Hold on, hold on. She sent me a nasty email. How dare she do that! I have just been wronged. By a woman in the church. She wasn’t supposed to do that. I was doing a good job. Wasn’t I? That was the beginning of one of my experiences with church hurt.
I’m sure you have at some point been hurt by someone– family member, friend, co-worker. If you have been a part of a local church body you probably have been hurt by someone in church too. If you haven’t, hold on, you will.
Church hurt. It can be some of the worst hurt ever. A lot of us go into church with the idea that we are safe there. We feel it’s a place to be who we are and to be loved and accepted. Shortly after we get involved in a church and give or lives in service somewhere getting connected with people we realize that is not a true reality.
The reality that we thought we would find in church is not what is actually found. Instead, we find another group of people. We find people with the same wounds we have. Same experiences of hurt and pain, loss and failure and anger and jealousy that we saw outside of church.
Church Hurt Comes In Many Shapes and Sizes
I was sort under this impression when I began going to church and serving many years ago. I used to sing in the choir, and I remember soon discovering that if you can’t sing as well as sister so-and-so, you better now try to lead a song. You would get the eye and the looks of “why don’t you usher” instead. I had forgotten how painful those experiences were. It was enough to get up in front of people and put on the choir robe and sing anyway, let alone lead a song. Did they have to be so judgmental in their looks when I didn’t hit a note perfectly. I was singing to the Lord after all. He didn’t mind if I was off-key a little. Did He?
Years passed and I graduated to leading small groups at my church. I specifically remember leading a group thinking I was doing a great job. I love leading groups of women and people were responding. While I was in training, I felt I was connecting with the women there and doing a good job. Only later to be found with a nasty email by a woman in my group that said I was a horrible small group leader and worse.
Why Church Hurt Hurts Worse
I was so hurt. I was walking in the utmost level of integrity in my small group. Always on time. I was helping them. Giving them my time outside of group. I was studying for group. I was doing it right. But, this woman couldn’t see my heart and she was upset about some small incident that I had no idea was an incident.
To be quite honest with you, I was offended. Offended by someone’s words, written to me even though I was giving that person the best of me. I was doing the right thing. But yet, the pain of offense was horrible. I had, at that moment to make a decision on how to handle her and her email. I knew if I stayed offended, ministry would be very hard for me and I would not please the Lord. Church hurt felt bad in my moment. I was serving this woman and found it hard to look at her after her scathing email of me. It hurt because what she thought of me was not right and misleading and not who I was. I wanted her to know the truth. But because she was so offended I knew she wouldn’t listen. I had no defense.
3 Ways to Handle Church Hurt
What about you? How do you handle church hurt? I have three ways to share that might help.
Simply stated, harder to do, but absolutely necessary. Forgive the person or persons that hurt you in church. Realize that they probably didn’t mean it and if they did, that is not your problem. Let it go. Forgive. Tell God about how you feel and no one else. Do not spread the hurt around and cause more people to be offended. Forgive twice as much as you talk about it.
Love the person that wronged you. Do something nice for them. Give a kind word, compliment their outfit, buy them lunch or coffee, smile at them, and love them from the heart. Be kind to them. You never know what that person is going through in their own personal life. They may simply need a kind gesture to soften their heart.
Prayer is a stronger weapon than anything someone else can use against you. You need to pray for the person that hurt you. Pray for their eyes to be open to how they hurt you. Pray for them to repent of their actions or words towards you. We need to pray for their own hurt to be healed. Pray for God to bless them.
Overcoming Church Hurt
Be determined to let nothing stand in the way of your relationship with God. Not anger, unforgiveness, hatred, offense or your own hurt. Trust God with the situation that hurt you and let it go. See them the way God sees them.
Finally, remember that nothing can take away your pain from church hurt but God. He is gracious and loving to you and to the person that hurt you. I forgave the woman that hurt me and eventually got to the place I could speak to her again at church. Seeing her brought no more pain as it once did. God truly will heal all of our hurts when we surrender them to Him and Him alone.
Have you had an experience with church hurt? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Tell us your experience or your own tips for handling it.