All of us have been hurt at sometime in our lives.
Most often the deepest pain has come from those the closest to us, those we trusted and loved.
Probably the hardest things to get over are those things that were done to us which we feel we did not deserve — harsh and mean situations that happened for no reason.
It took me a long time to begin to accept that there actually are individuals in this world who are truly hateful, mean-spirited people. They seem to enjoy hurting others and they rarely have caring or concern for anyone but themselves.
Thankfully, those kind of folks are few. Most human beings just naturally have a need to love and be loved and can be touched by the troubles of others.
It is also a given fact that if you live long enough on this Earth, something will come along one day that will totally bowl you over and cause devastation and despair. The loss of a loved one, discovery of disease, divorce, automobile accidents, financial ruin, physical and mental abuse, natural disasters and betrayal by friends are some of those things that can change our lives forever.
There are tons of helpful books, intense recovery programs and even many websites today which address these issues and do it well. I will leave that to them. That’s not what I want to discuss.
I want to talk about what happens when you get hurt by someone in the Church. Perhaps it is the institution of the Church itself that has harmed you, left you wounded and lost.
The internet has also been called the information highway and you can learn so much, I mean, about everything, if you search for it.
People are talking and sharing about every single subject you can think of, expressing their experiences and opinions in detail.
I was surprised to find websites for Church Abuse, Bible Abuse, Pastor Abuse and to find people discussing these issues openly and candidly, often naming names and places and describing events to the letter. YouTube, blogs, private sites and on and on.
Talk about eye opening! I found most of these people to be honest and sincere, and sad. Of course there are fakes and frauds in everything these days, but I feel you can about sense the truth in the way people talk.
It is often about someone’s journey away from these abuses and about their success in doing so.
There are some things common to them all. One is that it takes a very long time to get over the hurt and disappointment, to recover and go on with your life and second, some never do.
Many remain broken and confused — even many years later. I was one of them.
If you look hard enough, you will find your own journey in someone else’s story. Even though the enlightenment is freeing in many ways, it can make you very sad to find out all the things you thought were true about your experiences were indeed real and you were only one of many.
Some give up on God and religion all together or at least for a long time. Trying to change your thoughts and behaviors to more healthier ways can be very hard.
Old tapes can be almost impossible to erase. When you have been raised up in something all of your life, from the time you were a child, it is difficult to change your belief system.
Many people spend years in therapy and all kinds of recovery options, working diligently on their issues to shed guilt, fear, shame and anger and then must practice these recovery modes for the rest of their lives. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy.
And just when you think you have forgiven it all, you have worked hard on all of your own character defects, confessed your part in it all and made amends to those you have harmed, something happens that triggers that emotion you thought was fixed, some incident brings things painfully back to your memory and you feel hurt all over again.
Some person, maybe the one who did you the wrong to begin with, gigs you for pure meanness or pushes your button or slams you again, kicks you when you’re down and suddenly all the grief and sadness comes rushing back. It can throw you, IF you let it.
I heard a renown minister from Texas speaking at a large meeting some years ago and he said that in his years in the ministry he had heard people who were supposed to have the Holy Ghost say some of the most awful, nasty things to one another.
He said that sometimes he thought he would faint. One of our beloved sisters sitting on the front row said, “I have prayed to faint.”
So it’s true. Those things do happen. As a young boy growing up in the Church, it took me a long time to fully understand that Paul was writing to the Church, not to the world.
I just could not believe that the things he preached about were really happening in Churches and in people who had really received the Holy Ghost until I saw it acted out in front of me.
He clearly instructed us and warned us NOT to do those things and I thought we’d all grow up one day and stop doing those hateful things to one another, but we didn’t and just when I think we have learned our lesson, BLAM! somebody broadsides me and I am knocked down.
So, what DO you do now?
I bet you’re expecting some big philosophical answer. Sorry about that. The answer is, you get angry, you crumple to the floor and you cry your heart out and you tell God just how wrong and unfair it is.
Then you stand up, dry your eyes and you dust your britches off and you hold your head back up where it belongs.
You remind yourself that you’ve worked too hard and you’ve come too far and you’ve paid your dues and that there isn’t anything or anybody worth going down that road again.
That hurt is in the past. It doesn’t belong to today.
First Published: January 26, 2010.
~ Robert Blackburn