If you’ve been hurt by the church…

church hurt pic2I receive lots of emails from people who love the idea of following Jesus and being a light to their surroundings.

But, so many are paralyzed by a common theme: they are deeply wounded from experiences inside church.

For some of you, this is shocking. You’re like, what’s wrong with church? Mine is great!

Sadly, you may be one of the few who feels that way.

Let me explain:

I grew up in church.

And when I say that, I don’t mean one particular building or denomination. I have been actively involved in various non-denominationals, Methodist, Baptist, Apostolic – there’s been a wide variety.

I come at this topic from (what I consider to be) a pretty well rounded perspective.

I wish I could say I have warm fuzzies about each of those experiences. I wish I could tell you everyone was kind, forgiving, loving and acted like Jesus. I wish I could say I didn’t bear my own set of scars.

But I can’t.

Now, before you completely lump this blog into the anti-church category, hear me: I also had many WONDERFUL church experiences. So many that have shaped who I am today. I am tremendously thankful for being raised in church and for all of the people who fed my spiritual journey.

However, as with anything, a few severely painful experiences can outweigh a pot of good ones.

But, Anna, don’t you work at a church? Aren’t you in ministry?

Yep.

I am and I do.

BUT….

I know what it’s like to be judged before you even get a chance to show anyone who you are.

I know what it feels like to walk into a room and the talking immediately stops.

I know what it’s like to have something you’ve done discussed everywhere other than with you.

I know what it’s like to share the calling God has placed on your life and it be rejected because it doesn’t “fit the mold”.

I know what it’s like to serve (tirelessly) and not be appreciated.

I know what it’s like to have Bible verses used as a weapon against you.

I know what it’s like to be at your lowest and be shamed for being there.

I know what it’s like to be told you’re not enough.

I know what it’s like to have your “friends” quickly turn on you.

I know what it’s like to listen to people talk (A LOT) about how spiritual they are and then act nothing like Jesus.

I know ALL of this because of my experiences inside of church.

Am I surprised not many in my generation want to be involved inside of their local church?

Nope. Not at all.

I was one of them.

There was one experience that made me swear I’d never set foot inside a church again. It was (and still is) one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve lived through (and yes, I used the word trauma. I don’t use that word lightly).

In my lowest moment – like absolute lowest –  I confided in people who I believed were my friends inside church. People who I had prayed with, lived life with and invested much of myself into. 

But because we disagreed on one interpretation of scripture (divorce) I was excommunicated. Like, for real. I was even written a letter from the church explaining that I was no longer allowed to be a member. And (of course) that they were praying for me.

There was much that drove me to divorce (I won’t get into that here. It’s not a story that I share) but, let me just say I was nearly 85 lbs and on loads of antidepressants. I didn’t want to divorce; but I had to.

Without getting into the details of  my marriage ending and my life completely turning upside down, I can share with you that what that church did to me (on top of other unpleasant church experiences) put the nail in the coffin.

I.WAS.DONE.

I didn’t attend any church for a while after that. A LONG WHILE.

But, that didn’t halt my relationship with Jesus.

He continued to pursue me.

He continued to call me.

And He ALONE is the one who eventually healed me.

Through that process I fell hard core in love with scripture.

I read it for myself. I allowed the divine to teach me, to mold me and to direct me. It was baptism by fire (if you will) for ministry (or whatever you want to call what I do).

(FYI: I’m not against traditional seminary or other various forms of ministry training. My journey didn’t look like the norm, but if you read scripture, God’s ways don’t always fit the norm) 😉

He eventually led me to venture back inside church walls.

IT TERRIFIED ME.

But, by the grace of God, we landed in a pretty safe one. Hallelujah.

I treasure the relationships built there to this day and know that I would not be where I am without them (you know who you are!)

I was given the opportunity to be in leadership, but most importantly I was able to serve those there.

And, well, here I am today.

Writing and speaking. In a church.

People, it’s a freaking miracle.

If you have been hurt by the church or by people inside the church, I am so sorry.

I AM SO DEEPLY SORRY.

The church, as a whole, should do better. But, friends, I love the church. I champion the church and believe it can rise to be what it was intended to be.

This is exactly why you’re needed there.

When you feel discouraged and want to run as fast as you can out those doors, remember there is someone who knows better than any of us what it feels like to be on the outside of a religious organization: Jesus.

HE LIVED IT.

He didn’t fit the religious format (one that was more about controlling people rather than just simply embracing them).

He led with love, humility, grace, mercy and integrity. He honored those in authority while loving the ones who needed him the most.

If you know Jesus (like the loving, no judging, no controlling, embracing Jesus), now is your time to rise up.

You may not be listened to at first. You may be looked over. You may be put on the outside, heck you may be persecuted just like Jesus was by the religious in his day. But friends hear me, you are not alone.

