Recovering From Church Hurt

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God called me to be a pastor to the lost sheep a few years ago. I didn’t even know it was a thing. I asked God how I was supposed to make a living and He said I will provide.

So here I am writing this from Korea, crossing mountains and oceans for lost sheep.

Confused, helpless lost sheep were my assignments because I was one.

Growing up going to church I faithfully served people thinking that was my mission on earth. When I moved to America I quickly gained mentors that would show me the ways of God. I was a quick disciple, I brought people to church.

But I saw a sad pattern. The people I brought to church, that I loved as friends quickly converted…yet as soon as they converted suddenly joined a conservative Christian group and because I never really fit into the “type” of Christian these groups embodied, I was outcasted.

So the friends that I helped no longer saw me as friends.

I accepted that, but it still hurt.

Because all the rules that these Christian groups created for their “cult” was really to have a sense of control over their followers.

Like growing up an immigrant, moving from country to country, I was again outcasted by the very friends I helped and loved.

Nearing the end of my stay in conventional conservative church, I had a few leaders suddenly accuse me of not taking care of the sheep.

The truth is what happened was I was talking to someone I had to brought to church and some Christian complained that I wasn’t spending time with her because she had problems she wanted to talk to me about.

I was in college then and doing youth ministry.

I thought it was so ironic that I was supposed to take care of everyone, yet what in the hell were the older leaders doing then?

The responsibility of the pastors were to take care of christians, I was always someone who wanted to reach out to outsiders or lost sheep.

I didn’t have enough mouths or hands, I was just one person…yet I was spread soooo thin. I got home one day and started sobbing.
I was so exhausted from being Jesus to people.

This was just the beginning of a long journey of recovery.

One mentor accused me of going the wrong path and she cursed me, saying I’d go down the path of destruction.

I was hurt and confused, wait what just happened here?

When I left the church people had so many agendas to keep me there. Why didn’t I go to them to pray about it?

I was already hearing God’s voice by then and He had clearly told me to move on.

He said I had reached my ceiling there, I couldn’t grow any more there.

I don’t go to church, I am the church. Christians are called to go ye therefore and make disciples. It never says go to church, it says that they gathered and broke bread. What church looks like is christians actually supporting each other, not just listening to a sermon and leaving.

I am reminded of the recent suicide of a young pastor who couldn’t process his hurt with anyone. I wonder if it’s because no one was church to him. He had a church but was there anyone that could cry with him, I’m not talking about his wife…I’m talking about friends that really had his back when things turned to shit.

I get angry when I hear sermons that say “well millenials have no commitment, they don’t want to go to church”. What we have seen is leaders abuse their powers, control their followers, teach the law and legalism (and not grace), go on political rants (when the love of God has nothing to do with which political party you’re in), hate and judge people and so forth.

Am I perfect? No.

But somehow because of what I experienced, my heart aches a lot more for those who have walked away because of church hurt. I’m not talking about walking away from a church building, I’m talking about not being able to open your heart to anyone because of the pain.

The other day a girl I met on the train asked me “does God hate gays?” She had initially stated she wasn’t Christian but afterward said she was kind of Christian.

No – God loves gay people.

He loves everyone. Intensely. I don’t know everything in the Bible, sometimes I don’t get it but I know God is love so God wouldn’t hate anyone.

I have friends that are Christian and gay.

I said that’s all I know- that God loves them.

God keeps breaking my heart more and more. The more I talk to “lost sheep” the more my heart breaks. I feel their hurt and I feel their pain.

Yet in spite of that I have to speak life into that wounded place.

It’s a heavy assignment.

I often feel attacked and oppressed by the enemy. I often feel like I can’t do it anymore. I often want to quit….but in that moment I find myself sobbing with God. God you keep breaking me open.

You keep showing me what your love is like…that you would do anything for the one, the one stumbling and falling on rocks, alone and scared. Shaking in fear.

That reckless love that has no limit.

I never really fit in anywhere and there was a purpose for being so unique…it’s so I can talk to people who don’t fit anywhere too.

I’m a pastor to unicorns, beautiful rainbow unicorns.

God does not require that humans approve of you before you are called. You are called and whether humans approve of you, well it doesn’t matter.

I hear a roar of the rejected ones. Forgive and love. You’ve been hurt but true love comes from forgiveness. Allow the reckless love of God to seep into your soul. Be the church to those who are hurting too.

Together we will show the world that God isn’t what the conventional church painted Him to be….but that He is love.

Love is action, form. Not just a saying. It is not judgemental, it is grace. It is all encompassing, all forgiving. It knows no bounds.

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