6 Ways to Find Healing After Being Hurt by the Church

Healing from Church Abuse: 6 Steps

That was not why I was coming back for a second visit. A glutton for punishment, perhaps? Somehow, though, I kept coming back for more. As I was leaving that evening following the service, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the realization that something wasn’t quite right. There was no ill will left over. When I saw their faces or heard their voices, I forgot about the harm they’d done. At last, the cycle of forgiveness was complete.

Even if time can not mend everything, it can help with some of the pain. If you’re here reading this, I can assume you’ve been injured by the church. Almost forgotten recollections would surface when we sat around a coffee shop table sipping something warm and chocolatey and swapping battle experiences. Having a nice rant, right? The satisfaction is fleeting, though. We need to stop expressing our anger and start mending.

Cease your gnawing on the stale metaphor

We tend to ruminate over past hurts, much like a cow might bring up the cud to munch on it again. Even if we manage to keep our mouths shut about the terrible things that have happened to us in churches, the mental anguish we endure from dwelling on them is just as real. Every time we think we’ve moved past the trauma, the offender’s words, deeds, and falsehoods all come flooding back. Whenever Satan tries to mess with our heads, it’s never a good moment. Our adversary builds mental fortresses that only God can destroy. Safeguarding our mental health requires training ourselves to “take captive” (or “subdue”) our ideas so that they serve Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The words of Paul to the Colossians come to mind whenever I feel those memories beginning to resurface:

Think about heaven rather than earth. The New International Version of Colossians 3:2 says this.

Please Avoid Isolation

We tend to withdraw from others when we’ve experienced hurt and pain at the hands of other people or in the context of a relationship. Ignore it and move on. Stay back a little bit. The last thing God wants is for us to stop going to church, but that’s what we might do. It’s normal to go cautiously, yet protecting our sensitive hearts should not lead us to isolate ourselves from others.

God made us with one another in mind. Our friendship is what he longs for. He also longs for us to spend time together as a community.

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“When compared to working alone, having a partner ensures a higher rate of return on investment.
I feel sorry for the person who trips and has no one to help them up.
In addition, body heat is conserved when two people lie down together.
How, then, does a solitary person keep warm?
Even while one person can’t protect themselves against a strong opponent, two people can.
Three strands of a cable cannot be easily severed.”

The New International Version of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

After learning that the wicked queen Jezebel planned to have him killed, Elijah fled to the mountains, leaving his servant behind in Judah (1 Kings 19:3). In the following verse, a worn-out and despondent Elijah begs God to take his life. Why did this prophet, who had just brought much-needed rain and fire from the heavens, end himself in this state? He went off by himself and began thinking deeply about things. After that, Elijah started making things up and then insisting that they were true.

Try to Find the Reality, Not Just the Facts

To Elijah’s mind, no other prophet in Israel shared his fervor for the Lord (1 Kings 19:14). The truth was made known to Elijah by God. In Israel, God provided seven thousand men like Elijah (1 Kings 19:18). Unfortunately, there are those among us who are motivated by evil and who have caused us pain. Most people didn’t mean to be harmful in any way. They have their heads in the clouds and can’t see the damage they’ve done. This was something I called out someone for once. She apologized, saying she hadn’t meant to be disrespectful or insensitive.

Don’t buy into the false belief that you lack value or significance. A big mystery for me was always their decision to leave me out. Since I was blind, I just thought that others didn’t want to deal with a helpless old person like me. It might be difficult to tell reality from fiction, which is why we need to examine God’s truth.

I hope that I am not a bother to you. God has assured me that I am incredibly special (Ps. 139:14). God has adopted me (Eph. 1:5). If someone has shamed you into believing anything untrue, remember that your true identity is found in Christ, not in that lie. Remember that God has called you exactly who you are.

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Get Away From Negative Influences.

If you’ve been injured at church, you have the right to decide whether or not to return, but you also have the right to establish limits with the people who caused your suffering. It’s unclear whether cutting links with certain groups, be they friends, acquaintances, activities, religious affiliations, or even entire religions, will aid in recovery. Pray over these choices and seek God’s counsel as you choose them. The grass on the other side isn’t always greener; it’s simply different, and sometimes we want to run so far away from certain people that we forget the grass back home is just as bad.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the only road to recovery, but it’s a long journey, not a quick fix. Feelings of resentment and bitterness prevent us from wanting to forgive. Repeated trauma to the same area necessitates a fresh round of healing.

According to the Bible, forgiveness is more of a decision than a sentiment. No of how we feel about it, we have to make this decision. Avoiding the source of bitterness is facilitated by the decision to forgive as soon as possible. It’s already hard to forgive when bitterness has a chance to take hold.

Recently, I’ve been in a position where the same person has repeatedly slashed me in the chest. I feel shame for the resentment that built up inside of me while I waited for the appropriate opportunity to vent my frustrations on someone else. I like seeing them go through hardships. To think like that is to displease God. As a result, the Holy Spirit is offended, prayers go unanswered, and God’s benefits are denied us. Paul’s words to the Ephesians can be found in his letter below:

“Cast aside any and all resentment, hostility, fury, brawling, slander, and other forms of malice. Treat one another kindly and compassionately, forgiving each other’s transgressions as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 New International Version.

Reconciling or mending strained relationships isn’t an automatic byproduct of forgiving others. If we are serious about making amends and mending fences, it will take more time. To forgive is all that God asks of us.

There is no greater way to imitate Christ than through forgiveness. Take a look at all the incorrect attitudes and unholy thoughts He has forgiven in us. He not only pardoned us, but He also bought back our sins with His own blood.

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Even in His own hometown of Nazareth, Christ was mocked and rejected. He was beaten and whipped till His body was covered with bruises and blood. They mocked and spat at Him. His forehead was slashed with thorns. As He hung on the cross, struggling for breath, He was nailed to it. He was crucified. When I consider all that Jesus went through without complaining to anybody, not even his closest friends, I am awestruck and humbled. I’ve harbored resentment for far less.

It is the forgiver who receives the gift of forgiveness. The individual who caused me harm is unaffected by whether or not I forgive them. I am the only one who has to deal with this. When we can’t or won’t forgive, we cause harm to ourselves. Whoever hurt you has already done enough damage. Why let holding a grudge towards them limit you? There’s nothing we can do to stop other people from acting, but we always have complete command over how we react.

Indeed, God Heals

In other words, “He stitches up the wounds of the brokenhearted” (Psalm 147:3 NIV).

As an adult, I was rescued by God. When I walked into the church, I was anticipating a community of saints whose hearts were bursting with unconditional love. In reality, the members of God’s church are flawed sinners who have been rescued by Christ. Does it seem like they’ve gotten it right? Occasionally, but not constantly. Christians are sometimes referred to as “little Christs,” yet even at our finest, we fall well short of that ideal.

No longer do I plan on accomplishing the impossible. Actually, I fully anticipate suffering another injury in the near future.

Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us that we would face trials in this life, but He also promised that because He has overcome the world, we would do the same (John 16:33). Our God will bandage our wounds (Psalm 147:3). He will restore our broken spirits, and we will emerge from the ashes as radiant, powerful daughters of the Most High.

You have a choice: let the wrongs done to you define you, or forgive and let God transform you. The path of forgiveness is the one I have chosen. You have a decision to make today; what will it be?

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