Hope for the Hurting

The purpose of this blog is to offer words of encouragement to brothers and sisters in Christ who have been hurt by the church. The local church is made up of people. Those people are not perfect. Unfortunately, those people can sometimes hurt each other. If you have a word of encouragement, scripture, or devotional that would help a hurting church member, please feel free to post it here.

Location: United States

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taking a break is okay

While I don't agree with everything in this post, I think he has a good point. Many of us who have been hurt in church just want to take a break. But, we end up feeling guilty that we're not a part of a local congregation; serving in 4 or 5 roles. This post makes us think, and remember that when scripture calls us to serve, it didn't list ministry positions at the local church. These are great and very much needed. However, helping a stranger in need; giving your "out-to-eat money" to a Christian mission; any way you can show Christ's love - is service. So, if you feel the Lord leading you to take a break from "doing church" - then do it. He'll lead you back to your place of worship and service in His time.

Quit, and see what happens

Hope for the Jaded

Tony had a good entry about the book entitled "Jaded". It's about people who have left their churches for a variety of reasons and doing some soul-searching. I'm sure anyone who has been hurt by the church is also contemplating what church should be all about. This is an encouraging post:

don't call me Veronica: jaded hope

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The Bruised Reed: the scattering of the sheep

More Good Information on Spiritual Abuse Recovery

This article recants a personal experience with Spiritual Abuse. I thought these sections were particularly helpful.

Grieving our losses is also vital to recovery.
Grieving is a process, and processes take time. John and I spent months, even years, grieving. We’re probably still grieving to some degree. We grieved the loss of relationships with people we cared about. We grieved the loss of the joy of worshiping with those people. We grieved the loss of our satisfaction in participating in their lives and in watching many of the ways God revealed himself to each of them. And we grieved the loss of our dreams about enjoying a long, fulfilling history with our church community. Grieving wasn’t only a matter of identifying our losses. Having identified them, John and I needed to allow ourselves to feel the pain of those losses. For me, that meant not distracting myself with a project or with other thoughts when the pain resurfaced—that is, whenever I was in a safe, private place and I wasn’t working against a deadline. Because I knew I
needed to grieve and I rarely was in a safe, private place with time on my hands, I had to build that time and place into my schedule. So during my regular time of prayer, I often invited God to help me feel the pain and to help me grieve. He did.
Feeling pain rarely has short-term benefits. I recommend it only because the long-term benefits far outweigh the pain. When we grieve our losses related to spiritual abuse, when we feel the pain of those losses, we tell ourselves the truth. The truth that what happened was abuse. That it hurt us. That we’re not crazy. That the problem was not with us. That the losses we grieve were truly valuable parts of our lives. As we keep telling ourselves the truth, sooner or later we start to grasp it. And with God’s loving help, the truth sets us free.

Regaining trust probably takes longer than any other step toward recovery from spiritual abuse.
We’re still working on this one. Even now, whenever we hear a pastor say something disrespectful or misleading to a congregation, our internal alarm systems go off so loudly that we feel self-conscious. It appears ironic that regaining trust is an issue for us when we never really trusted Richard in the first place. But having spent so much time guarding ourselves from the pastor, we now find it difficult to do the opposite. While we’re grateful that God has used our experiences of spiritual abuse to increase our radar sensitivity toward other environments that might be spiritually abusive, we’re aware that, as much as we want to trust pastors, we are reluctant to do so. Afraid of getting hurt again, we tend to keep a low profile. Yet we know that not every pastor is abusive. So we’re looking to God to finish healing the wounds that have caused that reluctance. Meanwhile, we’re trying to be patient with ourselves, knowing that God is not displeased with our slow progress.

The most insidious effect of spiritual abuse, of course, is that it can damage the way we view God, so that we distrust him as much as we distrust pastors. If John and I had been less experienced Christians and had trusted Richard and Jill as agents of God, we might have begun to view God himself as deceptive, self-serving, dictatorial, capricious, power-hungry, punitive, shaming, uncaring, and unloving. In fact, we have anguished over the many people who may have begun viewing God in those ways after being hurt by Richard and Jill. Although, as far as we know, the abuse did not damage our perceptions of God—perhaps because we had never trusted the pastor to be any more spiritual than we were—it could have in one way: It could have influenced us to distrust God for allowing the abuse to happen. Both of us often asked God, “Why do you put up with pastors like that? Why don’t you hand their churches over to someone more competent?”

I still can’t answer those questions, any more than I can answer the question of why God lets people suffer any kind of abuse. But I do know this: God was with us throughout our abuse experience, and he was with us afterward, comforting us, helping us sort out our feelings, healing our wounds, and setting us on the path to recovery.

