Monday, December 14, 2015

Blood on the Pews

“Your tears don’t move me,” she said.

The coldness rang through her voice like a dagger straight through my heart. It was an emotional tag team between anger and hurt. How could she be so cold? How could she be so vile? In that very moment, I realized,  I’d officially experienced my first “church hurt.”

I decided to have a conversation with a woman at my church because I’d felt she’d offended me during a meeting a few weeks before. I found myself holding on to a bit of grudge and had to pray. The more it ate away at me the more I felt the need to talk with her.

I caught her standing by herself after church service one Sunday, and I went for it.  I went in with no expectations and my guard completely down. My heart was beating a million beats a minute. I was vulnerable and nervous, but I simply sought for reconciliation. Because she was an older woman and held a title in the church, I assumed I could walk away with a relationship and maybe even mentorship, but I was sadly mistaken.

Instead of the civil, simple, and productive meeting I thought we would have, her tone and attitude immediately turned to judgment, chastisement, and belittling.  As our conversation progressed, the tears began to fall because I couldn't seem to hold back my frustration, shock, and anger toward some of the things she expressed. And that’s when she said, “your tears don't move me.”  Her words were like bullets killing my spirit and it was obvious there was a deeper issue in which she held against me.  Instead of taking me under her wing to nurture and support me, she was shutting me down and pushing me away. And away is where I wanted to go. Away from her, and absolutely away from the church.  She practically opened the door and pushed me out.  So why even go back?

Now, I've heard numerous stories of people expressing their disdain for the church, particularly because of a hurt they experienced from a church leader. But It had never been my experience before this. I honestly looked at people as being extra sensitive and over exaggerating their emotions, using it as an excuse not come to church or an attempt to tear it down. Was it really that serious? Church people are the same people in the world. We give them way too much credit I would say. But as my grandmother would always say, “just keep living.”

I simply thought it couldn't happen to me. I was stronger than that. As the saying goes, "I could take a licking and keep on ticking." Nothing truly hurt my feelings and absolutely no one person was ever going to make me feel like leaving the church! 

But the truth of the matter remains, I was hurt. I opened myself up to someone I sought wisdom and guidance from and was overwhelmingly and shockingly disappointed. Am I still upset, yes! Does it still hurt, yes! Even as I type, my heart becomes saddened and then angry, but I know I must forgive. It’s essential to my life and where God is taking me.

I’ve certainly realized that we inadvertently hold church leaders, and church people, in general, in such a high regard that we strip them of their humanness. We keep them at such a heavenly place that we make them earthly angels instead of sinful humans trying to make it just like the rest of us.  Now, don't get me wrong, as leaders, and simply as Christians, we have responsibilities and obligations and must be accountable for our actions. I say this, as I was the main one scared to take on the title of “minister” for this very reason, knowing that I would mess up and not be the saint many would assume me to be.

As I talked with my mother, she attempted to bring perspective by saying, “She probably has some really deep issues. You should pray for her.” Pray for who?? The woman that literally told me with a straight face that my tears meant nothing to her. Pray for who?? The woman who is suppose to be a leader and an example to other women to look up to but extended her foot and instead of her hand to keep me down instead of lifting me up? Right. Pray for her. That’s actually quite funny, or is it?

I was emotionally drained and couldn't pray if I tried. Although I’m “seasoned” in the Lord, I was still grieving in my spirit and angry. The next day God began to deal with me. Early in the morning, God urged me to pray for her. Let me tell you, the prayer was quite short; something like, “Lord help her, amen.” But I did it, simply at the urging of God and not my own motivation. I’d sought out other friends to pray for me and even to pray for her as well. I knew where I was and it was seriously going to take a village to heal this hurt.

As I acknowledged my hurt and disappointment to God, He had to remind me that this world is dying! People are dying EVERYDAY. Hurt people hurt people. We must learn to love one another, forgive one another, and understand the spirit of darkness is working overtime to keep the people of God from their destinies and to keep the name of God insignificant.  We must be clear that scripture does say, “For we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood, BUT against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12).

At this stage in my walk with Christ, I have too much to do, places to go, and people to impact. I'm looking at my future like P. Diddy, “can’t stop, won’t stop!” My battle is not with her, but against the spirits that operate within her and others. I'm clear that my battle is on my knees. It’s not a game out here. The war is not just in our streets, neighborhoods, and foreign countries, but it's in the church as well. And just like our neighborhoods and streets, it doesn't necessarily make them bad places, but it does make them places in which we still need God!

In my best preacher voice: " I'm going to give you these three points and then I will take my seat!" LOL

1) Acknowledge your hurt and speak truth to it.
Only you know how much the person hurt you and how it made you feel. Don't negate your feelings. You must acknowledge them and truly acknowledge why you feel that way. Then you can deal with the root of YOUR issue. Because your hurt is more about you than it is about the other person

2) Talk about it to people who will pray about it
When we're angry and hurt we will talk to anyone who is willing to listen. Even through our hurt we must use wisdom. Seek those who can pray for you, with you, and who will even be willing to pray for your offender. It truly takes a Village.

Forgiveness is a process, but it truly is absolutely for your good! As I walk around giving her the side-eye, I'm missing my blessings and stunting my growth. Set the person free so that you may be free. Know that God has the best revenge and it is in His perfect timing, whether you ever see it manifested or not.

I would love to hear your story of "church hurt". How did you deal? How did you pray? What was the outcome?