When was the last time you went to church? Whether it was sometime this week or it’s been several years, it is likely that while you were there, you were surrounded by some hurt people. You may not have noticed their hurt but it was there and it needed God’s touch. Maybe you were hurting and needed a healing touch. And maybe, like many others you left feeling more hurt than when you arrived.
“Maybe you felt judged or rejected or were disappointed.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with people who were hurt through experiences in church. And it’s not uncommon to see articles and posts about this topic on social media. There is no denying that this subject is something most of us know about first hand. And many of us have very strong feelings about this and have the scars we can point to if we are willing to share our stories. Your story may be an experience of not being seen or noticed when you were there needing a healing touch. You may have felt like there was a place for you there but you didn’t fit with any of the groups. Perhaps you saw favoritism or an inequity in treatment of yourself or another. Maybe you felt judged or rejected or were disappointed by someone there. You may have been hurt by a leader, a group, or another individual you were trying to build a relationship with.
It’s so important that you hear this. If you have a church related hurt, you are not alone. You are not silly or petty. You are not spiritually inferior. You are not being overly sensitive or exorbitantly critical. You do not lack faith. You have a wound and it hurts. This hurt will impact your ability to feel a connection with God and with others, and if unaddressed will become the lens you look through at church, at other believers, at leaders, at yourself, and even at God. The most important thing is to move toward healing that wound and relieving that hurt.
Each of us responds differently when we are wounded. Some of us try to hide our hurt. Some of us feel like it’s our fault that we’ve been hurt. Some of us tell everyone how hurt we are. Some of us just check out and say “I’m over this whole church thing.” Depending on how we respond, we may get stuck in that wounded spot where we are vulnerable to having the wound deepen and keep us bound up in hurt, or we can learn some strategies with help from the Holy Spirit to receive freedom and healing to move forward.
I’m not going to toss Scriptures at you to tell you that you need to go to church every week or you’ll be easy prey for an attack of the enemy. You’ve already seen that the enemy can attack you right there at church! And I’m not going to suppose that I have the answer for healing every hurt that may have come through church involvement. What I will tell you is that God designed us to do life within the context of community. And church is part of your community. There are a few basic things to settle in your understanding if you want to get on the road to finding healing.
“your hurt is one of the ways the Holy Spirit is able to teach you about something you need or any area He wants to help you through so that your faith can mature and grow stronger.”
Your road to healing will be blocked if you need to place blame; if you require acknowledgement or validation; if you insist on an apology before forgiving; if you disconnect from relationships with mature believers and leaders or isolate yourself from people and situations that make you aware of that hurt. In fact, your hurt is one of the ways the Holy Spirit is able to teach you about something you need or any area He wants to help you through so that your faith can mature and grow stronger.
The journey will look different for each of us. The deeper the hurt and the longer it has gone unhealed, the longer that road to healing and freedom may be. God is faithful. His Spirit is ever there to lead and teach you and help you along the way. God has put specific people around you to speak truth, healing, and life to you. God has not given up on you or abandoned you. He longs to see you healed and whole and able to joyfully connect with Him and His kids. Hold on to Him. Remain in Him. Be on the watch for those He is sending your way. Ask Him to help you recognize the individuals you can trust that will walk with you on your journey and challenge you to contend for your healing and freedom. He loves you and wants you to experience a life better than you can imagine. So take courage and make the first move today.