After I read my resignation letter to my boss and walked back to my office, I told God I would never work there again. How could I after the hurt and pain caused by a place that boasts safety and healing?
It would seem that God would have other plans.
The Misuse of Authority
All too often, we hear how individuals have been hurt by the local church. And all too often, the hurt has been dealt because of the misuse of power and authority given to one, or a few, individuals.
That was the case in my situation.
When we speak up against this injustice, against this misuse of authority and mistreatment of staff in any environment, it often comes with high consequences. It can cost one their job, as it did in my case. I was not fired, as clearly that would have caused an uproar. Instead, one usually leaves because of the deep hurt, the reality that no one is going to do anything about the misuse of authority, and the exhaustion of working in an unhealthy environment.
If you were to hear me say those words without any context you would think I was talking about the business world and not the church. But unfortunately, the church, or rather people in the church, can cause deep hurt to others.
When we are hurt in the church, we often tell God we are done, through with His people. You could not have imagined being hurt by the place in which you had deep community with others and learned about God’s great love. I have often thought to myself, “You say in your word that you will never leave me nor forsake me, but I don’t feel that at this moment.”
And that is the problem. We often accept our feelings over God’s word. I have heard the phrase “I know it in my head, but I don’t feel it in my heart,” many times from individuals going through difficult situations. Feelings and emotions are not wrong, as God created us in His image. In Mark 12:40 we are told to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we read the Gospels we see Jesus showed many emotions. The problem arises when we get lost in our emotions and do not trust the word of God.
The problem arises when we get lost in our emotions and do not trust the word of God.
I struggled as I put in my last few weeks at my job, relying on my feelings more than the truths I knew in the Bible. On Saturday morning, one week before I was to leave my job, God laid on my heart Psalm 9:9 “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
I read that verse every morning before I went to work, remembering that God was with me and for me. When we are able to leave a place with integrity I believe that God is honored.
There are places in life that are supposed to be safe places; home, school, and church. The Church is supposed to be a safe place, a place where people heal from their hurts. When a place that is supposed to be one way turns out to be the opposite, in this instance a place that causes deep hurt, it causes confusion. It is at that time you can choose to turn your back on God for the hurt caused by sinful people or you can cling to Him and His word in the midst of such great hurt.
It turns out, that the one place that had caused such great hurt, the local church, would be the same place that God would begin the healing process. As I began to work at a new church, approximately a month after I left my previous job, healing and a sense of community began to take place. I felt like my soul had been crushed, yet this new season was life giving. I was reading through the Psalms when Psalm 34:18 spoke deeply to me. It says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” This pierced the deepest part of my soul and my heart held tightly to this truth. I prayed desperately for God to move me out of a place of deep hurt, which would require me trusting that He would save me from this dark place.
Instead of hiding away from God and the Church, I pushed forward, towards Him, even when I so desperately wanted to hide. The one place that hurt me deeply, He was using to redeem me.
The one place that hurt me deeply, He was using to redeem me.
Isn’t that the way God works? He often works in ways that do not make sense to us.
Our journey to healing occurs when we can take God at his Word and trust His truths over our feelings. The journey to healing occurs when we recognize that people are hurt and broken, just like you and me. You always have the choice when going through a hurtful situation, especially when hurt by the church; you can turn your back on God and walk away from the only relationship that truly matters or you can realize that God is always for you. He is waiting to help you move forward from your current situation.
Healing is a Process
Jesus talks about both forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation occurs when the two parties come together and the relationship is restored, it is reconciled. Forgiveness is about what you do, not the other person. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter says “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” As believers, God has forgiven us a multitude of times for our wrongdoings with His never ending Grace. We are to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The process of healing is difficult. It starts with being willing to forgive and allowing God to enter into the deepest hurts. Although we may never forget our hurts, we must choose to forgive, even when we feel that hurt creeping into our hearts yet again. The hurt may linger for a lifetime, but in those times I urge you to lean into God and remember that He is near the brokenhearted, and if you let Him, He will save your crushed spirit.
Our journey to healing occurs when we can take God at his Word and trust His truths over our feelings.
We have all been hurt in some way or another. For some, it has been by the Church or another believer. Oftentimes we are hurt by those who do not know Jesus. Think through the hurt that you have felt. If you have not chosen to forgive them, I want to encourage you to reach out to God now and ask for help in forgiving them. Choose to move forward and choose to let God heal you.
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Image Credit: Seivonia, Creative Commons