When You Need Someone to Hold Hope for You

It was years ago now, when the doorbell rang and I dragged my weary, wounded self to open it, my eyes perpetually aching from tears that I could not seem to stop.

I felt destroyed, demolished.  As if a mack truck, driven by a team of people I loved and trusted, had run over me without a thought and as I lay mangled in the intersection folks walked by, happy and oblivious to the damage they had passively assented to.

I was exhausted, and lonely, and tired of battling despair.

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“That” Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

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To my Friends Wounded by the Church

We’re in the throes of wedding planning, with family coming into town this week for showers.  So today I’m re-sharing a post that seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  It will be new to those who have joined us in the last year.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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.

From a church that 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.

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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?