Church Hurt

Here I am, singing "This is the day" on a lovely Sunday morning. I've got my pretty new dress on, heels high, feeling super confident! I go to hug a church sister as is customary for me, (I am THAT church member). She then says to me, "you've put on some weight." To top it off, she squeezes me and smiles under the pretense of “love”. In this moment, I think to myself: "how do I respond to this lady while maintaining my Christian values?" This is an occurrence many of us may unfortunately face while attending church. Maybe your church hurt was expressed differently than mine. Regardless of how the hurt was imposed, I encourage you to ask yourself: “If God is an intentional God and can use all things for His good, is He teaching me something here?” Often times we become locked in the hurt, and that hurt can immobilize us from furthering our walk with God. See the distraction for what it is.

Was I taken aback? Yes. Was I hurt? Yes. My only response however was, "I feel great!" How many times will you allow unsolicited opinions to ruin your day? This day, I was not going to let that happen. Let me be clear, "church hurt" is no joke. Here we all are in "God's house" celebrating Him together, only for this moment of joy to be almost sidelined by robbery. I say robbery because what was said to me threatened to steal my confidence, my desire to continue interacting with "these church people", and take the focus from the One who really matters, Jesus Christ. For the remainder of the service, this comment did not occur to me at all. I was heavy into the sermon which is a message in itself: "all your concerns seem to disappear when you focus on God, not your problem(s)."


There have been times when I have unfortunately said hurtful things to others and felt justified in doing so therefore, felt little remorse. I really thought I was doing the right thing. Is it possible that this church sister felt the same? Sure! However, when our opinions tear one another down, this is not biblical. This comment was not received in a loving or kind manner. It did not change the reasons behind my weight gain—it discouraged my heart and as the body of Christ, we are called to encourage as appropriate (Ephesians 4:29). What was said only caused me to think in superhuman time of unkind options to respond to my church sister. Who really needs to perpetuate the petty? Who wins then? Surely not God.


With the help of God by spending time with Him, I am RE-learning how to truly love by God's standards and not my own. To "love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31 NIV)" means the same grace (immense compassion) that you would like shown to you for whatever battles you are fighting (seen and unseen), is the same grace that you must extend to a brother or sister. What if I would have felt just in stating to this church sister her issues? It may have felt great in the moment to exact on her a version of the punishment she just gave me, but the word says things like this: "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19)", if your brother sins against you, forgive him seventy times seven times (Matthew 18: 21-22), or “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15 NIV).” Because I know better, I am obligated to do better. Therefore, I must also “hate what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9 NIV).” I am learning how to let the word of God fight my battles. I can only apply these truths of God's word because I've spent time with Him learning them. It is now easier for me to think of biblical responses to people rather than exacting my own dose of worldly vengeance, big or small.


The church hurt is real out here. The bible warns us not to allow our judgements to cause a “stumbling block” for others (Romans 14:13). This was her wrong. Had my church sister approached me in love rather than judgement, I may have received her opinion differently. My mom has taught me this very valuable life lesson: "it is not what you say, but how you say it." The bible says this: "you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8). " I do not share this verse to scare anyone into being more kind, but this is assurance that what you give you will get. Will it always be with the same measuring tool with which you used to inflict your hurt? With human rules, you never know. But rest assured, it will return to you. The word also says:


“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17 NLT).”


What I actually did was tell two other people what was said to me and vented about how I wished the encounter would have actually gone. Y'all, this is petty and not biblical. What I did was sow a seed of contempt into my own heart and share negativity about my church sister. If this seed has the chance to grow, or I allow her comment to fester and eat at me, I will most likely dislike this church sister and prepare my stones for her next opinion. Can we be honest here? Storing up stones can feel great, but it appeals to the way the world operates and not God who we profess to serve. This is wrong. We are not to conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). This means our actions have to also reflect who we serve. When we were children, we acted as such, but now that we are adults, we place childish ways behind us (1 Corinthians 13:11). How do you know you are maturing in Christ? When the things you use to do, you do no longer. Another way you will know you are maturing in Christ: when you show mercy instead of judgement (Amos 7:9). Church hurt does not have to be the end of a relationship or your attendance to a church. Sometimes however, it can be the catalyst for the will of God which includes a new beginning somewhere else. Seek God on this one.


Challenge: Do better, my brothers and sisters. There are eyes and ears waiting to call us out for something we say or do that may be perceived as biblically wrong. Do not deter unbelievers from God even more because our house isn't in order. Especially, do not hinder believers who may be in the early stages of their walk with God. We are not to knowingly cause others to stumble in their walk. God does take this very seriously (Matthew 18:6).


Encouragement to get you by

11/7/19

If God told me years back that I'd be where I am now, I'm sorry, Lord, but I would have called you a liar. Now, I know You can't lie. Now, I know You are faithful. Now, I know You love me. Now, I am more trusting of Your words even when they don’t seem to make sense. All I can say is this: stop allowing any and every one to teach you God. Seek God. Ask God yourself. If you are like many others at this time, you have not gotten here yet. Please know God created you for a purpose, He loves you, He has definitely NOT forgotten you. There is an appointed time for all things under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3).