Someone in our church was hurting. It started as a difference of opinions. We were praying for guidance and there was a disagreement over where God was leading us. Feelings were hurt.
What do you do when you are hurting for the one who’s hurting?
It wasn’t intentional, but it was done. We had hurt someone in our church family. Ironically, we had volunteered to be the ones to deliver the news because we didn’t want them to get hurt. But it didn’t matter.
Looking back, we could have handled it differently. We should have handled it differently. Our hearts were in the right place, but we still dropped the ball.
And knowing we hurt them, hurt us. But there was nothing we could do. The damage was done.
Church Hurt Is Never One-Sided
Over the years I have heard story after story about church hurt. What I never realized until I was involved was that all of those stories were extremely one-sided. Not that what happened to them or what we did was any less wrong, but there really are two-sides to every story, and two sets of feelings involved. Two hearts, two people, two sinners saved by the same Savior.
There really are two-sides to every story and two sets of feelings involved. Two hearts, two people, two sinners saved by the same Savior.
I understood all sides of the issue at my church. It was an impossible situation that wasn’t handled the best that it could have been. I understand that. I know why the other side was upset. In all honesty, I would have been, too. My heart hurts for them. But nothing I could have said would have changed the hurt they were feeling because of our church.
And it is ours. We are a family. A close one. So, in a division like this, the pain cuts deep.
So, we did the only thing we could do. We leaned on Jesus.
I knew their hearts were hurting, but I can also tell you that my heart was breaking.
Thankfully, our story had a happy ending.
The love our church had for Jesus was stronger than the desire to hang on to the offense. We were willing to reconcile. When harsh words were spoken, we didn’t let them fester, we reached out in love because we knew we were in the wrong. We knew the pain behind the anger.
And in the end they were willing to forgive us.
Church Hurt Happens
We wished we hadn’t been the cause, but we knew we were. And it wasn’t just us, it was our church. That knowledge broke our hearts, as we cried out to God not to let it extinguish the fire in the hearts of His people or their passion for Him.
Because when the church hurts someone, it can cause irreparable harm. I know, because I’ve been on the other side of church hurt, too. Where someone within the church has hurt me.
Forgiving isn’t always the easy choice, but it’s always the right one.
And looking back, I know I will never look at church hurt the same again. Because it was easy to look at church hurt as a thing. As a wound inflicted by an organization. But that’s not what church hurt is, because that’s not what “church” is.
Our church is a family. And when a family member or several family members hurt someone else in the family, that wound cuts deep. It can tear the family apart. But God calls us to reach out and love one another. To forgive as Jesus forgave us.
That’s not always easy, in fact, I would say that’s never easy, but with the help of Jesus it is always possible.
The truth is, church hurt is bound to happen because the church is made up of people, and people make mistakes. We are all sinners. We are going to hurt one another. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.
But when we keep our focus on Jesus, we can forgive one another with His help and keep on loving one another even when we fail.
Join The Conversation
Have you ever been hurt by the church, or been on the other side of church hurt? Join the conversation in the comments below.
If you liked this blog post, you’ll love Heather’s new book, Candid Conversations. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Get your copy from Amazon or click here to learn more.