The first parts of the ReGathering focused on the metaphors “jeans that no longer fit” and “jeans that have been ripped off.” These topics brought up the pain that many of the women had experienced in the church. Some of that pain came because they were women trying to serve God, but there were other stories as well. I found myself overwhelmed at the hurt the church inflicts on its own. Here are my journal thoughts in response to listening to those stories. -
We sing “They will know we are Christians by our love,” but all too often I instead hear about the pain, hurt and hatred done by Christians. On one hand there is the harm done to those outside the faith, but what seems most alarming is the hurt Christians inflict upon each other.
I have heard story after story of Christians who have been wounded deeply by others in the church. Believers who leave church crying every week. Believers whose passions have been mocked and whose dreams have been crushed because they don’t fit within a certain box. Believers who have been pushed out of a church family because the questions they are asking are unacceptable. Believers whose very love and passion for Jesus is dismissed because they hold a particular view on a certain doctrine. Believers who have been called by the Holy Spirit to teach and minister, but whose calling is denied because of their gender or color of skin.
When doctrine becomes more important than relationships, when your God becomes too big for the box, when power triumphs over love, when trivia supercedes mystery, when personality preferences quench the spirit of mission, when prayer is used to manipulate, and when pastors lie and gossip about their staff – something is wrong. To deny that there is an issue is to deny the pain that the victims have felt.
And so what does one do? Does one stay silent and endure the pain? (and shrivel up and die inside?) There is much to be said for forgiveness and mercy. To work through the pain to bring healing is a goal to be sought. But sometimes something more must be done. Sometimes the place you are in is so dangerous and toxic to ones soul that to remain there could lead to damage that could never be repaired. Sometimes to flee the danger, to find the antidote to the poison, to save one's soul is the only option we can affirm. Sometimes we must pursue dreams, answer the call, and listen to the prompting of the Spirit.
The pain can then be used. Used to push us not only out of danger, but be used to move us to a new and better and healthy place. We endure what we have to endure until God releases us and pushes us onward. Being open to hearing and then following God’s voice can be frightening, but the joy and healing is worth taking the first steps.
Labels: Emerging Women, Reflections