If you have spent any amount of time with a group of people in any setting, there is every possibility, they will hurt you in some way. I’m sure we have all experienced hurt from people on our work or even from our friends, and family. So many people never expect to get hurt by people particularly at their church, but it happens there too. Yes, church, is declared as a place where love and the presence of God will be and is supposed to abide, however sadly it has been the source of extreme hurt for a large number of people. So, what can we do when it happens to us? The following may help you in coping with the incidence of hurt.
This may be difficult to do, and the last thing you feel like doing, but before you react, say or do anything, I highly recommend that you pray first as God has the ability to fill a multitude of roles in our lives. In situations like this, you can use God as both a counsellor and a sounding board. When you pray, ask God what you should do, and ask God what He thinks and instructs.
The hurt you experience may be too extreme for you to wait to hear what the Lord has to say. Your emotions may be to the point where you can’t even hear God clearly. That is a completely normal human response. If this is the case, you can exercise 1 Peter 5:7 The Message (MSG) 6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. Unload all of your feelings and emotions on to God. Let it all out. Once you have finished, take some time so God can respond and speak to you about this situation. You may feel so hurt that you are not able to do this alone so seek out someone you can trust who is honest and trustworthy, not to gossip to, but accept their help and support.
Separate The Church From God
It is natural for people to connect the church to God. When somebody hurts you, it is not God’s fault. It doesn’t matter how long this person has been a Christian or even a leader and how spiritual they appear to be. We are all human, and we are all prone to make mistakes and make bad judgements, although they can not be swept under the carpet and ignored, or allowed as an excuse for abusive behaviour. Super-spiritual advice in this situation is not helpful as reality has to be faced and handled accordingly.
God promised to never leave you or forsake you. God promised to love you with an everlasting love. The people at the church can’t make that same promise. God gives us all free will. It is never God’s intention for you to be hurt. Don’t turn your back on Him after being hurt by a man or woman as this can be a great temptation to state “this life style doesn’t work and what is the point of being hurt or maybe controlled through my life”. It is possible you may have to change and you were in the wrong or the situation you were in was not as God intended or desired. So you make the adjustment in your own life or accept it may be time to release yourself from it with no agenda, and see what the next step God has for you. Maybe in some instances times of recuperation and evaluation are necessary.
Don’t give the situation dwelling time. After having made your decision to leave/stay/resolve don’t dwell on it allowing your thoughts to go over and over it again, and even develop varying scenarios of what ifs. It is important for you and others that you do not gossip and share unwisely your experience. When the memory is triggered don’t dwell on it but turn your thoughts with intention onto another subject.
Talk To The Person That Hurt You
Follow the scripture in how to handle this. Matthew 18:15-17 The Message (MSG) 15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. After praying you may feel that you just need to deal with your own attitude or in certain instances maybe seeking Godly council, you may feel to have a conversation with the person that hurt you. Dependant on the seriousness of the offence take a trustworthy third party with you. It is important that you try to keep the conversation calm, respectful and civil. Clearly explain to the person how they hurt you but go with an open mind and demonstrate grace.
Be Willing To Forgive
The person that hurt you might have done it intentionally, unintentionally, naively, or a misunderstanding. Your forgiveness will go a long way towards your healing process irrespective of the reason behind the hurt, or the inflicting persons continuing response.
After being hurt, you may make the necessary adjustments in your own life or want to leave the church. Ask yourself, what is it God wants you to do? You may think that Christians would be above harmful behaviour. Just because we follow Jesus, that does not mean that we or they are perfect and exempt from making foolish decisions. If you find that you are in a situation that is not Godly you need to ask yourself would God want, you to stay? Remember, prayer and peace in your heart in your decision making is essential in whatever you do.
We are His Church, and when us the church live the way God designed it to function, we will see a manifestation of God’s power and glory in His church and our daily lives.