When church hurts
You may recall a similar story that we posted in 2010 - When Church Hurts. Now I will attempt to write my own 'church hurts' story without naming names or hurting people. My aim is to be honest in sharing what I have been through and am going through but at the same time protect all involved. So if at some points you feel I am hiding something be assured that it is only the bits that are necessary to protect others. I don't intend to hide anything from you at all as far as possible, I will tell you the truth.
Setting the scene
Where to start.... um.... well, I may have to jump around a bit because it's difficult to know where the journey really began, it may have been at birth but I won't go that far back. Like any good thriller let's start at the current scene and then jump back to the past. How does that sound?
Right now I am in bed with my pyjamas on clicking away on my laptop while the children are downstairs watching TV. My husband, Eric, is at church where he has recently been employed as the Executive Pastor. Yes, it is a Sunday morning. I am not going to church at the moment. Not for the foreseeable future. I am trying not to cry as I write this because I am tired of crying. I don't want to cry anymore! The truth is, I need some time out. Church has hurt too often and for too long. I just want some time to be with God. Just me and Him. Time to heal. Time to reflect. Time to get back to... I don't really know... but I know where I am now is not a nice place to be. What happened to me? How did I end up here? I feel like I have had every part of me stripped away and now I am revealing my bare soul. I am empty. I am broken. I am lost.
One thing I hold onto is a picture that I believe Jesus showed me. This picture makes it OK for me just to be for the time being. Before I saw the picture I heard the words, "Stop wriggling!" With a rather puzzled expression on my face I imagine, I said, "Huh?" I heard it again, "Stop wriggling!" and then almost right away I say a picture of Jesus holding me in his arms like a little girl and instantly recalled the beautiful Footprints in the Sand poem. I realised that Jesus was trying to carry me and I was trying so hard to walk on my own. I was wriggling in this arms trying to get down and walk myself. Often I am too hard on myself, always forcing myself to do the right thing no matter how painful it is. I know I was trying to do this in the church context. Despite how much I was hurting I was still looking to get on with doing what was right. Jesus didn't want me to do anything. In this time I believe there is no right or wrong action for me to take. All I need to do is snuggle into his arms and allow him to carry me. I know there will come a time when I will need to take action and walk on my own two feet again but I don't need to worry about that right now. For now and the foreseeable future, my only action is to take now action and snuggle in Jesus arms. It is this picture that I hold onto.
In my next post I will tell you what happened and how I got to this place but in the meantime, enjoy this beautiful poem and if you too are in a season where you are needing Jesus to carry you, stop wriggling and just snuggle in his arms and rest.
Footprints in the Sand
- by Mary Stevenson
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."