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How Do We Stop Church Hurt?

March 31, 2015

StopJading
What is church hurt?
You know…stuff that gives church members that I-don’t-want-to-be-here feeling. Stuff that makes them want to stay away. Stuff that’s icky.

I’ve talked about How The Church Hurt Me, and I’ve talked about Why I’m Done Being Hurt By The Church, but the more I talk about it, the more I realize almost everyone has a story of being jaded to Christians. From something as trivial as the minister not shaking their hand, to something as huge as congregational shunning (It happens). The stories are out there, and they’re painful.

So how do we stop it? It’s easy.

Love. Forgive. Everyone.

Okay, maybe that’s not so easy, but it’s a place to start, and it’s what Jesus said to do.

I’ve seen a church completely ignore a woman who got pregnant out of marriage, but I’ve also seen a church celebrate the same situation with a baby shower. These days, it seems people are becoming less judgmental and more forgiving.

But I’m not sure who I feel more sorry for: the pregnant woman or those who ignored her. Both did something wrong–and depending on the circumstances, one may be easier to forgive–but I need to love them both.

I’ve been on both sides of the jading issue, and it ain’t pretty from either perspective.

But it all comes down to changing our attitude. The question isn’t how can we stop jading, it’s how can love and forgive each other.

And be more like Christ.

What do YOU think? How can we stop jading in the church?

How has God worked in your church to spread love and forgiveness? How have you seen church hurt diminish in your congregation? What do you think would help us to help the hurting? Consider leaving a message in the comments section below.

Check back next week for the conclusion of the series: God Still Pursues Us Even When We’re Jaded.

 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1Peter 4:8 NIV

Interview with Varina Denman, author of Jaded

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Read what other bloggers are saying about Jading in the church:

To add your own #StopJading post to this list, click HERE

To leave a comment, scroll down a little farther.

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Click to Tweet: How Do We Stop Church Hurt? http://wp.me/pM9q6-2RD #StopJading

Why I’m Done Being Hurt By The Church

March 24, 2015

DoneBeingJaded
Last week, I wrote about How The Church Hurt Me, but I can’t leave it at that.

I’ve been hurt by the church and will undoubtedly be hurt again, but I know the pain I feel is usually inflicted unintentionally. But even when it is decidedly deliberate, holding a grudge only hurts me.

At times it’s easy to heal. If someone comes to me and apologizes, we both live happily ever after. But when there’s no hope of penitence, let alone an apology, then the responsibility falls on me alone, and I don’t always shine like a beacon of Christianity.

I’ve spent too many worship services thinking jaded thoughts about so-and so who did such-and-such, and I’m tempted to talk behind their backs. But then I remember those persistent Bible verses that tell me to be bigger than that, and I try to . . .

Let it go.

One phrase. Three words. Seven letters. And ten million reasons I don’t want to do it. After all, pain is pain, and when I’m hurting, I want someone to pay.

But, WOW, someone already did. Two thousand years ago, on a cross on a hill.

I don’t mean to oversimplify church hurt—it’s real—but Christ called me to love Him. Not just when I’m pain-free. Not just when other Christians are getting it right. Not just when it’s easy.

The church is bigger than us Christians who are making a mess of things. It’s forgiveness and tolerance and openness and communication. It’s icky feelings and awkward apologies and overlooked offenses. It’s not easy. But God wants me to love the church like He loved them, whether it’s easy or not.

What has helped you let go of church hurt?

Were you one of the lucky ones who received an apology? Or maybe the pain wore off gradually? Did you have to stuff it for a while—fake it till you make it? Or are you still in pain? If so, what do you think would help you heal?

Consider leaving a note in the comments section below. I’d like to hear your story, and draw from your experiences, and grow.

Ugh. Growth. Now there’s something that’s painful.

Check back next week for the continuing discussion: How Do We Stop Church Hurt?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 NIV

Interview with Varina Denman, author of Jaded

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Read what other bloggers are saying about overcoming church hurt:

To link your own #DoneBeingJaded post to this list, click HERE

To leave a comment, scroll down a little farther.

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Click to Tweet: Why I’m done being hurt by the church. http://wp.me/pM9q6-2RB #DoneBeingJaded

How the Church Hurt Me

March 17, 2015

WhatJadedMe

Admittedly, I take the church for granted. I’ve been at worship three times a week since birth, and I’ll be there till they wheel my casket up the aisle. For me, the church is life. It’s breath. It’s nourishment.

But it’s also pain. We’re always harder on those we love, and in my lifetime, I’ve seen way too many bad/sad/mad things happen among Christians. I’ve seen believers ostracized for their sins, ridiculed for their weaknesses, and gossiped for everything under the sun. All in the name of Christ.

And I’ve been hurt.

There was the time church work was pushed on my husband and me, even though our marriage was struggling. There was the time a family member’s parenting skills were scrutinized because of the behavior of their teenage child. There was the time family members were ridiculed because of their convictions on social issues.

But it all started when I was much younger, at the age when I first became aware of my appearance. Like most adolescent girls, I felt insecure in my skin, and I worried about make-up and clothing. Boys began to figure into this concern, and I struggled to balance my need-to-be-noticed with the Christian values my parents had taught me.

Good girls wore this and not that. Bad girls wore that and not this. I thought I was getting it right, until one of the deacons looked at me from head to toe and made a disgusted face at my clothing or my make-up or my body … or me.