The world is in DESPERATE need of legitimate Jesus followers to rise up.

Ones who are willing to be humble and serve.

Ones who rely solely on the divine and not their own strength.

Ones who are courageous enough to go against the grain and live a life of radical love and grace.

Ones who care more about the intricacies of their heart than of their outward appearance.

Ones who see what Jesus did and are crazy enough to believe we actually CAN do even greater things than he did (it’s in the Bible).

THIS IS WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS

THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH NEEDS

Both are craving it.

 

It’s time to rise up.

Hugs,

Anna

17 thoughts on “If you’ve been hurt by the church…

  1. I’ve been hurt a multitude of times by people who judge me and talk about me to others. It seems like few church members follow Jesus direction in Matt. Chapter 6. What I’m judged for the fact that I am trans gendered. I have searched the Word for many years and cannot find any scripture that speaks against being transgendered. It may be true that Matt. Chapter 19 speaks of eunuchs being being from God. Transgendered people are eunuchs because we make ourselves unable to bare children. We cannot as children of God judge someone just because they were proven to be something not mentioned in the scriptures. On Aug 17, 2016 2:26 PM, “just a jesus follower” wrote:

    > Anna McCarthy posted: “I receive lots of emails from people who love the > idea of following Jesus and being a light to their surroundings. But, so > many are paralyzed by a common theme: they are deeply wounded from > experiences inside church. For some of you, this is shocking. Y” >

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  2. As one who has been wounded many times by the church, I appreciate your honesty. I no longer attend church for various reasons, yet my love for Jesus, for the lost, and yes, even for the church hasn’t changed. Some think people can’t truly be Christians unless they attend church, but Holy Spirit does not dwell within a building. He dwells within the hearts of those who love Jesus, and walk in obedience to His word. God bless you, and thank you for sharing the love of Jesus with those who have been wounded by the church.

    In Christ’s love,
    Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen! This was really well said. I am so sorry for all those who have suffered within the church, too.

    I’m reminded that Jesus Christ Himself was actually persecuted by “the church,” by the religious leaders of the day and than in the book of Revelation the first thing He addresses are the churches. I too believe that what the world really needs right now is for authentic believers to rise up and light the path before us. Even if you believe you don’t need the church, the church may really need you.

    Like

  4. Anna,

    10 minutes ago I was sitting here, very discouraged about my church. I was going through the list of reasons to run away, but then felt the urge to check my email….which I usually only do in the morning. Voila! Your blog post. WOW 🙂 Really enjoying your blog!

    Sara

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  5. I have so been right there…once I was actually attacked from the pulpit by the pastor lol….he actually stated as I walked in ‘Satan has entered our sanctuary’………………..I laugh now, but it was heart wrenching then.

    Anna McCarthy posted: “I receive lots of emails from people who love the idea of following Jesus and being a light to their surroundings. But, so many are paralyzed by a common theme: they are deeply wounded from experiences inside church. For some of you, this is shocking. Y”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow….This is amazing. I have been blessed by your message. I must say that i was there a few months ago, but ii have gone back to church, knowing too well that it is God who has called us to this noble calling, and He is faithful to complete that which He put in us. God bless you Anna.

    On Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 10:25 PM, just a jesus follower wrote:

    > Anna McCarthy posted: “I receive lots of emails from people who love the > idea of following Jesus and being a light to their surroundings. But, so > many are paralyzed by a common theme: they are deeply wounded from > experiences inside church. For some of you, this is shocking. Y” >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. People behave this way in every day life. Yes, we would think and even expect so called, believers to behave better, especially in a church setting ; but remember, not everyone sitting in a church has the life of God in them. They are there for “Religeous duty”. As you know, Jesus and His followers were treated very badly by “religious ” people. The ones who truly believed in Him, loved him unto their death. So pray for these people. They need to know their Creator.

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  8. This is exactly what it was like for me. My husband and I were saved and baptized not long after we were married into a church that he grew up in. Very shortly after that I became pregnant and as you know some of us are not the most healthy pregnant. I had issues with being sick and then eventually I had preeclampsia and our child was born into this earth premature. There were a lot of Sunday’s we missed. And there after she was born she was hospitalized for a long time, once she was released I become the mom that didn’t take her out in public literally until almost her first birthday because I was scared of germs and her contracting something in her preemie lungs that will really make her sick.
    But when we did return to church, I would go and my hair would be pulled back and I would have very minimal make up and they looked at me shocked that I would come to church like this. I could feel there eyes boring holes into the back of my head. I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t feel rich enough, because my clothes were name brand, they were Wal mart. I felt they looked at my daughter the same way. Eventually, I started making excuses to my husband to not go. I didn’t want to walk in there and be judged by these people who were suppose to be my family in Christ!

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  9. Pingback: When you’ve been hurt by the church…. | Redefining Christianity

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