I thought it would be helpful before I go to the next portion of this story to tell you why I am writing. I would hate for you to misunderstand my intent and lose the message I am trying to convey.
In the church today something very catastrophic keeps occurring. People are walking away.
Walking away from their faith.
Walking away from Jesus.
And those who are left in the church feel this need to protect the reasons people are walking away. It is as if we believe telling the truth will result in less people finding Jesus.
So, things remain hidden.
Things are covered up.
Or we just simply ignore the problems that occur for the sake of trying to save another soul.
And it is killing us. It is killing the church. It’s killing the good name of Jesus Christ.
Which brings me back full circle to my why. I have every reason on the planet to NOT believe in Jesus. The amount of hurt and rejection I have experienced at the hands of those who are leaders in the church is great. Cataclysmic really.
Yet, here I am telling you Jesus had nothing to do with any of it. I need you to know that I did not come at that conclusion easily. It took long nights of tears to get me here. Far longer than I would like to attest to.
And it is important that you know my story because I need you to have hope. I want those people who have been hurt by the church to see that Jesus NEVER EVER approved of it.
And He never will. And the silence of these stories leaves us feeling all alone on that “church hurt” island.
So, let’s hop off the island and start telling our stories.
One thing you need to know about me is I have a very keen sense of when something is off. Call it discernment – call it whatever you want. Personally, I just think my ability to sift through BS is high.
So, when Jane gave me the explanation that her best friend was going to be speaking at the retreat in my place something felt off.
AND listen, when something is off I usually have a very hard time not sniffing out the truth. Sometimes I wish that I could live in ignorance but I am just not wired that way.
I ended up sending Jane an email a few days after our coffee shop incident. While I do not remember all the details of that email – I know I asked for a better explanation than what I was given. I needed to know if I had done something. That way I could correct whatever it was and be able to move forward from it.
Jane replied and let me know that her best friend, Sarah (obviously not her real name), was going through a very hard time. That Sarah needed to speak at the retreat to help her gain confidence back. And then she concluded with this, “I am the coach and you are the player. You will do and participate in whatever position I put you in.”
At this point in the story I want you to know I WISH I had let this go but I did not.
What I ended up discovering is that Sarah had been caught up in some sin from a past church. Sin I know she was intensely ashamed of and wished she had not done. You could see it all over her. My heart broke for her. We all make decisions that sometimes we ultimately regret. I know Sarah regretted this one.
BUT instead of Jane seeing the need for her friend to sit and heal. She elevated her. She placed her on a pedestal. Perhaps, Jane thought she was helping Sarah heal. But based on Jane’s comment about coaching I suspected this was not the case. I suspected that Jane suffered from a case of…
Leading up to this point there was some buzz around church about my abilities as a speaker. Several women asked Jane to have me speak more regularly during our weekly meetings. This changed something in Jane.
Instead of recognizing that my giftings did not diminish hers – she feared them. Jealousy seemed to take over.
I thought a lot about David and Saul during this time. How Saul could never quite see that David was an asset. Instead Saul feared David. Feared that David would outshine him. Saul feared losing his position as King. (for more on this read 1 Samuel)
I never wanted to replace Jane. I just wanted to be taught and trained by her. But she never really understood this.
So, I quit. I quit the women’s ministry team and ended up not going to another event until many years later.
And instead of fully walking away, I kept begging Jane to give me another chance. I wanted to be back on the team because I saw no other way to use my giftings.
This was wrong. I should have just let well enough alone. Jane was not God nor did she get to decide how or where God would use me.
I put too much hope in Jane when I should have been putting my hope in Jesus.
What was even harder is that Jane acted like her and I were on good terms. Nothing was ever a problem and that she would give me another chance. Jane never did.
In fact, when it became readily apparent that I was not going to be given a second chance I made several attempts to hold a Bible study on my own. This was always met with hostility.
Jane would catch wind of me trying to have a bible study at my home and I would get emails stating, “you are not allowed to have any women from our church attend.”
“This was not approved by me.”
My family ultimately ended up leaving this church. The longer I stayed the longer my confidence diminished.
And I want you to know this was not Jane’s fault. This was mine. I gave her my confidence. I defined myself by whether see saw my value and included me on the team. I put a weight on Jane’s shoulders that she was never meant to carry.
I see perhaps this is also why people leave churches. They place value in people and not in Jesus. They allow the short comings of those around them define them and then, they walk away. They have a flawed image of the church: that it is filled with perfect people.
And frankly, the church in many ways promotes this message.
Maybe not directly. BUT every time we fail to share in our struggles, fears, or failures we give the world the message that it is perfect.
The jig is up, church THEY KNOW WE ARE NOT.
And the truth is the church is just people. And we do a disservice when we hide those things that have hurt us. The sooner we get on board with owning our failure with sharing our story the sooner the world will see it needs the church.
So, here is to owning our story. Sharing our story. And making the church a safe place to do both.