Why Spiritual Abuse is so Damaging

This is a quote from an interview about Spiritual Abuse:

Let me explain that a bit. When someone gets physically abused, they don’t necessarily distrust the Department of Social Services. The abuser wasn’t acting as a representative of the Department of Social Services when they abused the person. Similarly, when a woman gets abused sexually, she doesn’t necessarily distrust the person from the women’s shelter who offers to be helpful. She may distrust men in general, but the agency that is designed specifically to help is not necessarily a problem. The abuser was not acting as a representative of the agency designed to help abused people. So the woman who has been abused is not likely to think, If I go to the people who are from the agency that is designed to help me, I’m going to get hurt even worse. In the case of spiritual abuse, however, there is always a major problem with the “agency” that is specifically “designed” to be helpful: God. The fear is that if you go to God, you will get hurt even worse than you have already been hurt. Spiritual abuse always does damage to our relationship with God. It’s the worst. It’s a wound of the spirit. It’s a wound right down at the core of who we are.

One of the messages of the abusive system is that you have to have complete, total trust. So in recovery from spiritual abuse it is really important to give ourselves room to have little bits of faith. And also to learn to pay attention to our spiritual radar and to reconnect with our sense of blessing—and with the God who gives us that sense of blessing.

Why people hurt us

I thought this was a good post about the trap we fall into sometimes. We give people more credit than we should. Don't get me wrong - we have family and friends that are very dependable. They've laughed with us. They've cried with us. They pray for us. But they're not perfect.

I was visiting with a friend yesterday who left the same church we did. She just retired and was looking forward to spending time with friends. Leisurely lunches and shopping trips! Unfortunately, the friends she was counting on are the ones that so easily rejected us. She's feeling lonely. Yes. People can - no, will - hurt you. The only one we can put all confidence in is Christ himself.

don't call me Veronica: hero

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Couldn't pass this one up

What's the Buzz!: Bolstering One's Position

Links for the blog posts below

These are the articles referenced in the blog entries below from "What's the Buzz?". I recommend reading them in their entirety - as well as the commentary in the blog entries.

Spiritual Abuse, part 1

Spiritual Abuse, part 2

Spiritual Abuse, part 3

Looking for Excuses

Maybe I'm looking for excuses, but this article seems to provide me with the answers I've been looking for in the forgiveness and reconciliation department.

When I left my former church, it was clear that it had been led by a controlling person. It was definately in the early stages - with lots of potential for spiritual abuse. What this article tells me is that there may be no reconciling with the ones I left behind, UNTIL they get out from under that "philosophy". My job at this point is to pray for them. At some point in the future, they may see the control and legalism they have been under. THEN, we can talk.

I hope I'm right. This is the first thing that has made sense to me so far.

What's the Buzz!: Leaving an Abusive Church

What's the Buzz!: Spiritual Abuse

Okay. This hits a little close to home.

What's the Buzz!: Spiritual Abuse

Are Pastors Idols?

This article explores the problem of putting your faith in men, rather than God.

The Bride of Christ

don't call me Veronica: engaging the church

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sunday's sermon

We went to church this past Sunday at the Methodist church we have been attending for several months. The sermon was on the book of Revelation, chapter 6. This is a chapter of judgment, and the pastor sought to explain why it is necessary for God to be not only loving, but also just. He spoke about forgiveness and how there are two different kinds. There's the forgiveness that accompanies reconciliation with another person. But, there is also forgiveness that is simply a release. I can't remember exactly how he worded it. But I remember that the second form of forgiveness was more for the one doing the forgiving. Rather than let your hurt turn to bitterness - just let it go and no longer demand (even in your heart) that justice be done here on earth. We can do that, because we know that God is our defender and will seek justice on our behalf.

Another thing he said that has given me food for thought, is that too many churches these days can be compared to cruise ships. They get together with each other, eat, have endless programs, build extravagant facilities, etc. "But...", he said, "not too long ago the church would not have considered itself a cruise ship. It was a life boat."

Give others the benefit of the doubt

I found this post from Wade to be something worth thinking about. If we truly could al have this attitude - reconciliation wouldn't be an issue.

Grace and Truth to You: A Personal Epiphany: Everyone Has A Filter

Funny but true

I was listening to a speaker on the Focus on the Family radio show. She said, "When God closes a door, get your face out of the way and it won't hurt so much."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Looking for a new church

Here's a post about finding a new church, and how we're unlikely to find exactly what you're looking for. It references a satrical piece that's kind of cute. But mostly it reminds me that it's not "all about me". I need to be in a church that pleases God.

