There was a “funny” trending topic circulating social media a few months ago. The topic – church hurt. I remember thinking how it’s sometimes thought of as amusing for people to fall and hurt themselves. Videos are even made for the purpose of laughing at someone’s possible broken bone and pain. Emotional hurt, though? Still funny? Especially the kind that jeopardizes spirituality and personal relationship with God. Church hurt can cause you to look at professing Christians negatively, hinder church attendance, and even affect your relationship with God. It led to keeping me out of church and away from fellowship for years.
There are lots of different reasons why one might feel hurt or betrayed by the church. Reasons range from feeling abandoned by their church home when they think they need them the most to feeling misled by the entire religious organization. I’ve heard a wide range of stories. For me, though, it was just simply feeling like the church didn’t do enough to help people. That’s so broad right? Exactly!
Well, I felt like if I was faithful in giving my tithes and offerings on a regular basis then when I needed financial help I should not be denied for any reason. Now, I have no clue as to the dynamics of how church finances are set up. I do know that being denied after submitting a hardship application hurt me to my heart. Then there was the time that I ran out of gas in front of a random church. I thought it should have been a no-brainer to rescue the young woman and baby stranded outside during choir rehearsal. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I lost all interest in the idea of the church. After all, I can spend time with God all on my own and not even have to leave the house.
That’s when I started separating my Christian faith from Christianity. How did you do that, Jakeetta? By changing my perception of church folk. I looked at church goers who claimed to represent the love of Christ as completely hypocritical. I was hurt, and the church was to blame. For many years, I saw the church as a group of people I wanted to be nothing like in the aspect of giving back and love. This couldn’t be the body of Christ described preceding a whole chapter on love in 1 Corinthians. I would much rather stay at home on Sundays. Why in the world would I use my time, energy and gas to go sit amongst people I didn’t believe had the same perception of Christ that I did. I seriously allowed being in my feelings about the church to keep me from stepping foot inside of one for years. I did not need to attend church and I felt completely justified in my decision. This would in no way change my relationship with God. Wrong! Not only was there no spiritual growth, there also a decline in my faith.
I wasn’t the only one affected by my hurt feelings. I remember always being in church growing up. Yet while I was skipping out on church fellowship my children were also missing out on having that same Christian upbringing. I didn’t want them to possibly have to deal with the same agony caused by the church that I had felt. So, for many years they didn’t attend services either. My church hurt had even contributed to my children not being fully “trained up in the way they should go”.
It’s funny, though. I’ve been hurt by men, women, friends, and even family. If my boyfriend cheated on me, that hurt didn’t cause me to swear off all men forever. It was much easier to get back out there saying things like, “We’ll try it again.” or “Next time will be different. I’ll put up a wall see who breaks through it.” Why then did it take years to get over church hurt? My grievances against the church not only kept me out of fellowship, but also consequently out of the will of God.
I recently realized that if I was able to neglect my relationship with God because of something that I believed that mere man did then my faith was in man and not in God. I had unrealistic expectations of man. Men/women are fickle. We change all the time from our minds to our moods. We make mistakes. Sometimes we unintentionally hurt people. Intent doesn’t make it hurt any more or less. But God is not a man that He should lie or change. While we are to love all of His children the same, we ought to put all of our trust in the one who will never let us down. I like the way the Good News Translation says it:
Don’t put your trust in human leaders; no human being can save you. ~ Psalm 146:3 Trust only in the Lord.
I pray healing over those who have deep emotional scars caused by a church or Christianity in general. It is my hope that you come to understand that you can start recovering right now. No matter how long it’s been or what you’ve done during your break from church. Trust me, I did A LOT!!! You can make a conscious decision to forgive man and maybe even be the difference that you felt was needed in the church. You can’t do that sitting at home. Consider this, if I had never asked God to heal my heart from my own church hurt you would not have just read that.