Hurt… now Healed

I am wired with a passion to help people who are hurting, brokenhearted or derailed in their life purpose. This has been true since youth, taking different shapes at different stages of my life. In grade school I looked for the loner on the playground. In adulthood it seems I have sonar that detects hurting ones. Few aspects of life delight me more than seeing Jesus pour His restorative healing power into a heart that appeared almost dead. Seeing joy in place of despair, sparkle and light in the eyes replacing dullness, and renewed purpose for getting up in the morning sends my heart soaring. Touchdown for God. Yards lost for the evil one. I love it!

One of the arenas where I have encountered many hurting ones has to do with those negatively impacted by religion. You might be one of them, or maybe you know someone who is steering clear of church. Often the hurting ones know in their heart that spiritual truth is the answer they need but they won’t come near a building or pastor due to bad experiences. It is a sad situation needing a remedy. Let me share a few experiences from my own life.

I can remember a hunger welling up inside me 25 years ago. It was a deep desire to know God more, to know His ways, to be empowered to walk in love at levels I had not been able to achieve. It was a hunger for “something more” but I did not know what that “more” was. Two friends heard me out one day. They heard my inner quest and struggle. They knew in their hearts the solution. I needed to be introduced to the power of the Holy Spirit. So they offered to pray with me and my world was opened up. Love began to pour out of me. Peace entered my heart. My husband stated that he did not know what had happened to me but he liked it as I was much easier to get along with!

With all the positive changes going on, I thought others would want to know more about the Holy Spirit’s empowering too. Instead I experienced most of my friends pull away. Leaders I had been following thought I had joined a cult. My extended family were heartbroken that I had left the religion of my youth. All my life others had encouraged me to seek after God wholeheartedly. I had. Then when I found deeper relationship with Him, they did not like what had developed. So I became the outcast, no longer embraced. It hurt. Deeply hurt. I could not understand.

Some years later, positioned in a new church family, and growing in following Jesus, I found myself at odds with a leader who wanted things her way or no way. Suggestions were not heard, and new ideas were discounted. It was not just my input. I did not see her accept anyone’s proposal. She was sure she alone had heard God and her plan was God’s plan. That hurt too, as it was confusing. With no idea validated, it made me wonder if I heard God at all. I also questioned if I was indeed called to lead. Eventually I did lead, as she burned out in doing everything herself. That was a good lesson for me to learn by observation. Yet I was still left with lingering doubts about my ability to hear God and simply follow His directives.

Why am I writing this? There are some of you who have been stung by the bee of religion or the hornet of dysfunctional church community. Right now, you are not sure you want to risk another sting from religious people. I want to encourage you to be bold and come forth to get the stinger out. Let the Jesus of love who desires relationship with you, heal your heart. I have led a number of workshops where I have seen Him do just that. The result is a healed person free to experience the joy of relationship with God and His people. It is so worth it as the joy of community is deeply comforting amidst the aloneness of our noisy, cluttered, distracted American society. The Recovery from Church Hurts book and workshop are born from my passion for hurting people. I want to see many healed of old pain and established in God’s destiny for their lives. I am excited to share lessons learned in hurtful settings as I’ve recovered. What is possible for me is possible for each of us, and I desire to convey hope. We can cooperate with God and each fully recover, no matter what the church hurt was in the past.

If you live near the Idaho Panhandle, come join us Fridays starting end of September for a free workshop spanning 3 weeks. Details are in the Recovery from Church Hurts advertisement near the end of this article. We need each other in the days ahead. We need spiritual truth established in our hearts. Jesus is our answer. Not religion. Not do’s and don’ts. Not past hurts. We need Jesus to be our Light in the troubled waters of family, economy, disasters and more. Why wait to heal? This fall is a great time for personal transformation, letting go of the pain of the past and finding refreshed vision for tomorrow.