There's no hurt like church hurt.
I've heard this phrase over and over again in my life. And it makes no sense. Some might even call it an oxymoron. In the one place that should be filled with love, peace and understanding, why would the phenomenon of mean-spiritedness become so widespread....we have to name it?
Because it's true.
At times, I have found myself leaving the church parking lot with tears in my eyes. I would drive down the street, feeling heartbroken and replaying the offensive comments in my head. Maybe I'm wrong, I would reason. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Maybe they were just speaking the truth in love.
Yet, I'd come back to this sacred place and find no apologies. Just more finger-pointing and shaming. These people who claimed to love me treated me more like a schoolyard bully. What's worse, I couldn't defend myself. If they were in my age range, this could have been settled in a come to Jesus meeting after morning worship. But these were grandmothers--my elders--who felt they had the right to kick me while I was down.
It left scars on my heart. That's the definition of a church hurt.
After church today, a dear friend came up to me with tears in her eyes. Before she even opened her mouth, I knew what had happened. Church hurt. Those same people who say they love you and want to help you, but use their mouths to tear you apart. To make you feel less than. My anger reached epic proportions as I listened to her story. It's been a long time since I've experienced church hurt, but all those feelings came rushing back to the surface. I wanted to march right back in the church, find the offenders and tell them off. It would start with how dare you and end with....well, some not so Christian words.
But I stopped myself. To tear them down would just be perpetuating the cycle. In fact, I actually feel sorry for the Senior Mean Girls. They probably believe they are doing the right thing. Someone in a previous generation probably talked to them the same way, so they think that's the way you're supposed to help people. 'Cause it obviously works. I mean, that's why people come back to church Sunday after Sunday--to experience verbal abuse, right? *sarcasm*
I will say this until I no longer have a voice: there is a way to say things. You have to treat people with the same dignity and respect you would want for yourself. And if you want people to talk to you like this...well, you probably need more help than I can give.
I know there are no specifics in this entry, but does there really need to be? We've all been there. Someone doesn't like the length of your dress or the way you wear your hair. This person thinks you should have been married by now and that person wants to know why you haven't had any kids. That one wants to know why you never speak to her. Maybe it's because she spends her days cursing your name to other members. The one in the corner thinks you try to run everything; the one at the front thinks you aren't doing enough. And the one on the right thinks you need to lose another twenty pounds....and tells you so every chance she can get.
What would Jesus do? Not this. Definitely not this.