Still Reeling - The Truth About Being Hurt by a Church and it's Leadership.
Nearly. And yet, it still seems very fresh in some ways. This time of year is now a hallowed time. A time to remember "when" and examine where we are now and how far we have come. A time to glean lessons and take notes.
It hit me today how long it has been and yet the effects are still reaching out. Rippling on and on like the pebble was just tossed into the pond. That is a real effect of sin. Take note!
Take serious heed church leadership. Selfish and prideful decisions change the very fabric of the people you are charged with and there will be a price to pay one day. Be warned about the seriousness of your post. The heaviness of your decisions. The ramifications of hurting a soul created by God.
I have so many friends in leadership that I want to sit down with and make certain they get it. "This is precious cargo and YOU are responsible for being fragile with it. Take that SO SERIOUSLY."
I cannot count the people still hurting. Still in pain. Still not in church to this day. People dealing with depression and anxiety. People who cannot trust a pastor or a denomination. Because one leader, took a selfish turn. Ignored mentors. Twisted words. Abandoned others needs to sooth his own goals. Hundreds of people hurt by ONE. They weigh on me daily.
Some still pretend it didn't happen. Some still deny it. There are still people who won't speak to me because I *will* speak up for the broken and the hurt and not just sweep them to the side.
Over these three years I've had some deep conversations about this event in particular and those similar and the way it changes people. The way these things ruin church for people. How selfish choices pervert the way Jesus calls us to love one another and serve our communities and not our "mega church" goals.
It dawned on me on my way home from dropping the boys at school this morning...
My life goal is to love well. I mean every word of that. LOVE WELL. Not change. Not convince. LOVE WELL. End of story. I think that will keep me busy for the rest of my life. As I was thinking about that goal this morning and remembering what this time of year means I felt like the Lord spoke to me the way He does sometimes....a gentle reminder and nudge that nothing is wasted.
"You want to love well at a deep level? Even people who are not kind, or don't agree or do wrong things?....This is how we grow that. We get into the mess created by man and we do the hard and holy work of LOVING ANYWAY".
We grow through storms. We learn through challenges. We take nothing for granted. We dump it ALL out onto the floor and pick up every precious piece and we examine it with fresh eyes and tender hearts.
Coming through maybe *the* most painful event of my adult life (my church and it's family being decimated by it's leadership) has forced me to really examine my beliefs and practices. No more blind trust. No more innate sense of optimism. My very spirit and self has been forever changed by a church's leadership. And I am one of hundreds.
It is taking a lot of work. I will be honest. I want to quit. If I did not have children I would NOT be going to church. I am working hard to shield them from my struggles and work on my position with intention so that ONE DAY, when they face a similar thing I can show them what endurance in the face of difficulty looks like.
My faith in the Lord has not wavered for a second. Do not mistake my lack of faith in the church for a lack of faith in THE Church. God *is* using this very difficult and tender time to grow me. But it is painful, long and arduous.
My message to you if you've been hurt? Go back to Jesus. Walk it with Him. Let Him in and let Him begin with you the hard work of picking up the pieces and only keeping the useful and beautiful. Talk about it. Remember, families with secrets stay sick.
My message to you if you're in leadership: TAKE IT SO SERIOUSLY. Do not for one second forget that the choices you are making can have deep and lasting consequences. You chose the holy work of leading His people (because God does NOT force himself on us!) and that comes with heavy responsibility and the damage you have the potential to do is as great or greater than the good you can create.
Hang in there friends. Do not weary in doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest. We serve a God who says what He means and means what He says. If you need prayer or support, email me. I can wade through it with you.