Right now I’m sitting on my couch by my husband, window cracked so we can listen to the storm. I’m thankful for moments like this. It’s overwhelming to look back on all the circumstances this life has thrown at me. I’ve had some very low lows that I knew were impossible to crawl out of on my own. The Lord always picked me up and carried me through them. Always.
I want to share this piece of my story, but I know the only way I can is if I’m barefaced and transparent. And that scares the craaaap out of me.
Today I became a member of the church I’ve called home for the past 3 years. Here’s why that’s a pretty big deal…
I was a young woman. Coming out of childhood and figuring out just who I was and where my life was headed. I was zealous, motivated, happy.. and naive.
One Sunday morning, I was pulled out of my class and told I needed to start counseling that week. I didn’t understand. But confused and trusting, I said “okay.”
Manipulation quickly turned to abuse and a bright eyed girl quickly turned to a disheartened mess.
It took months for me to tell my parents. I felt ashamed. I was embarrassed. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but would anyone else? Slowly, I began to uncover details, secrets, and expose my broken heart to my family.
Their hearts broke with mine.
My dad likes to fix things, he always has. It’s one of the most endearing and frustrating things about him. Look at his hands, and you’ll see he’s a man that doesn’t leave broken things unfixed. Often times you’ll hear me telling him to “just relax, that can be taken care of later!” Nevertheless, he sees a need, and he won’t quit until it’s taken care of.
His immediate response was fix this.
The following few months felt like a whirlwind. The other pastors and elders of that church visited our house to talk over exactly what happened. Those conversations were painful. What I was told during some of those meetings was like rubbing salt in an open wound. “Justice is a desire of the flesh,” I was told, while honestly sharing my heart with these people. They were wrong.
A few weeks later, I sat in that church, with nearly 200 other people, while from the pulpit, the congregation was told why this man would no longer be in leadership and why he was not welcome anymore.
In a room full of people making excuses for him and wanting to “show him grace” and forgiveness, I was shaking. It took everything in me to not scream at the top of my lungs. But then again, I felt empty, maybe I’d be capable of a yelp. Of those nearly 200, only one stood up and asked if the victim was okay.
I wasn’t okay.
I abode by their request that I stay silent about the details, and that I not reveal myself as the one that was hurt, but we left the church after that meeting, never to return, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that it was me.
I received hurtful letters that crushed me, my parents were accused of making it up. “If the ‘victim’ were being truthful…” guys, I’m not kidding…The QUOTE victim UNQUOTE.
This is when I realized that people can just really suck sometimes. Humans are capable of so dramatically hurting other people, perhaps without them even realizing it.
My faith was hardcore shaken. It was a daily battle to not allow these people and the man who wronged me to taint my view of who Jesus is. It would have been so easy to walk away, it probably would have felt pretty good to just be mad at God for a while. But through all of this, He showered me with His love and so gently put my broken pieces back together.
When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to look back on that time of my life and not cry or feel a slight surge of anger, but I do know that God has delivered me from all of it. Everyday I heal a little more.
After all of this happened, a local, biblically sound church took my family in and showed us so much love.
I feel safe there.
Trusting again is scary. Church membership terrified me. It’s not something I wanted to just dive into with my heart in the wrong place. I was skeptical. I usually jolted out the door the second service was over. Many Sundays, I only made it to the church parking lot, where Scotty graciously sat with in the car me and let me cry it out. 3 years and LOTS of prayer later, here I am! Joining this body of Christ.
I sat back for so long and watched these people. I watched how they care for each other, humbly admit when they’re wrong, and lovingly point each other to the Lord. I watched, and trust was built. I know these people will fail, but I also know that here, I am cared for. This is home.
People will let you down. I promise you that. They will hurt you, too. People aren’t capable of being perfect examples of Jesus, so don’t expect that of them. Know who He is by His word.
To the people that sat silent, I forgive you. To the ones that sent crushing letters, I believe that it wasn’t your intention to crush me, but even if it was, I forgive you.