Yes, the church hurts. And I include myself in that accusation. I don’t always say or do—or even think—the right thing. In fact, twenty-five years later as I walked into worship, I caught myself scrunching my nose at two teenage girls in short dresses, and I realized

Christians don’t always act like Christ.

But there’s a reason for that. Duh. We’re not Him. We’re human, and we’re a mess. As long as there are people in the church, there will be problems, but we’re trying. It’s true we’re harder on those we love, but the fact is, we DO love. We just love imperfectly.

The Lord’s church is all about forgiveness, and we give each other plenty of practice. We hurt each other, we forgive each other, we love each other. We strive to love like Christ, but not until we get to heaven, will we finally get it completely right. And to tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to that day.

In the meantime, I suppose I’m a little jaded to the church. I feel lucky I haven’t been wounded worse, and I hurt hurt hurt for those who have.

Are you jaded?

I’d like to hear your story. I’d like to give you a virtual hug and tell you there are others who have been there. I’d like to pray for you. If you feel comfortable then leave a comment at the end of this post, telling your personal story (but leaving out the names and places).

And check back next week for a lighter discussion: Why I’m Done Being Hurt By the Church

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:7 NIV

Interview with Varina Denman, author of Jaded

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Read what other bloggers are saying about jading in the church

To link your own #WhatJadedMe post, click HERE.

(To leave a comment, scroll down a little farther.)

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Click to Tweet: Have you ever been hurt by the church? Share your story. #WhatJadedMe

 

 

Pride and Forgiveness

March 10, 2015

varina denman seventh gradeMy seventh grade year was marked by floundering attempts to fit in with the cool crowd. I was tall and lanky with bushy hair, and my friends were just as awkward, but Karla, Shelley, and I were inseparable. To tell the truth, sometimes our awkwardness embarrassed me, but I figured it was better than being alone…

*****

To read more about my embarrassing story of pride and forgiveness, visit T.L. Gray’s blog, Behind the Maskwhere I’m guest blogging.

Jaded Book-a-Day Giveaway!

March 4, 2015

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In honor of Jaded‘s release this week,

I’m giving a shout out to some of my favorite best-selling authors. For the next ten days (maybe not the weekend) I’m holding a BOOK-A-DAY GIVEAWAY over on my Facebook Author Page. Stop by, comment, and be entered to win a kindle copy of one of the following books:

Kept, Sally Bradley

Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers

When Mountains Move, Julie Cantrell

The Auschwitz Escape, Joel C Rosenberg

The Preacher’s Bride Collection, DiAnn Mills, Darlene Franklin, and others

Angels Walking, Karen Kingsbury

Steadfast Heart, Tracie Petersen

The Remaining, Travis Thrasher

The River, Beverly Lewis

The Shack, William Paul Young

.

To enter the contest, visit my Facebook Author Page. Thanks, and I hope you win!

Jaded Releases Today!

March 1, 2015

Jaded-Endorsement1

Jaded releases today, and in celebration, I’m giving away three copies to these lucky newsletter subscribers. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It’s been a l-o-n-g journey.

  • lindsayb
  • truckredford
  • Cheryl Porter

Jaded can now be found in bookstores (yippee!) or you can order it online here.

To be included in future drawings, sign-up for my  quarterly newsletter.

 vvdenman newletter sneak peek

 

Why I Wrote a Novel About Church Hurt

February 24, 2015

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Why did I write a book about church hurt?

The honest answer is: it was an accident.

Really. It was. Five years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom, reading books to fill the void of a newly implemented no-television lifestyle, and I decided to try my hand at writing my own. Inspirational romance was my favorite aisle at the bookstore, so I sat down to write a story about a girl and a guy.

Well, since it was inspirational, the girl and guy ended up going to church, and suddenly there was church hurt, right there on the page, causing problems between my sweetheart and her hero. I had heard writers talk about characters taking over the story, and mine certainly did, but deep down inside, I realized the reason why.

Even though I had never been dramatically or publicly wounded by Christians, the issue of church hurt simmered deep in my soul.

And it bothered me.

But I got nervous. Should I write something like that? Would readers be offended? Would they judge me? And the most practical question: would any publisher touch it anyway?

I worried and fretted and sought advice from friends and family and industry professionals, and got…mixed opinions. Almost everyone agreed that church hurt is real, though a few stragglers insisted the things I was writing would never happen in a group of believers. (I’d like to find their congregation and join it.) But the more I discussed it, the less I worried because God seemed to grant me peace.

Then something unexpected happened. When people heard what I was writing, they started telling me their own stories:

  • A youth minister publicly humiliating a teenager
  • A family ostracized when their unwed daughter got pregnant
  • Countless stories of hurtful behavior aimed toward divorced Christians

It broke my heart, and at that point, I realized I had been asking the wrong questions. It wasn’t a matter of offending readers, or having my feelings hurt, or getting the book published. It all boiled down to whether or not the book could help those who have been injured.

That’s why I wrote a book about church hurt.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

What about you? If you were to write a book, what would you write?

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In anticipation of Jaded‘s release, I’m giving away a paperback copy. I’ll draw the winner from my newsletter list, so sign-up for a chance to win!

vvdenman newletter sneak peek

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Click to Tweet: Why I Wrote a Novel About Church Hurt. Plus a giveaway! #JadedBook

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