Years ago, our youth director shared something that I still think is brilliant.
She shared about the pain and fatigue any of us can feel in serving God through church:
When someone is hurt by a church organization, it’s a special kind of pain… there’s something deeper and kind of unique about the hurt that comes from realizing the imperfections of an organization that is supposed to be God’s representation on the earth. What do you do when the place you thought you were supposed to be able to go to for healing and life is the exact place that tears you apart and drains you?
Before I go on, I want to say that if you’re in that position right now, I wish I could hug you. And that’s a big deal because I never want to hug anyone. But my heart hurts for you. I understand that pain. Maybe not on a deep level, but having a small taste of it has given me enough of an understanding to extrapolate into how horrible it must feel to someone who has experienced deeper wounds than I.
She went on to list some categories of people who may need a special word of encouragement. Perhaps you’re in this somewhere?
- The Wounded Victim: You did not deserve what happened to you. It is not your fault. It was absolutely not the will or desire of God that you experience the abuse that you have suffered. The wounds of man are not the wounds of God.
- What you need to know: God sees you. He really sees you. He knows the truth of who you are. He sees the life that you are capable of experiencing. He sees the joy that your eyes are capable of exuding. He sees your brokenness, but he sees you whole. He looks at the battered, broken seed that is your heart right now and it makes him sad that someone could abuse that which is so valuable. But he knows that your story isn’t over. He has more for you.
- What God says: Revelation 21:4
- The Burned Out Servant: You are the one who poured out everything you had because you loved the body you were part of… but for some reason they just didn’t seem to reciprocate that love on a level that was anywhere near enough to refill your tank.
- What you need to know: Your service was seen and appreciated. You are treasured and your contribution was valuable.
- What God says: 1 Peter 5:6-7
- The Shamed: You messed up and feel that decision even today.
- What you need to know: You are more than your failing. Beautiful, shame-filled person, God doesn’t see your sin! He sees you. He sees the wounds that led to your failing. Because trust me, that’s exactly what led to it. He sees the hurt and the lack that you’re trying to fill, and he doesn’t condemn you for looking to find life, healing, and joy. He understands. He has a better way; in him lies a more complete answer, but he understands. The Bible says that we do not have a High Priest (referring to Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weakness. He knows. And he adores you.
- What God says: Micah 7:18-19
- The Pastor: You are a church leader others look to, even when you don’t know where to look. The loneliness is common.
- What you need to know: You are allowed to feel that pain. You are allowed to express that loneliness. You don’t have to hold it in. You are allowed to be human. Yes, there will be people who are offended by your humanity. But that’s ok. Let yourself be human nonetheless. You’ll find there are some who will embrace you. Maybe not where you are now, but they do exist. God has them lined up for you. Just for you. He desires community for you, too.
- What God says: Matthew 11: 28-30
The burned out servant.. maybe they weren’t really serving, but seeking power or their own gain. The shame-filled, maybe they have been abusing grace and refusing to allow the love of God to transform their hearts. Perhaps the “victim” simply is someone who likes to stir up strife and exaggerate situations. Maybe the pastor is lonely because he has positioned himself to be so.
There are exceptions to everything. But I write to those who are genuinely wounded. I pray that there would be a heart-searching that happens. That you would do a check of your own spirit to see if you had any hand in misappropriating a situation.
But in the end, the bottom line is, hurt is hurt. If you’re wounded, no one can tell you that you aren’t. The Lord wants your wholeness. He loves you and values what you can bring to the table. He has good thoughts for you. Don’t lose heart, you precious soul. You are made for more.
Is there anything in here that you needed to read today?
What about something to share with someone else?
You are not alone. Praying for you!