Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heartache via the church and her people

I wasn't going to go to church last night. I love my church, but I'm over the top irritated with all things Christian lately. I'm frustrated with some friendships. I'm annoyed that people have not turned out to be who trusted them to be. I'm tired of people wanting me to drop everything when they have a bad day, but can't be supportive for five minutes when I really need them. I'm tired of people putting denominational differences ahead of someone's heart. And I'm sad.

To be fair, I think church life is extra hard for single, divorced, separated, alone people. Just by social infrastructure, we don't fit. Thankfully, I've come to terms with worshiping alone after several years of resenting it. I almost, sometimes, prefer it. I can just be with God and not distracted. I certainly don't miss people elbowing me during parts of the sermon!

It's amazing how easy it is to get hurt in a church setting, and how unbelievably painful. Equally disturbing, how long it takes to recover. And once you've been hurt, it seems simple things get instantly multiplied way out of proportion. Once those you've trusted to hold your spirituality hurt you, it seems likely everyone will. Once harsh words are spoken within sacred walls, it seems hurt is lurking around every corner.

Humanity is fragile. The church is not immune.

So, in a brief moment of faith and maturity, I went to church last night. My current issue is not with those people. It's not their fault. I don't even really know most of them. But, they represent the church to me and I wanted to be away. I knew if and before I made my way to the alter I would have to forgive. Again.

Kneeling at the alter, I remembered life's a risk and church is not an exception. I forgave intentional and unintentional hurt. And as I heard these words. . . . .

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
You have graciously accepted us as living members
of Your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and You have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve You
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

And I forgave myself, too.


Sue said...


Although there are things definitely that we need to be forgiven for, and for which we can forgive, I don't think you NEED to forgive yourself for something like feelings. You feel lonely or frustrated or left out--that's how you feel...

In accepting how you feel, you let it flow through you and can move on. Kudos for your showing up at church anyway.... In terms of groups, church life is full of friction, in my opinion, because we expect more of 'church folks.'

HEY, just because we believe, or have spiritual practices, doesn't make us perfect! But somehow we expect more of one another.

Just remember, no matter what kind of day it is at church, and no matter what the other people do, GOD loves you! Just the way you are.

Brenda said...

We definitely expect more of one another. Forgiveness was not necessarily for feeling that way, but more for the part I played in the mess!

Meredith Gould said...

The hurts I've experienced within and by church and church community have always been more emotionally brutal, spiritually damaging, and longer-lasting than any of those I've experienced in the secular world. Yeah yeah...all of it has helped me grow but still, ouch.

Melinda Lancaster said...

I relate to this post very deeply, Brenda. I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment that you have been experiencing.

I, too, have been in a similiar place on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, even lately. Okay. Right now. It is painful, indeed.

Some days I wonder where the hurting "leaders" go. The only place I can think of is the "throne of grace." I'm grateful for the ability to worship 24/7. I wouldn't make it without God.

One of the things that we know for certain is that God is still working on each one of us. I'm longing for the day when there will be no more sorrow, pain, tears or misunderstanding. In the meantime, I'm thankful for the ability God has to mend our broken hearts and use all that we go through for our good and His glory. In God's economy nothing is wasted. Not even our pain.