I saw a meme last week and this was what it said:
I thought that was really beautiful. I know I feel loved the deepest by the people who know me intimately -the good, the bad and the ugly. There are people that I truly love in this way and have formed an amazingly strong bond.
If you know my story (part of it is here), I have been deeply wounded by both leaders in the church and church attenders. It has resulted in me leaving the church twice.When I came back the second time it was a slow and gradual process because I was afraid of feeling rejected and unloved again by the place and people who are supposed to be the most loving. I wish my experience was isolated and no one else has ever felt that way. Tragically thats not the case, there are many of us.
My slow and gradual process allowed me time to observe. I saw people who really loved Jesus being genuinely loving. I saw people who loved Jesus being complete a-holes. I saw leaders leading with grace and humility. I saw leaders leading by authority and rule. The church is, was and always will be filled with a mix of all these people but they all are the church.
As I navigated the choppy waters that are church life I found myself in a strange place. I was growing more and finding strength. As I grew, I was able to deal with the poor leaders better and not take their issues personally. It still made me angry and frustrated but it didn’t make me want to leave the church- I just saw them as hurting sinful people; just like me.
I realized a short time ago that I have fallen in love with the church. We are seriously messed up, but it’s because God calls the sick to be healed. It doesn’t mean I won’t call people to task when it is important to do so but it means I going to give it my all to change us for the better from the inside out. That starts with me. I have to make sure I am serving the way God is asking me to. It’s not going to do anyone any good to stand outside and throw stones. That will not bring about change.
I want to stand as part of this amazing body of Christ and say lets get better together, It will be messy, it will be difficult and I will make a ton of mistakes but let’s never give up.
I grew up in Cranbrook, a small town in the Kootenays. I went back during the holidays to visit some family and friends. Going back to Cranbrook is always hard for me because there is so much pain and bad memories from there. I was asked to speak at a church I have never been to before, but I know the senior pastor. He wanted me to share my story. I wrote 3/4 of my talk before I left for Cranbrook. The day before I was to speak I found out that the church did not meet in the location I thought it did. It in fact met in a building where a lot of painful memories were formed for me in childhood.
God has timing right where He wants it. If I had known farther in advance I probably would have cancelled and if I had known upon arrival that morning I probably could not have gotten through the door. As it was, it gave me enough time to wrap my brain around what this would look like to be back on that property,stand at the front and share my story. At that point my story already contained a lot of the things that happened there, without me knowing where I would be standing when talking about it. It was too late to go back and re-write the entire thing so I finished it and told God to do whatever He wanted with it.
We arrived a bit early so I could do sound check but also because I knew I would need some time. I walked through the building and a flood of memories came back, some good and some bad. I went upstairs and to the room where I learned my alphabet. I went downstairs to where my desk was and the school entryway where I used to hang my coat and backpack. I went into the bathroom and it was much smaller than I had remembered it, but it smelled exactly the same. The main floor has a room that was used as a sanctuary for church but when we had school it was a gym. The platform area was so much smaller than I remembered as well. I know I used to run around on it but I couldn’t get more than a few strides on it now if I tried.
I cried. I sobbed really hard actually.I cried for the precious little girl who walked in those walls so long ago and things that happened to her. I sobbed for the scars that would forever remain. Then I stood in front and shared my story. I talked about those things that left the scars but I also talked about how God has been able to use those things to help others. That is the whole point of my story – that those things did not destroy me, though they could have. I have found healing and hope and I want other people to have that too.
That morning broke some things I didn’t even realize still had a hold (funny how that happens). Some people were there who used to attend with my family back then and their validation that those things did happen and they were wrong, was very affirming. We need to talk about the dark places. They will never find light if we don’t.
Below is a link to the message I gave that morning. It is raw, it is real and it is me.