A lesson in why I adore Jen Hatmaker.

The following was from Jen Hatmaker’s FB page this morning:

“A second quick word to all my Church Wounded folks. Surely you know I love you deeply. I want you to know that I am no stranger to this particular pain. In fact, church was the scene of my deepest and most devastating heartbreak. Took three years to heal. Church, at one time or another, has deeply hurt my parents, my closest friends, and my siblings.

I GET THIS. I really do.

I know what it is like to be in an unsafe church environment, and those certainly exist because unfortunately, the church is made of people and it seems there is no way around it. Those wounds cut especially deep, and I completely, fully identify with those of you in your pain still keeping arms length. (I remember asking Brandon after our own grief, “Is there anything else you can do? Do you have any other skills? Is there any way we can not do church?” Bless.)

The crazy thing is, church has healed me more than it has hurt me. It really has. I have a different space for it. I no longer expect church to do for me what only God can. That took a lot of pressure off. Church is an imperfect apparatus to bring together people searching for God. Pastors are extremely human, more than we wish. The church is definitely not a gathering of shiny new pennies.

Dear one, if you are in a season of healing, then let God heal you. He can be found anywhere. He certainly isn’t contained within a building, for the love. If you need to rest, rest. But maybe one day when you’re ready, you can try again. There is a safe faith community for you. This I know. It exists. It may be some teeny, tiny little place. It may be some big, fancy loud place. It may be with the Episcopalians or with a home church. Who knows?

And you are an important part of it. It’s not just that you will receive. You will give too. We need you. You bring something special and important to the body and don’t forget it. God heals all of us through each other. It’s this crazy weird miracle.

So all my love to you too today. I just can’t help it: I still believe that we can come together in our little places and love God and each other well…as well as humans can. I’ve just seen it happen too much. God still has to do all the heavy lifting, thank goodness. But we can come – broken, banged up, bruised.

You are so loved and precious. God can bind up even the worst wounds. And His people can be so beautiful, so loving, so healing. I pray you find them, in whatever context, wherever you are, exactly as you are.”

Oh goodness, Jen, straight tears this AM. Such truth AND hope in this message. First, my belief: Church does NOT make you anymore a believer than those who don’t attend- like at all. God is limitless, y’all. That said, we pack it up most Sunday’s and take our crazy caravan to church- gladly seeking worship, community, and His presence. Yet, while we love our church community, we do, we also both (in different ways) have been reminded through our own life experiences not to pour all of our needs and “expectations” (wooftie, lessons here) whole-heartedly onto their (church, believers, etc) plates, alone. Those needs, well, they belong with our Father. He alone is ALL we need. He alone is our Healer and Redeemer.

However, a part of my own heart awakes daily, especially on Sunday mornings, in prayer specifically for those wounded or hurt by the church or even by the believers that it holds, believers like myself. Prior to my own surrender and honestly, even at times after, some of my greatest heart wounds (released now, praise Him) have come at the hands and presumed judgement of “believers”… BUT… God. The Lord grew my heart through each of those very intentional experiences to recognize my own sinful expectations rooted deep within its chambers. He grew me to recognize that I had falsely expected sin to be absent and for a magical perfectionism to appear with salvation, so believers were NOT supposed to hurt or judge me, right?!? (Oh how He and I have laughed over this crazy, early assumption.) Jesus met me on my knees and helped me see that the real truth was that I aided them in making me feel undeserving or cast out, stripped and judged. I had done so myself by creating ridiculous standards for the church and believers, as well as placing “people” and “acceptance” above my Jesus (Whom already loved and accepted His child). Thus, I was setting us all up for failure, really.

Y’all, I am a believer, BUT I am also still a sinner with a sharp tongue of my own at times. Through each tear and alongside of me all of those years fleeing the church, myself, He pursued me, meeting me in my brokenness and faithfully reminding me time and time again that in this life only, ONLY He will never forsake me (you as well). AGAIN, guys, only He. I will love you, friend, I do in fact, but I will fail you (likely have already). I will and have failed my boys, wounding both of their hearts dearly. Yet all that aside, together, you and I, through both our hurts and our own sinful ways, y’all, we can commune together as His children- broken, real hearts and all. We can walk this continual, daily road to redemption as one body. We can help one another heal JUST as quickly as we have hurt one another- I speak this glorious Truth first hand and I praise Him for reforming my own heart when it came to such misled ideas/expectations regarding the church. I praise Him for living forgiveness, active faith, and endless mercy/redemption. I too was greatly wounded once, yet since, healed ten fold by some of those same hands and hearts. (I also have found forgiveness and healing with those who I’ve wounded- so grateful.)

We are all fallen but He is so much bigger than us and our sin, so much. He has taken what once were my wounds, causing me to flee Him, and He has used them to grow within my heart a DEEP, open armed compassion for people. I was made better by it all in the end, that can be seen in the ways my own heart desires now to serve in our church and my family- extending a vast love void of limits or presumption, because I know those wounds, personally. Yet if I do sin in this area (and I have), I also have lived His limitless redemption and forgiveness. Y’all, intention, I tell you. He takes our sin and He makes it beautiful in His own gloriously sovereign ways! Church, well it’s a place that we could see real, live Grace set straight on fire. XOXO

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