When your only recourse is to flee…
How often have you been made to feel like your pain isn’t valid? How many times have you tried to “get over the pain” caused by someone else but you felt guilty that you couldn’t get rid of the pain?
I wonder if this has anything to do with our culture, INCLDUING the Christian culture – that makes us believe we should just forgive and forget – and move on!
I believe we must forgive. Jesus Christ tells us to forgive. Jesus Christ tells us our prayers are hindered when we don’t forgive.
Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
We need to forgive.
But where does Jesus Christ ever tell us we have no right to be in pain or aren’t allowed to admit our pain – or where does He ever say we don’t need time to work through our pain?
It’s so wonderful to know we have a Savior who adores us.
We have a Savior who would never treat us the way we treat each other. God wants us to express our pain. He wants us to talk to Him about our pain. He wants us to seek His wisdom when we are in pain – and HE graciously allows us the time we need to heal from our pain.
As a fifteen-year believer it has taken me many years to realize that my Lord and Savior loves me personally, and HE cares about my pain. I don’t ever go to God in shame for being hurt. I cry to Him. I tell Him how much I am hurting. I tell Him why it hurts. I ask Him to help me see my mistakes in a particular situation. I ask Him to help me heal. I ask Him often to help me mend broken relationships.
In Mark 3:5; Jesus was angry and sad within his heart about the uncaring attitude of the Pharisees. Jesus healed a man with a deformed hand, but the Pharisees wanted to accuse Him of doing work on the Sabbath.
“He looked around at them angrily and deeply saddened.”
This passage reminds us that Jesus Christ had emotions. He angry and sad.
We are the ones who make people feel like whatever they are dealing with is no big deal. We are the ones laughing at the people we hurt. We are the ones who justify our horrible actions, manipulate people after we have hurt them, then go to church, Bible study, serve in our grand leadership positions at church – and then we foolishly think all of this is okay with God.
The Summer of 2009
I was a one-year believer in Jesus Christ when I was asked to be a leader in a very large and prominent ministry at the church our family was attending. I was asked to write a monthly newsletter for one of the ministries. I found a beautiful template that summer and started to work on it. When I presented the newsletter to the ministry, they loved it! They were so excited about it.
Like all editors, I had a small picture of me and “note from the editor” on the newsletter introducing the readers to the newsletter each month. I promoted other events happening at the church. I highlighted certain people in that ministry. Each month I had a guest writer write an article. It was a cute, sweet newsletter and I loved and was thankful to God for the opportunity.
Prior to distribution the church communications office sent me a set of guidelines to follow. Everything distributed to the congregation had to fall under the same writing style as everything else. I spent the summer working on the first newsletter prior to the August ministry kickoffs!
When the first newsletter was complete, it was approved by the ministry, the church communications office and the executive pastor of the church.
Everything was great!
For five months everything was smooth sailing with the newsletter.
For the February edition I asked a person who I had considered a friend to write an article on “love” connecting love in relationships to our Father in Heaven. As I did with every guest writer, I sent this person the writing guidelines from the church.
They sent the article back to me when it was complete, and it was great – except for one thing. The way the article was written went against the church guidelines. I asked my friend to revise the article based on the church guidelines.
This personal replied that I was mistaken by the church guidelines and therefore wasn’t going to revise the article.
Had I spent the past five months misinformed?
The church communications office did final edits on my newsletters, but they never told me I wasn’t following the writing guidelines.
I checked with the church communications office, and I personally emailed the executive pastor to clarify – and no I was not misinformed. I was right and I asked this person to revise the article.
The person again refused.
The newsletter had to be sent to the church communications office by Thursday morning in order to print in time for the ministry meeting on Friday.
Since this person had refused to revise the article, I made the changes myself and sent the newsletter to the church office. I replied to the person to let them know I changed the article. I admit I might not have been super kind in reply. In my defense I was simply doing what the church asked me to do. I wasn’t making my own suggestions to their article. I asked this person to update the article twice per the church guidelines. I had a deadline to get it completed!
In five months, I did not have one guest writer take issue with those instructions.
A Change is Coming
Well, to my complete surprise – this person was very upset that I took “their work and changed it myself” They would have preferred “I let them change it.” Furthermore, they did not agree with the church’s position on the writing style.
I was beyond confused.
That was a Friday morning in February and from that moment everything about my experience as a ministry leader at that church – changed.
Psalm 119:169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
The friend, who wrote that article was in a higher position, if you will, in church leadership. This person was also closer friends with the ministry leader of that particular ministry.
From that day everything I did – was criticized.
The newsletter that the ministry “loved” which had been approved by the church communications office and the executive pastor, suddenly, the ministry leaders no longer wanted my picture on the newsletter or my name on it. The reason I was given for this sudden change was vague at best.
Then, everything I wrote had to be overly reviewed by the other ministry leaders.
Me and the person had apologized for any miscommunications but the change in our relationship was never the same. My relationship with the other leaders changed.
I felt isolation.
I could not tell where it was really coming from. I did not know who I could trust.
Not one time did anyone come to me to talk about anything in a loving manner to help me if I had done something wrong. Not one time did any leader come to give me wisdom in areas where I needed growth.
For six-months I tried as hard as I could to endure what was happening. Our children really enjoyed that church. The pastor is one of the best theologians and best preachers you’ll ever hear preach. Besides this issue with that ministry, we had no issues with the church. However, I finally could no longer take the hurt and pain and isolation with the ministry leaders – so we eventually left the church.
I was in my mid-thirties. I had spent my entire life knowing nothing about Jesus Christ. I found His love, became a believer, joined a church, brought my kids to church, learned how to pray, attended Bible studies…I started attending Bible College. I started serving the church.
Our lives had changed!
We were living as sinners yet saved by the grace of God and had a brand-new life!
Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine one year after finding Jesus Christ and joining a church would I walk out of that church – in deep pain and in tears.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
How many times have you been told you don’t leave a church or situation because you’re hurt?
- Genesis 16:6 “Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly, Hagar finally ran away.”
- 1 Kings: 19 “Elijah flees from Jezebel.”
- 1: Samuel 21 “David runs from Saul.”
- 2: Samuel 15:13 “David flees to escape from his son Absalom.”
Apparently, these Bible characters didn’t get the human doctrine memo on how to deal with pain properly.
Instead, we are told to sit quietly and endure the pain. It’s not really happening. You’re listening to the lies of Satan. You won’t be blessed if you don’t forgive that person. You must get over this. You must stop talking about this. Don’t cry. Be strong. You’re becoming a problem now.
What do you do when your only recourse is to flee?
To be Continued…
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS