As a Pastor’s kid this phrase was all so familiar to me. That family that left the church, those people who hated my Dad (whaaat? nooo.) It’s most definitely in the Christian-ese Dictionary. But over the years I have realized: Does anyone actually know what anyone is actually talking about when they say I’ve been hurt by the church?
Lots goes on in a church. There’s relationship, community, leadership, those intense flaggers, and everything in between. A lot can take place when you bring people together under one roof and decide to do life together. It can be beautiful, and it can be messy. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be the perfect breeding grounds for hurt, offense, bitterness, and rejection. But let’s take a minute to realize that all of these things actually can’t necessarily be allotted under the title of “the Church.”
So many people blame ‘the Church’ for their hurt and pain. But what we so often forget is that ‘the Church’ is made up of human beings. Human beings that are imperfect by nature, but who have a perfect, loving Father that can nurture them. Yes, we are the Church. Of course. However, we make the terrible mistake of discounting the entire body of Christ because of what one person or group of people IN the Church has done that has hurt us.
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5
What I love about how the Bible talks about it, is that it mentions how we are most definitely one, and yet at the same time made up of individual members. This is key. Key words: made up of individual members. As in: free will. As in: just because one person does something terrible does not mean the whole freakin’ body of Christ is to blame for it.
Yup, I went there. #sorrynotsorry
Now hear me out: I am not discounting someone’s pain, nor am I justifying wrong and hurtful behaviour in the body of Christ. I am simply shedding light on the truth of what can sometimes take place in our hearts.
The reality is, it’s tough to be in community! Where there is vulnerability, there is always the chance of getting hurt. And when you invest into others and allow them to invest in you, it’s scary. We don’t like being called out on our stuff, and sometimes we don’t like being stirred. But that’s what the body of Christ is all about. He calls us into beautiful, messy, vulnerable relationship with others because He knows we need it. When community is done well, it is the most rewarding, satisfying, and encouraging way to set ourselves up for success in our walk with God.
Where do your expectations lie?
It’s so easy to get caught up in what seems like the perfect Christian bubble where anything slightly off-kilter throws us unto a tailspin. It’s like we’re all walking around with this habit of pretending everything is going the way it should be, and “im great thanks, how are you!?” become default words on a Sunday morning. As I pointed out before: we’re all human beings. Life is not perfect, relationships are not perfect, we are most certainly are not perfect… so why do we expect the Church to be perfect? You can’t blame a flock of geese for being geese simply because you expected swans (and with geese comes geese poo).
The good thing about God is that he surpasses any and all expectations we could have about Him. Phewph.
So how do we move forward?
It’s actually that simple.
I’ve seen it over and over again where someone has been hurt by a person in the Church, and they decide to walk away from the Church completely. And then they wonder why life isn’t as easy anymore, or why they can’t seem to shake off what happened. You will know you’re walking in forgiveness because the sting of offense is no longer crippling. Remember: the Bible calls us to forgive, but it doesn’t say “forgive and forget and then invite them over for lunch on Sunday after church”. It’s hard. God knows it’s hard. Don’t give up just because you aren’t seeing immediate fruit. I tried to pull a Martha Stewart once and grow carrots, and much to my annoyance they took all summer to grow and then when they were finally ready they were the mini carrots instead of regular sized carrots. But God knows. And they tasted the same.
Bottom line, we need each other. We need community, and we need the relationship in the Body of Christ to be at a new Godly standard. Don’t walk away from it all and settle for less than what the Church was created to look like. Get up, dust yourself off, and try again knowing that while there is always going to be the possibility of a setback, you won’t be one.
I’ll finish with the wise words of a wise dude, “Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to keep your love on toward someone who has become a perceived threat—you cannot guarantee what he or she is going to do. But you can guarantee your own choice. And you can always choose connection.” ―Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries.
Signing off again with a smile. My name is Talia, I’m a bona-fide Pastor’s kid and hopefully you’ve never been hurt by me.
Let’s keep it that way.
*Read More from the author: In Low Times Reach High, In High Times Reach Higher