To my Friends wounded by the Church

Dear Friends wounded by the Church,

As I write this, each of your faces come to mind and tears fill my eyes.  For you.            And for me.  Because I am one of you.

Maybe it’s because I am that you’ve felt safe to share your pain with me.

You’ve experienced exclusion,

poorly handled conflict,

shaming,

power struggles,

dishonesty,

truth-telling with out grace or hope of redemption

from a church you’ve loved.

And a church I’m sure would say is trying to do its best.

But I think of the particular circumstances each of you have endured at the hands of people who say they love Jesus and mostly I just can’t believe it and I want to rail at the injustice and shake “someone” and make it right, and undo the pain.  But instead, maybe I could tell you a story.

Last summer when I was on a bike ride through my neighborhood on a beautiful warm breezy day, my shoelace got tangled in the gears of my bike and I swerved and was stuck and took a wicked bad fall, gashing my knee gruesomely and dripping blood everywhere leaving quite a trail of evidence for the CSI folks should they choose to investigate.  It felt scary and unexpected and I felt out-of-control.

To add to my humiliation, a bunch of my friends, men, women, and children, were out in their front yard and witnessed the whole awkward debacle.  And I couldn’t even get up because my shoelace was still tightly tethering me to my gears.  The whole group of them ran over to me all concerned and one of them ran back to get a wet towel and a super-hero bandaid which was so sweet.

For days and weeks and months, that wound was tender and though it scabbed over, it got easily bumped and would start bleeding all over again.  I’d experience set-backs in the healing process and I learned to not be around the people who would carelessly stumble into me and my fragile wound.  Instead, for awhile, I needed to choose gentle friends and counselors who loved me and would be patient with my ugly scab and listen to the story of how it happened.

It was some of those same people who, as I began to heal, were able to help me ask about my part in the wounding and where God was, and what He might be teaching me.  In the process I realized that my fists were clenched a lot – clenched in determination to fix things quickly.  And they helped me to unclench them and patiently trust Jesus to do His work.

I believe we get better if we want to.  But today, I still have a very noticeable scar that will probably never disappear.   This scar is my reminder to be careful, wear my helmet, and try to be gentle with other riders.  Oh, and tie my shoes more tightly.

The other day, a friend who’s recently been hurt and disillusioned by the church said, “I don’t see how you have hope and why you keep showing up.”  The church does, often, make me sad, but it’s not the church I trust in.  It’s Jesus.

To my many friends who, like me, have been wounded by the church I would say don’t give up on Her.  Because Jesus hasn’t given up on Her.  Or you.  Or me.  And we are the church.

Speak the truth.  Be gentle.  Look for Jesus.  Admit your own brokenness.  Forgive.  But don’t give up.

For whatever reason, Jesus has said the Church is His Plan A for loving the world.

Ahh but we’re a messed up bunch, aren’t we all?  So it’s a good thing that included in Plan A is  the cross and forgiveness for all of us.

Have you been wounded by the church?  What has God used to help you heal?

17 thoughts on “To my Friends wounded by the Church

  1. “To my many friends who, like me, have been wounded by the church I would say don’t give up on Her. Because Jesus hasn’t given up on Her. Or you. Or me.”

    Don’t you think that because we *are* the Church, and because God doesn’t give up on us, that’s why He hasn’t given up on the Church? The Church is broken at times because *we* are broken. Maybe instead of “Be the change you want to see in the world”, we should say “Be the Church you want to see in the world”.

    Great post, btw.

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  2. Hi Laura,
    I’m so pleased that I read your Blog today. What a wonderful story. Thanks for speaking to my heart and for your encouraging words! It’s great to be reminded that pleasure lies in the heart, not in the circumstance. You are an inspiration.

    Like

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  4. Laura,

    I stumbled across your blog today and it so fits with the prayers I’ve been praying, asking God for His wisdom about.

    One man in my little portion of Christ’s body speaks his words from a business model of positive attitudes and success. I experience life in Christ so differently that his words, though never intended as harsh, always seem to rub my spirit raw.

    I am contemplating speaking to him though I am not sure that he will hear me.

    He is an older man that I don’t want to disrespect.

    I am vacillating between speaking with him and just praying for him and letting God do the speaking. Then I ask myself, But what if God wants to speak to him through me?

    Any experience with this?

    Like

    • So hard that balance of grace and truth!
      Whether you speak, and what you say depends a lot on the context and the type of relationship you have with this man I think. What degree of trust and acceptance is there between the two of you? Have you talked much about personal things or only work issues?
      Without knowing the specifics of your situation it’s hard to know how to respond to your question, but if what he’s saying is wounding you, I think you can be honest and say something like “You may not realize how strongly you are coming across, but I have a different perspective and the way you express yourself feels (hurtful, dismissive, demeaning…whatever you feel) to me.”
      If it’s more than that – like if want to go into more detail about where you disagree with him, I think praying for some indication of openness would be a good idea.
      You know the saying “Hurting people hurt people.”? It may be that he is speaking out of deep pain in his own life and asking a few questions and just listening will give you more insight.
      Sorry…long answer and I may not be tracking with you but I hope this is helpful.

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      • Laura,

        Thank you for a reply. For the most part your answer was fine for my situation. I like your idea of praying for openness…on both our parts. Not only asking whether he would really want to hear me but also am I willing to hear him?

        As far as “hurting people hurt people”, I think it’s more the case of a successful type-A businessman expecting everyone else to be the same:)

        Thank you!

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  7. Amazing God brought me to your blog today. After a long life of mistrust God has gently been showing me his grace and trustworthiness. Which I might add a little at a time in different areas of my life. He is once again showing me through hour blot an area I have been sorely struggling with and trying to control – miserably and unsuccessfully. Thankyou for your obedience to our Abba Father in sharing as He has spoken through you today.

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    • Lisa, I’m so thankful God has used these words to continue to reassure you of His deep love for you. It is amazing to me the ways He shows up to remind us that He sees us – every tear, every wound, every question, every joy. May He bless you as He gently woos and encourages you to trust Him.

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    Like

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