My Life with God

When Church Is Traumatic

I listened to a newly-released song that expressed the hurt the artist had experienced at VBS as a child. The song threw daggers at the church. It’s hard to hear harshness toward something we hold near. But church people aren’t the only ones to experience the spewing of pent up frustration and pain. Sometimes, we’ve been the ones who have inflicted the frustration and pain. Maybe not personally, but the church is a community. It’s a we. And we/the church need to realize that we/the church have hurt others. Until we’re willing to listen, we won’t grow. And I’m not referring to growth in numbers. I mean healthy growth, individually and collectively.

I hate that the church has been a harmful place to people. I’ve certainly experienced hurt in the church but not the harm and damage that other people have. I don’t have to personally experience it to acknowledge others’ experiences. But we need to recognize and acknowledge it to help people. It makes me sad that there is a subculture and maybe not even a subculture of people who have been damaged by the church when they were at their most vulnerable whether because they were kids or because they were already hurt and looking for help. I don’t like that there is support for walking away from the church, for slamming the church, and for accusing and blaming the church, but it is part of people’s healing process and we have to be patient with that.

God certainly understands. He doesn’t want people hurt by the church. He doesn’t want people to reject him because they’ve been hurt by the church. How can we love people where they are even if they are hurtful in the process? They lash out and spew on people in the church who they believe might try to ignore or justify what has happened, or even try to explain to them how the place of their hurt can become a place of their healing? That is difficult to grasp and accept. And it is usually not the place to start as we meet people where they are. We can take some of the brunt of their hurt, not taking it personally but acknowledging it as an important part of the healing process.

We’re not clueless, or at least some of us aren’t. We are sadly aware and we are trying to make a difference. We are trying to listen. We are trying not to fix you or apologize and move on or make amends but to build a relationship with you and help you find a kind and patient heart to help your hurts.

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