Another church apologizes

Here's an article about an Anglican church in England who is taking a cue from King Hezekiah and inviting the community to return to church.

Unfortunately, I can't find a follow-up article, so I don't know how successful they were. I'll keep looking.

More on leaver-sensitive

Here's another article by Craig Bird that is a little shorter than the one I previously posted a link to.


I found this article about a book called "A Churchless Faith" by Alan Jamieson. The book discusses reasons why people leave the church, and how (surprisingly) their faith ends up stronger rather than weaker. The author of the book is concerned about people leaving, though. He says "leavers" need the church, and the church needs them. He encourages churches to be more "leaver-sensitive" - using the parable of the one lost sheep as his example. Here are a couple of quotes from the article that I found particularly interesting:

"What Jamieson has found in his studies has surprised him. In researching his book, A Churchless Faith, he interviewed 108 leavers. Most were not marginal churchgoers who finally quit but organizational linchpins. Ninety-four percent had been church leaders -- deacons, home-group leaders, elders, Sunday school teachers -- and 32 percent had been in full-time ministry."


"Jamieson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Wellington, New Zealand, told FaithWorks he was shocked to learn that many churches are unaware, even unconcerned, about those who have left. The overwhelming majority of leavers interviewed in his study said no one from their church ever talked with them about why they left. Jamieson's tone is sadly incredulous as he recounts one successful pastor's declaration that Jesus' parable of the lost sheep doesn't apply to those "who know where the paddock is and intentionally wander away" and that godly ministers don't waste time chasing them."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good Advice

Article from a pastor on what we should do in midst of a conflict.

Total Truth: Conflict in our Churches and the SBC

Monday, August 07, 2006


My sister sent me a devotional this morning. I think it is timely, because even though I am not particulary worried about my situation (in an obsessive sense) the devotion reminds me to wait on God's direction. We're not called to "keep all the plates spinning". We're called to obedience. So now, we sit and wait for His guidance. And hopefully, we can be obedient - even if He asks us to do something hard.

Key Verse:
Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

Devotion: The Plate Spinner
Whenever you see the word ‘therefore’ in the Bible, you can be sure it is ‘there for’ a very special reason. Rick Warren asked the question in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “What is your life metaphor?” I always pictured the plate spinner at the circus. Between my husband, kids, job, friends and service duties, it seemed one plate was always wobbling! And just when I would focus my attention on the current unstable area, out of the corner of my eye I would spot another careening toward the floor. No matter how hard I tried, someone or something reminded me that my attention was not evenly distributed. I remember one afternoon dropping to my knees in total exhaustion and wailing, “It’s never enough!” Isn’t it interesting that it took an empty me to finally collapse into the position God had been longing to see me in? In Jeremiah 1:8 God promises, “…I am with you to deliver you.” And in Matthew 6:33 the key is found to eliminate exhaustion: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”

Does that mean that plates will never crash if we seek him first? No, it means we will never crash. The promise is to deliver you!

Oswald Chambers says, “We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it.” Possessions and people let us down and often cause heartache and turmoil, however when our focus is on the Maker, our complaining turns to continuing steadily on.

In the key verse Jesus is telling us, if your priority is seeking Him and His righteousness first, then there is no reason to worry at all about wobbly situations in your life, for our Deliverer will keep us steady.

Luke 12:22, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” (NIV)

Luke 21:14, “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 1:10, “On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” (NIV)

My Sweet Jesus, thank you for caring about details so we don’t have to. Help me today to stop worrying about the unstable things in my life and focus first on my relationship with You, in The Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

So what do you do?

I've been wrestling with the question - What do I do now that I've been hurt? It's been almost a year and I have really gotten beyond most of the visible emotions of the situation. I don't cry or act angry every time someone brings it up. So now what?

Up until last week, I was trying to put it behind me. Treat it like a divorce. They made their choice. I did what was best for my family (leave). Now I need to settle into another church. I've been blessed to attend a church for the last three months that seems to understand how to love people. It will take time to build relationships, but there are plenty of opportunities for service and it appears to be a healthy spiritual environment. This is particulary important for my children's sake.

Then, I had a conversation with a friend who believes neither us nor the church we left will truly heal until we reconcile. The Bible does speak a lot about reconciliation. But it has to be a two-way street. I believe that if Paul and Peter never reconciled their differences, Paul would have gone on without him. But that conversation has now (potentially) put some responsibility back on me, and I don't know what to do with it.

My prayer that day was a little different. I ask God what he would have me to do. I'm scared to death what He's going to say. But, so far, I do not feel the Holy Spirit leading me to contact anyone about reconciliation.

Guess it needs more prayer. In the meantime, I have to move on - for my own sanity.