I was on a podcast recently, and they asked me how I healed from Church hurt. I replied, “I was also healed from church hurt by the body of Christ.”

In other abusive situations like domestic abuse, people can’t stay, expect to change someone, and hope to find healing in that place. That isn’t safe. And like the Church hurt, I didn’t get healed by the same people in the same circumstance. I was healed by the love of Christ displayed by the body of Christ in other communities.

Church Hurt

I’ve written extensively about the Signs of Spiritual Abuse and Healing From Church Hurt. If you resonate with this content, I want to discuss why we should still love and be a part of the Church. I want the focus of all my content to be healing and finding freedom in Christ. I’ve learned we can’t do that apart from His body (believe me, I tried.)  

If you don’t know my story, here are the unfortunate highlights. I was abused by a Catholic priest as a child. After I got saved in my 30s, I was on the staff of a church, and the Sr. Pastor invited me into an affair (I said no and reported it to the elders). While on the staff of a mega-church, I experienced manipulation, control, and inappropriate physical touch. 

So I get it. 

And I didn’t give up. I made my best friends in the local Church. I saw the power of community. There was no place I’d rather be. Which is why I’m passionate about sharing these painful stories too...So you know you are not alone and help you heal. Plus, there are wonderful pastors, Churches, and communities who will not do these things. 

I feel like the ugly side of Church has gotten a lot of attention the last few years. I’ve contributed to it. I’m not apologizing for it. I know my heart has been to warn people of wolves and to help people heal. I’ve received so many messages saying it has done just that. Praise the Lord! 

Consider this: What if we are to address our concerns about what we see and experience as an expression of love to the Church? That is my heart. I don’t think exposure, for exposure’s sake, is the heart of God. 

We are to love one another so well that we don’t let anyone fall to the enemy’s schemes. We see the gold in them and the calling on their lives. I remember crying out to God for the leaders who were hurting me to repent, not for my sake, but for their sake. So they wouldn’t be disqualified but rather restored for God’s glory. 

Long story short, after trying a few churches, I realized I had C-PTSD (Church PTSD, not Complex PTSD). At first, I would feel like a bundle of nerves entering the building. I liked the fact that no one knew me and I could fly under the radar. I think that had a place for a season and God used it to minister to me. Eventually, as I walked through this season with trusted friends, I found it to be a place of refreshing once again and I look forward to seeing familiar faces and having conversations about how wonderful Jesus is. I want that for you, too.

Being a leader in a ministry, I probably had an easier time staying connected to the community than most. I am a part of two different masterminds with leaders (pastors, missionaries, ministry leaders, etc.) worldwide. Between them, we meet three times a month for accountability, encouragement, and prayer. I had to choose to be vulnerable and share where I was struggling to trust leaders again. 

It also meant:

  • Trusting people who held the same title or role. 
  • Taking a chance of being perceived as not healthy enough to serve as a leader because of my struggles, pain, or questions.
  • Believing the process was good and God would make gold from my experience. 
  • Resolving that I would stay connected because it was worth it.
  • Remembering I still had things to offer the Church. 
  • Allowing myself to be accountable and open to new perspectives. 
  • Observing myself and letting God reveal where more work needed to be done. And then do that work, whether spiritual, emotional, or mental.

It meant not giving up on the CHURCH that Jesus loves.

My Encouragement to You

I recognize that for many people, their whole spiritual community is connected to the Church. So, choosing to move away can be heartbreaking and life-changing. I’ve heard some terrible experiences, and I can see why some people don’t want anything to do with “organized religion.” If that is you, I’m so sorry. I’m sad they hurt you and for all the continued pain you have endured. You are seen by a loving God who will not waste anything you’ve gone through. 

You may be in one of these two camps:

1) While you’re going through your healing process, it doesn’t help to hear that God will use this to give you wisdom and help others. Right now you are in pain and want that Christian community but may be afraid of engaging again. It’s hard to reconcile, “I want to go back but I’m afraid” and  “I don’t want to go back but I miss ____ (worship, small group, friends, etc.)” I hope it helps to know there are people in the Church who are trustworthy and will love you in the midst of your pain. Find those who you can stay connected to — even if just two people. They are the key to your healing. I promise you it’s worth the risk. 

2) For some of you, you’ve stepped away from community and feel like it’s okay. I’d like to suggest you ask God if there is anything He has for you that you can’t access outside of the body of Christ. He may have blessings for you that you are missing by remaining numb and disconnected. He will show you. Maybe community isn’t a building for now but staying connected in other ways. I have several friends who have found home churches to be a safe haven for them.

So why do I still love the “Church?” Because Jesus does. If I want to carry His heart I need to let Him heal mine so I can receive His. 

I’ve experienced healing in my heart because of those faithful saints who far outnumber the wolves in sheep clothing. They remind me that Jesus’ plan for us is good and we need each other. I’ve seen the body rally around someone who needed care during a health crisis or someone who needed help with finances. I’ve also seen the little things like a random text  saying God put you on my heart and I wanted to tell you I love you. I think the body of Christ loves so well.

One day, you’ll find yourself looking at the pain in the rearview mirror. The only thing you see is a beautiful road filled with others like you who are seeking the heart of Jesus.

Pin It on Pinterest