I believe that, in many cases, emotional healing is a matter of choice. Please allow me a moment to carefully explain. I do not want to be misunderstood as hard hearted or uninformed about emotional issues; I am neither.
When we are physically sick, we can’t always choose if we are healed. We pray and ask God for healing. Sometimes, it works out as we hoped but at other times, the sickness remains. These types of issues and experiences belong to God; I encourage you to trust Him to do what is best, every time. But, in specific cases, I believe the Holy Spirit offers emotional healing for everyone who is willing to receive it.
There is an ongoing conversation about “church hurt.” It seems that daily, I come across someone who has at some point in their life been hurt by a church, a pastor, a denomination, a church member… In fact, anyone who has ever attended a church can probably share a story or two about an offense that took place, someone who was rude, or a church leader who was mean. Perhaps we should be able to expect better. Of all the places that we can go and expect to be safe, church tops the list. But the problem is, other people also attend those churches. And where there are people, there will be hurt. And these hurts seem to emotionally paralyze many people.
What is unique about this type of emotional pain is it has a way of hanging on and controlling us. People have a hard time letting go. I know many people who frequently speak about emotional pain that was caused by someone in the church – literally 30 years ago. They recall the details. The date of the offense. The specific words or actions used to cause the damage. The emotional pain experienced determines their relationships, church involvement and the health of their faith. It is unlike any other experience in their life. And I believe it is diabolical.
The point of this article is this: if you want to be healed from the emotional pain inflicted on you by an experience at church, it can happen. And if you want it to happen, it probably will.
That is a bold statement! But it is based upon the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our emotions, our feelings and thoughts are under the control of other elements. Experiences influence us. Life events shape us. While we can’t choose all our experiences, they most certainly impact us for a long time, and how we feel about those experiences dictates our future.
On a side note, the topic is not emotional or mental illness. I am not reducing mental health to a decision by an individual, although I do believe in the power of God to heal us mentally and emotionally.
If we surrender our emotions to the Holy Spirit, (all of our hurt and pain and bad experiences) He can heal them. And – here is the kicker – if we refuse to release our emotional pain to the Lord – we will carry them to our grave. Unfortunately, some wear their pain like a medal. They are proud of their offense and put it on display for all to see. Still others use their emotional hurt as a weapon or an excuse. Because they have been hurt, others will pay.
I really hope you don’t think that I am saying, “just get over it!” I am not. And I am most certainly not saying that the Church is innocent or that the perpetrators of church hurt should not be held accountable. I am saying, if you really want to be healed from the emotional pain caused by the Church, it is readily available. You’ll have to let go of the pain. You’ll need to stop allowing the hurt to control your decisions. No more, “I can’t because….” If this seems like too much, know that the Lord will help you. And He wants you free from the pain of your negative experience.
Regardless of your pain, or the source of it, God is offering you healing right now. Let him heal your broken emotions.
2 Replies to “Healing from Church Hurt”
Great Article Bishop! I believe many are “emotionally paralysed” due to church pain, also partly because expectations were initially set high with regard to people in church. Church people are expected to live at a higher standard, and as a result, when one is offended or injured by that Church Person, the reality of their humanity or fleshly nature when revealed or displayed, creates disillusion and distrust. So, the injured must regain trust in people as part of the healing process.
Agreed, sir. The kind of healing you describe may take time. And I’ve found that a willing heart is necessary in order for this healing to occur. Thank you for your comment and insight!