, you might find the latest Faith Over Fear episode helpful.

Not So Divine Detours (Genesis 12:9-29 Faith Over Fear

Sometimes we may look at our circumstances and try to take matters into our own hands, forgetting God’s calling on our lives or His promises for us.  In those moments, we take a detour off of the path, a way that is of our own human understanding instead of in his perfect calling. In those moments, it is important for us to remember that we can never get so far away from God that we can’t come back and, although we might take our eyes off of God, He will never take His eyes off of us. (Scroll down to find the group discussion questions) Find Jodie at: https://www.jodiebailey.com http://whollyloved.com/meet-the-team Find Wholly Loved Ministries at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/443325386241769 Link to previous episode, when Abraham is called to leave everything to for the Promised Land. Group Discussion Questions: What resonated with you most in today’s episode? How do you feel when you realize that God never takes His eyes off of you? When is an example of a time you heard God calling you to do something? How did you respond? How does it make you feel to read about Abraham’s mistakes and sins in the book of Genesis then to know that, in Hebrews 11, he is commended for His faith? How can you apply that truth to your life? Who can you talk to and pray with about returning to God when you stray? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  1. Not So Divine Detours (Genesis 12:9-29
  2. Courageously Proclaiming Our Faith (Genesis 12:5-8)
  3. When We Fear We've Blown it (Genesis 13:1-4)
  4. Bravely Embracing the Unknown (Genesis 12:1-4)
  5. Breaking Free from Dysfunction

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