When Church Hurts
[Guest Post by Lori Tisdale – We know each other through mutual friends nearby, and she asked me to share my story on her blog — I had to host her here! If any of you have stepped foot in the church, you’ll understand what it means to be hurt. But. It’s what we do with our hurt that matters. Please welcome Lori!]
I was the first born of a new pastor and his young bride.
For the most part, I was a very well-behaved preacher’s kid — the teacher’s pet, a devout Missionnette (the church’s version of a Girl Scout). I led the on-campus High School Bible Study, taught years of Sunday School, went on missions trips, etc.
I vividly remember God’s call on my life, at a summer kid’s camp – I was 12 years old. He very clearly told me that He wanted me to use my hands to reach others for Christ. I was not your typical preacher’s kid — you know the kind, they are usually rebellious.
But I was not.
Until I was hurt.
Nearly 25 years into my Dad’s ministry career, he was targeted by certain individuals in our church who felt they were hearing God’s voice and direction more clearly on certain issues. And for years they argued with my Dad, their pastor, about how he handled these issues. Until they eventually disagreed enough that they threatened my Dad to step down, or else.
These individuals were more than just people in our church. They were people we had vacationed with, shared holidays with, and had grown up with.
Their actions rocked our world.
I had been extremely hurt by quite a few people in our church family.
I started to question the purpose of church altogether. Church didn’t feel like family anymore. And I certainly didn’t want to go to church, mostly for fear of being hurt again. Plus, finding a new church after you’ve listened to your Dad’s preaching all your life is rather difficult.
I used the excuse that church wasn’t a requirement to being a Christian, so long as I still had a relationship with God. But in that decision I was turning away from God’s call to ministry.
Along came some new friends who were much less judgmental. After all, when you’re partying and drinking with them at the bar they don’t want to be judged either.
As a result of hurt and resentment and pain, I completely stepped out of God’s will for my life. I was running from it, kicking and screaming. For a long time, I kicked and screamed.
It was ugly.
Until I got it. I finally learned to accept God’s love for what it was, all I would ever need! My worth wasn’t found in the circumstances of my life, how bad my church hurt my family or me. My worth was found in His undying love, His mercy and grace, His forgiveness.
I finally learned how to forgive those who hurt me, who hurt my family.
It took longer than I like to admit.
But I finally learned that painful lesson.
My journey kind of reminds me of Jonah’s: God told Jonah His will for Jonah’s life, and due to a number of circumstances Jonah said “Nope! Not gonna do it!” and he ran from God’s will for his life.
But God said, “Oh yes, you are!”
With God’s help (and a lot of grace), Jonah faced his fears, and fell back in line with God’s will for his life. What’s even more amazing is the thought that even with all of Jonah’s running, God still wanted to use Jonah for His glory!
That’s amazing to me!
So here I was, finally returning to church, returning to God’s call on my life, but so very fearful of being hurt again.
And yet God reminded me of the plan He had for me. To use my life to bring Him glory. I can’t say I wasn’t hurt again. But my perspective had changed. Despite my fears, I could rely on God to go before me, to protect me and be with me.
“There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away” (1 John 4:18).
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
Raised in church, as a “preacher’s kid”, Lori has a unique perspective of church, leadership and faith. Lori loves sharing her personal faith journey and what it took to bring her back into a deep relationship with her Heavenly Father. Having a passion for authentic living and connecting, Lori views her life as an open book and loves sharing that with others. Lori’s faith and lifestyle blog explores various DIY/craft projects, kitchen successes (and failures), and God’s life-giving message as it pertains to His calling on our lives (and the life lived in between all of the rest). Lori and her husband Lee and their dog Callie reside in San Diego County. Connect with Lori on her blog: http://mylifeaslori.wordpress.com.