I shared in yesterday’s post my conversation with a stranger who, like me, was dealing with Church hurt. (You might want to read that first by clicking here.)
As I mentioned previously, I’m unintentionally happening upon others who are walking their own path of this familiar road. It’s no wonder I’m not alone, as the Church is filled with broken people, just like me. Broken people who are imperfect, and flawed, and yes… who sin, and who are also trying to find their way in this journey of life. Even as much as I disagree with it, there is hurt and pain in the Church, just as there is throughout the world.
It’s no wonder Church hurt happens. The Church is comprised of imperfect people.
This doesn’t make the hurt okay, but it may explain why it happens.
I pray my words extend hope for healing and restoration for any who are journeying right along with me.
As I listened to this man’s story, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own experience. As the memories surfaced, so did the emotions. It’s evident I’m not fully healed, but I can tell I’m getting closer. I can tell the damage that was done is having a lesser effect on me than it once did. And I can see how God is using my past pain to help others carry their burden through theirs.
God is healing me and giving me opportunities to trust the Church again.
I shared briefly with this new friend what helped me deal with my own experience of Church hurt and how I survived. The details are below:
I drew near to God.
So often when someone experiences Church hurt, he/she might be tempted to turn his/her back on God. My relationship with Him (thanks to God and Bible Study Fellowship… I’ll share more about that next) was too important to me to do that. I desired His love, His presence, and His protection. I poured out my life to Him, and prayed for the healing of my wounds, and of my heart. It was not only me who was walking through the pain, but also my husband and teenage children. I prayed (and still do) for their continued healing. And I asked God to give me the ability and peace to forgive my offenders (easier said than done).
I found support through God’s Word, and through friends.
It was mid-year of my 17th year in an in-depth Bible study called Bible Study Fellowship. Even though I wanted to run from all Christians at the time, my commitment to my BSF leadership responsibilities was the reason I stayed. (I’m so thankful today for that!) There, God blessed me with a group of women who came alongside of me, who prayed for me, who loved me through the pain. Many never knew exactly what I was walking through, but nevertheless, they were there. BSF is designed to support its attendees in their church, not to replace it. But during the years of the aftermath when our family walked away from the Church, BSF, right or wrong, became my “church,” and helped me stay in God’s Word. (To find a class in your area, go to bsfinternational.org.)
I stayed open to God’s plan.
Through this time of healing, I seriously thought my church days were over. I guessed our family’s church would be at home, reading God’s Word and praying together. And I was okay with that. I never dreamed then, in just a matter of years I’d be working at a church! When God opened an employment opportunity for me at a local church two months ago, I honestly didn’t think it was for me. What church wants someone who has been hurt by the Church? But now that I’m there, I see God is mightily at work in me. Just last week I chuckled to myself…
Isn’t it just like God to draw me back to organized church through this job as He restores and renews my perspective of it?
No, there’s no “perfect” church. But working in this one has been healing for my wounds and my heart. And, what’s even more amazing… our family is beginning to attend their Sunday worship services! God’s plan is bigger than we can ever comprehend!
If you’ve been hurt by the Church, or know someone who has, may I remind you…
God sees, He knows, and He cares.
He’ll keep you in the palm of His hand if you’ll allow Him to. The ways to deal with the hurt may vary, and your path may differ from mine, but there’s hope as we trust God through the pain.
I’m praying for us all today.
Looking for more?
Enter your email to instantly access my FREE RESOURCES - exclusively for my readers!
Your information is safe with me and will never be shared.
Julie, I identify with everything you describe here. It’s interesting to me that those of us who have experienced this level of church hurt go through somewhat of a ‘grieving’ period. Just like you described, we too had a time where we felt certain we would just have home church and study as a family. Over time, God began to bring healing (as He always does) and give us the courage to step out again in fellowship with a church family. Thank you for this post, friend, such a blessing!
Julie, first of all, I’m so sorry for the pain you and your family went through. I truly understand as I experienced a similar grieving process when I left the church I had been a part of for more than 30 years, the last two and half on staff. It was heartbreaking.
But God, in time, brought blessing upon blessing out of that painful experience. At first, my husband and kids wanted no part of church or God for a while after the hurtful experience in 2008. But, like you, my own Bible study and personal relationship with God drove me to finish out my commitment to leading the Bible study group and I forced myself to find a new church. I would sit there each Sunday in tears as I grieved the loss of my beloved home church but God used that new congregation as a shelter of healing. And it was an important witness to my husband and kids who eventually returned to church. We ended up finding a new church home that has become a special place to minister and be ministered to.
Forgiveness came with time and obedience and a lot of prayer! I also ended up publishing a Bible Study, Remaining in the Vine, about the fruit that came from my church hurt experience and my decision to nestle in close to the True Vine in the aftermath. I’m so happy to see God is doing a similar fruitful work in your experience. Thanks for sharing!