I don’t know how to start this. But my heart is hurting for them, so this is post is dedicated to them.
Them? Yes, the ones who’ve been wounded deeply, but not by who you think. I think when we think of someone hurting us, we think of an “ex” or “dysfunctional family member” or “bi-polar boss” or even someone you thought was a friend but had their own agenda. But it’s not often that we think of another person in ministry or in a church setting. That is, until you’ve been the one hurt. And that’s where I begin.
This past week, I’ve run into several what I call “wounded warriors.”
For one reason or another they’ve left the church or the ministry they were involved with because something or someone went too far.
I want you to know that every time I hear of someone’s story whose been hurt. It’s hard to hold the tears back. Maybe it’s because I recognize and feel their pain. Recently, A wounded warrior, who did not know me until that day, prayed over me and I could no longer hold the tears back. She said, “Please comfort Christi because what she gave freely was used against her.”
I’m not writing this to demean anyone, but just to say that there is a real heartbreak happening not just outside our church walls but inside as well. It seems to be a topic the church remains silent on. I understand why. It’s very sensitive and we don’t want to be accusing our brothers or sisters. But at the same time, how does that saying go, “crap happens.” It’s hard to speak about it without doing more damage. However, there are a ton of “them” running around with a massive cannon ball wound in their heart. They have been so deeply wounded they want no part of church or ministry and I just want to say, I can understand where they, or you, may be coming from.
We are ALL a mess. The only difference between those inside the church and those outside the church is that we just admit we need a savior. Yet, sometimes, people in the church or ministry (me included) forget to admit that I need a savior and I try to do things on my own. I think this is where the hurting begins.
I am writing this blog to let you know that I am so sorry for the pain you’ve endured and I wish I could make it better.
I’ve seen first hand leadership that nearly destroyed those it was leading. I’ve observed unnecessary pressure that lead to physical ailments. I’ve seen those under leadership so fearful to make a move for dread of being chewed out. And also, fear of staying too quiet because that would be an issue too.
I’ve observed scripture thrown at people as a weapon. I’ve witnessed people’s character called into question and called traitors for no purpose at all except to usurp their power. And, I’ve seen people isolated and be called “out of Gods will” because they didn’t align 110% with the leader. I’ve seen false accusations of demon possession, seduction and adultery. All this for what? The sake the Gospel? The inflicted wounds were NOT coming from people who disagreed on beliefs but claimed to know the same God of love.
I’m sure you’ve heard “God told me this about you.” or “if you leave you won’t be under God’s blessing because God has blessed me and you’re under my umbrella.” “I’m your spiritual leader and your accountability so you need to tell me x,y or z.” You know what this is? Manipulation and an abuse of power and authority. And it is wrong!
I have never heard worse thing spoken about amazing people than when I entered the “ministry.” I have at times witness more support from those who didn’t attend church at all.
I get that there are some gray lines in ministry and in the church, but demanding information and using against someone else is wrong.
When someone allows you to pray for them, that is a PRIVILEGE and we should do everything within our power to PROTECT that person and that prayer request and deliver it safely to our Father, not to Julie or Jose.
I’ve heard a good leader is a good follower. Leadership should not be a dictatorship. We are one body with many parts. One part is not more important than the other. The people under a leader trusts the leader with information and that information should be protected and that person should be protected. Jesus shepherded his people. He was not a slave driver.
I still cry to this day because of some of the situations I faced. In fact, I cried just a few days ago. You know why? Because the situation that came about wrecked me. It was like a tsunami. It invaded and decimated my heart, mind and soul. A tsunami is a natural disasters and it takes a while for the place hit to come back from such devastation. And even after “coming back” it alters the landscape. The same is true for the warriors wounded by those in the ministry. I know I will never be the same person I was when I first was in ministry. I carry that wound with me.
I think the worst part about these situations and fall outs is that this is not the heart of God. In the midst of my situation, I got to the point where I’d cry (behind closed doors : the bathroom, hotel room, on lunch break) every day. It felt like my heart was pried open. It was one of the most confusing and conflicting times of my life. How could this be? We are all supposed to be on the same team.
But God was with me and I’ve never felt him closer than I did then — even with the confusion. I was reminded of his grace when the legalism was skyrocketing. I was reminded that only He is the judge — not them and not me. I didn’t even have the right to judge myself.
So my friends, I just want to say to the ones who’ve been hurt. I’m so sorry for what you’ve endured. I know no one is perfect, but we choose how we behave. And I believe the ones causing the most damage have unhealed wounds that are driving the hurt now inflicted on you and others.
So, my two cents is this: take time to heal. It will take time and perseverance. Get mad, take a few good licks on a punching bag, write your thoughts, share your story, get it out— don’t hold it in… And ask God to help you trust again. I know I need to do the same with other situations now. But give yourself time. It’s a wound and it’s a huge loss… and know that there are other wounded warriors that are here ❤️! I also want to add don’t give up on church and ministry. Take a break. But don’t give up. There are some amazing people. No one is perfect, but God can still use this pain as He uses all our pain.
Lastly, realize that restoration this side of eternity may not happen. Pray for it, seek it (if God is prompting you) but know we live in a fallen world and reconciliation might not happen in this life time.
“IF it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
And if it’s not possible, as Old Dominions says, “Love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart.”