I sat on the other end of the phone in pure amazement. Disbelief, hurt, and anger flooded my thoughts. I could not believe what I was hearing, more importantly I could not believe who it was coming from. I loved this person not only because she was my family member, but because she was my spiritual mother. She was the same person that encouraged and spoke life into me during discouraging times in my life’; yet, she was the same person killing my spirit at that moment. It was a Friday evening, my church was having a revival and I chose not to attend for various reasons: I was extremely tired after working all week and wanted to relax at home and honestly I wasn’t feeling it. At times even as committed, faithful Christians we don’t always feel like going to church. Lastly, I was tired of church as usual, tired of going through the motions. I was dealing with some personal issues and right or wrong this is the way I chose to handle them. My phone rang and the person on the other asked if I was coming to church. After I told her that I wasn’t coming, you would have thought I just cussed her out. She became very upset and asked why I wasn’t coming to church. I simply replied that I wasn’t coming with no explanation. What I really wanted to say was I don’t feel like it! But because of the respect I had for her I chose to keep my mouth shut. She then said, “Are you slacking on your responsibilities? What’s going on with you?” She never gave me a chance to reply to the questions. I began to cry silently because again I could not believe this person allowed her emotions to get the best of her. At that point I could hear her voice, but did not know what she was saying. Her last words to me were, “You’re going to need God.” If she only knew about badly I needed him at that moment, she might not have said those things. A few weeks before that I experienced a miscarriage and was in a season of uncertainty. I was also dealing with other personal issues that only God and I knew about. Spiritually speaking I was in a very fragile state. As we hung up the phone I cried. This person surprised me in deed and speech. I could not believe she spoke to me this way. I was a faithful member of my church for many years. I was on the praise and worship team, choir, youth director, chairlady of women’s day and Missionary. These ministries required hard work and dedication on my part. I was very committed first to God, then my church.
I was devastated for days, weeks and months to come. I kept replaying the conversation in my mind. I never thought I would experience this type of hurt in the church. I’ve always heard people say, “The worse type of hurt to experience is church hurt.” I never fully understood it until I found myself in it. This was the worst hurt I’ve ever experienced. This hurt totally caught me off guard. I didn’t feel as though what happened warranted this type of rebuke or correction. And most importantly I didn’t think it could have come from this person.
The church is supposed to be a place a healing, a hospital in a sense. It is not a place to be wounded and discouraged. It is a place of life not death. However, I thanked God for this experience because it taught me to watch my mouth and my tone towards people. I recognized that this experience was supposed to discourage and kill me in my fragile state, but it only made me stronger and more dependent upon God. What if I allowed those words to reside in my sprit and left the church or even worse gave up on God? Many people who have been hurt in the church have either left a church or gave up on God because of what was said or done to them in the church. As people of God we must not take a “holier than thou” attitude. We must be empathetic to the thoughts and feelings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. My grandmother used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes we need to go back to the basics. Not watching what you say to people can abort you and that person’s destiny. Be careful what comes out of your mouth because it has the power to bring life or death to a person or situation. If we speak out of the spirit and heart of God and not our emotions we wouldn’t bring hurt. I’m not saying that we as Christians shouldn’t encourage or admonish each other when it is called for, I just think that we should prayerfully approach the situation and ask God what to say to that person and how to say it.
Many people I know were hurt in the church. Some have left the church never to return, others have left the church they were hurt at and found another one. I encourage those and others to go back to your first love who is Jesus Christ. He’s waiting with outstretched arms. It’s never too late. Your hurt could be a testimony of victory to someone else.
Elaine Broaster-White is the mother of two wonderful, intelligent children and the wife of the most perfect husband, whose absolutely perfect for her. She’s currently in school earning her degree in Social Work. She’s hoping to sue her degree to help others. But most importantly she is a child of the King, the most High God, Jesus Christ.
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