Sunday, December 6, 2020

Wounded Alone, Healing Together

This post may make some people angry or uncomfortable but I am going to say these things anyway because in this area in particular, I KNOW that I am not the only one. 

Of all of the ideologies I have encountered in the church, this one may be the most heartbreaking to me. It is the idea that human people, broken people, do not belong there. Biblically speaking there could be nothing further from the truth, but the culture is there nevertheless. I've seen it. I've been the target of it. And so many others have, too.

How does this play out?

It plays out when you share your story and nobody in the group speaks to you again. It plays out when you are told, in an accusing tone, that you are the only one in the church with any needs. It plays out when a leader complains that you are always complaining about how stressed out you are (while he has never asked how he can come alongside and listen and encourage). It plays out when you are told that brokenness has only to do with sin and repentance. It plays out when you are told it doesn't matter why somebody is doing something, you just have to hold her accountable for her sin. It plays out when, no matter what input you try to give, you are always "projecting your bad experience," turning you into the problem. It plays out when the pastor complains about having to spend the first few months on the job counseling church members instead of doing his work (and that isn't his work?). It plays out when relationships are traded for agendas. It plays out when you run out of gas and drop out of church and are treated with suspicion instead of care. It plays out when the weak within the church are called wolves that don't even know they are wolves. It plays out when the "weak" are considered dangerous to the true mission of the church. 

Yes, the above are only a few examples that I have experienced personally. But I am not the only one. 

-A husband is asked what sin he hasn't confessed when his wife's mental illness takes a serious turn.
-A pastor is criticized for admitting the getting regular counseling. 
-A wife is excommunicated for leaving her abusive husband without the church's permission. 

Oh, I could go on. 

Where does this from? Not from the Bible. 

It comes from:
-An ignorance of mental health and the strange belief that all struggles are spiritual issues.
-A bootstrap theology that tells you to do more and try harder.
-The idea that the Christian life is some sort of escalator ride up and up to the next levels, not the twisting road that sometimes leads you through the Valley of the Shadow of Death or the Dark Night of the Soul. 
-The idea that all that matters are saving the lost from hell.
-The idea that emotions are bad and not to be trusted or acknowledged and intellectual assent is always good. 
-The idea that people were made for institutions, not institutions for people. 
-The idea that ministry equals numbers. That the Kingdom of God can be measured on a tally sheet. 
-The idea that healing should come in the instant variety and the long-term effects of trauma are a result of a victim mentality or poor character. 
-The idea that the best way to win the war is to shoot your wounded. 
-The idea that those in spiritual authority are always right and should be trusted and obeyed no matter what. 
-The idea that every problem is a nail and all you need is a hammer. 
-The idea that power over is somehow more spiritual than gentle presence. 
-The toxic combination of ignorance and arrogance. 
-The idea that theology is more important than love.

Somebody last week said that I need to be the change that I want to see in the church. So here it is. I want to change these things. I really do. I'm not really sure how but for starters I can speak up and speak out. I can hold these ideas up to the character of God. But maybe first I need to start by asking God to heal my own spiritual wounds. 

As Carol Howard Merritt explains: 

"The reason religious wounds can cut so deeply is that they carry the weight of God with them. In some way we have felt that God was behind what wounded us. So the first step in spiritual healing is to learn to love God by separating God from our experience of being wounded."


 "Our souls are tender places. We hold our ideals, hopes, wishes, and dreams there. That's why spiritual wounds can feel so devastating. In response to that inflicted pain, we can reject God. We can grow scabs in order to protect ourselves from further suffering so that our souls might not ever be susceptible to that sort of pain again. But that will inevitably harden us to the beauty, wonder, and mystery of God. There is another way. As we heal, we peel back those hardened places and allow our souls to be vulnerable again. We learn to protect ourselves with wisdom instead of simple rejection." 

To be honest, much of my writing, my Facebook posts, my honesty and vulnerability are part and parcel of my working through this for myself. I invite anybody else out there who has been similarly wounded, to join me in the healing process. I am actually thinking of starting a private Facebook group just for that purpose, so we can support one another, tell our stories ("the healing is in the telling," I hear), and share resources. 

We may have felt so alone in our wounding, but we can heal together. And maybe we can bring change together. Anybody with me?


  1. With you. Thanks for posting.Protecting ourselves with wisdom rather than rejection... great line!