Let’s go there. I’ve been there, and really any Alpha Woman I know who has stayed at a church for longer than 10 days has been there. We have high standards. High standards for friendship, high standards of leadership, high standards for family, high standards for anything really…until we decide a particular standard is not important to us.
Then we proclaim grace. For example, when I am planning events, I expect everyone to be on time. However, you can ask my husband and he will confirm that I am pretty much late to everything else in life (the truth shall set me free). If I could wear a shirt, it would say, “Sorry, I’m late, I didn’t want to come.”
That's because it's true...I can be a little absorbed in my own world. I rarely feel sad when I scroll through the gram and see I missed a dinner party 'cuz for real…it’s one less crowd of people I have to talk myself into socializing with -is that bad?. It's not intentional, but its part of being a little introverted--and remnants of selfishness.
However, my impossible standards for others have placed a yoke of perfectionism on myself that I'm systemically removing. One of the areas I recently struggled with the most was what I expected from my church and family. I am still low-key working through them.
I think I expected people to know what I needed by osmosis and never clearly communicated what and how I needed them. Part of the reason is that I was grappling with grief, but the other reason was really my inability to identify where and how I needed them to help and to actually make a request.
Regardless of my issues, God used my pain to teach me some very important lessons about church, family and my overall expectations of people. Here is what I think goes wrong when we find ourselves “Church Hurt”:
1. Making people, not God, the source.
God will remove anything that becomes an idol. Don’t get caught up on the word idol. It’s just church code for anything that takes the place of God. If an issue arises and the first thing that comes to mind is calling a particular person, EVERY TIME, you have made that person an idol.
You shouldn’t put anyone in the place of God. He wants to be your BFF. So if it looks like you are leaning too much on your spouse, friend, pastor, sister, or family… God is going to allow something to break that up. Especially if you call yourself a child of God. He is a jealous God and that applies to your Momma and Daddy too.
2. Placing people on a pedestal a.k.a. having unrealistic expectations.
I can be pretty standoffish when I wanna be. It’s my way of letting folk know they’ve crossed an invisible line. The niceties just shut down. In pretty much every area of my life, I have a way of letting folk know “Not today, Satan”. In the past, I used my rule of thumb for habitual line crossers everywhere, except for church.
Somehow, when I walked into the church, I thought everyone was there to be delivered. I came to church with a knowing that I needed what was coming from the pulpit to do life and thought that my church family must all be there for the same reason. If you have ever been church hurt, it’s probably because you somehow thought everyone in the room was “for” you.
But the bible says in Acts 23 that there was a whole conspiracy of “church folk” fasting and praying for Paul to be killed. Can you believe the level of trife? This man nearly wrote the entire new testament, “labored more abundantly than them all", and these mofos are out here fasting Gandhi style for him to die.
Now, I'm sure at some point, Paul felt church hurt. Here he is tryna’ live his best life, run his race, and spread the gospel—and the only thing these folks could find time to do was to pray for his demise? The devil is a liar, and church folk, like everybody else, can be trifling.
3. Giving too much, too soon.
You better believe that you will hear a great deal about boundaries from me ALL year. If the EZ Breezy Life had a church theme it would be “2019, YOUR YEAR OF DIVINE BOUNDARIES”. Folks, people need to earn our commitment and intimacy.
In the past, I was generally a closed or open book. But I have learned over time that people need to be able to read you in chapters. In chapter one, you generally want to keep it light. Friendly, but not friend.
More on those differences in another post, but the overall gist is that you should envision people holding an empty jar. People need to earn every marble of trust that goes into that jar. Your time, energy, love, commitment, attention, secrets…those are marbles. If you tell a person a secret and they can’t hold water then guess what? They can’t hold marbles either. Anything you give them after that is your fault, not theirs.
In order to heal from church hurt, we need to acknowledge not only our own imperfection, but the imperfection of everyone else around us.
With the following principles, we can keep church hurt in perspective, eventually heal, and move past it:
1. God is your number one source.
What I really meant to say is, God is your source. Period. It ain’t a joke. Anytime I have remotely leaned on anything or anyone more than God, it left me leaning on one leg. Trust God to be who he says he is. “I am”, which means, he is your everything.
Now surely, he uses people to fulfill our needs, so relationships are still important. But, that does not mean God cannot use a stranger, Muslim, or agnostic to help you. If you are constantly looking to the church, your family, and friends to be your source, you are in for a world of hurt. So please, turn to the one who created all of heaven and earth.
2. His word should be your number one counselor.
“My pastor said”, “My coach said”, “My boss said”…well God is my CEO, Life Coach and the head of my life—and if I really want to know what he thinks, then I have to read my bible. Now, when I first started reading KJV, it was a snooze fest. I couldn’t read for five minutes without waking up in a pool of drool— and I don’t even drool.
KJV is like reading a science textbook. I highly recommend starting with a Children’s Bible (I sure did) or getting the ”Life Application Study Bible, NLT”, it has helped me tremendously. I'm not saying it's bad to ask for insight and counsel, but people are imperfect and so you always have to hold advice up to the light test, which is the word of God.
3. Ask yourself, do I have realistic expectations?
A lot of times, people develop a sense of entitlement and have not communicated expectations about how they receive and give love. Or, they have unrealistic expectations of human beings. The keyword here is “humans”. Imperfect, not all-seeing, not all-knowing, not all-sufficient. Humans by nature, are going to fail you. Some shortcomings we can bounce back from, others we can’t.
4. Just like you, people are going through stuff.
It’s always better to assume the best of folks. You never know what they are carrying. I remember being in the NICU and thinking where all my friends were. But as I started to look around and talk to people, I learned that really my entire church friend group was under attack at the same time.
It was actually an attack on the entire media team. So just remember that if you have stress, other folks are stressed too, that includes your pastors, parents, and mentors. Give them the grace you would want if you were them.
5. Push past the pain.
The enemy wants you hurt, offended, and isolated. Isolation is extremely dangerous because predators like to get their victims alone before attacking them. The bible says that two are better than one. I have learned that the best way to get over church hurt is to decide to keep loving, keep serving, and keep praying for those who offended you until you push past the pain.
If you feel you need to have a conversation about the issue, try and wait until your emotions have settled. Whatever you do, stop seeing people as your enemy, the battle we are fighting is not against flesh and blood.
Sounds easy right?? Nothing in the EZ Breezy Life actually is —but’s that why we got the holy spirit and the Breezy Tribe to get us through. Find a God-fearing friend or therapist to help sort through your emotions spiritually and practically, it can make a world of a difference (thank you, V.W. and T.O.).
That is all! If you want to learn more about the bible stories I mention in my posts, let me know and share this post on Facebook!
Te quiero mucho,
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