Before we move on in this story, I would like to take a moment to remind you that life is messy. People are messy. Sometimes a person’s mess gets all over us and makes our life messy. It just happens.
None of us are immune to this. People will eventually fail and hurt us. They will let us down. They will make the wrong decision.
And at some point, you will be that person too. You will hurt someone. You will be the person in their story.
I know I have been. I can think of several people who could write a story about me where the hurt was great and the actions were messy.
THIS, my friends, is where grace comes in. Where the messy collides with grace rendering us all changed for the better.
Isn’t that what grace is for? The mess. We will never need grace when we get it all right. Grace only matters in the failure, the hurt and the broken.
And this why these stories matter because grace says – here is my story. Here is my mess. AND yet I forgive. And yet I do not hold this against them. I do not burn with anger or wish them ill.
So, please whatever you do don’t read my story without the lens of grace. It is needed here just like it is needed for your story.
Today, I want to shift gears a bit from Mark back to Jane and Sarah.
I need you to know that I was not totally unaware of some of the issues within women’s ministry. Like I have shared in previous posts I can usually discern when things are off.
So, when I caught wind of a “healing” ministry they were spearheading I was cautious. It sounded intriguing yet, there was something in my Spirit that was saying be careful.
I want you to know I ignored this. COMPLETELY!
I forged ahead and asked Sarah if she would take me through the class. I was so desperate for healing during this time. So much had happened with our old church that I wanted to shift through it. Get to the bottom of it and just heal.
THIS is also a HUGE part of who I am – I need to shift through a problem. Identify how and why we got there and learn from it.
This was my hope for the class – to learn and grow.
The class was a weekly course that covered various topics like pride or anger. There was a workbook associated with the class that you did prior to meeting together.
The first week of the course was on the topic of pride.
In the workbook there was a list of statements that describe prideful behavior. I went meticulously through this list. I checked a few of the boxes but the statements in general did not seem to apply to me.
When I sat down with Sarah to go over my list, I shared with her that I did not feel like pride was something I struggled with most of the time. I knew as the weeks went on topics would be relevant to my struggles – like fear. I KNEW I had fear issues. (still do really) But pride did not seem to be a big issue in my life.
As I shared this with Sarah, she replied with something that startled me. She said the first sign of a pride issue is denying you have pride.
I cannot tell you the exact details of what I said to her, but I left that meeting feeling like I had an issue I did not understand, nor did I know how to fix.
Was I prideful?
Did I not see this about myself?
How was Sarah able to discern something I did not?
It all felt very confusing.
I want you to know that NOTHING about this situation felt wrong at the time. NOT a single thing.
I went away believing that I struggled with pride.
I remember for months praying that God would take away my pride issues. Looking back, I see that God did answer my prayer but not in the way I had thought He would.
He did not remove pride. Instead He showed me that THIS was not a struggle for me.
Now I am not saying that I have never had a prideful moment in my life – we all do! BUT that is not what this class was for – moments. It was centered around habitual things in our lives that we needed to uproot and sort through.
After I took the course, I began to catch wind of how other classes were handled. Of the things that women had experienced in this course. Some women were told similar things – that they struggled with things they did not understand. Other women were HAND picked out of the church community to go through the course.
I also feel like I need to pause a moment and say – THIS is not gossip. For women to come forward and say this was not handled well is not gossip. That is why these things perpetuate because people are too afraid to say anything. So, more women get hurt and sometimes even walk away from the church all together. We need to be better about using our voices that bring change for the better.
There was also a portion of the course where the women were instructed to write letters to people who had hurt them. Read them out loud to the class and then, burn them. I need you to know that SOMETIMES this is helpful. Sometimes we need to write things down and get it out BUT this should never ever replace talking things through with the person who hurt us.
I understand that there are times when you cannot do that – it is not safe or helpful. BUT most of the time it is and when we write letters instead of seeking restoration, we ultimately end up with fractured relationships that DO not get repaired. They just stay that way because we are afraid to have hard conversations.
Letters should never replace hard conversations if possible.
I want you to know as well intentioned as this healing class was it seemed it was doing the very opposite of what it had set out to do. We need to understand that as a Christian our job is to love others. Period. And we cannot love them well when we are trying to repair them.
Plus, it is not our job to repair them. Never has been. Never will be. And really the only way to repair is to love.
I share all this with you today because I think it is a reminder for all of us to meet people where they are. Love them well. And leave the rest up to God. He is FAR more powerful than we ever will be.
Also, I want you to be wise to these things. If someone speaks something over you that just simply does not align with who you know yourself to be (or what you know yourself to struggle with) take it to God. Pray through it. Let HIM show you the truth.
Go with God – He is gentle and kind. He will heal and restore.