The phone rang. I checked the caller ID and didn’t recognize the name, but answered.
What followed was a long conversation with a woman who really had just called seeking a favor, but who was offended (justifiably or not) by people at a church she attended some twenty years ago. She’s never darkened the doors of a church since.
Sadly, I can’t say that scenario is an unfamiliar one.
I listened. And I prayed.
I prayed that I’d speak gracious, wise words into her heart.
You see, this morning, in my time with the Lord, I was reminded that He knows every single detail of our day before it even begins… that I needed to trust Him with every moment, look for ways He’s working, and be used by Him.
I realized this was a divine appointment.
But how to speak wisdom and grace into this woman’s life who was so obviously hurt and embittered toward God’s people? Maybe if I had time to prepare… but no, this was a “right now” moment.
You see, I heard her side. Friends that I have loved so deeply are in similar scenarios, even now. But it’s not just that I heard her or have friends who are there too. I, myself, have been tempted to take that own route before.
People hurt people. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life. We’re humans, and intentionally or not, we hurt and get hurt by other people. It’s not a fun thing to talk about. It’s not a pretty picture. In fact, it’s a dark, deep, lonely place.
But therein lies the danger – it is in that soil of loneliness and hurt that bitterness is planted, and if not weeded out, will grow – taking hold of every last bit of joyful life you have. Everything will be tainted. You won’t experience joy when you’re in this place.
You feel justified. You can recount (in detail) all the ways in which you were hurt and why they were wrong for what they did. It may have been a misunderstanding, or it may have been outright meanness that caused this to happen. Either way, if you choose to let it continue to control your thinking, it will control your emotions, actions, habits, and ultimately, your life.
I bet this woman never imagined twenty-one years ago that she’d be out of church, away from the fellowship, love, and encouragement of community in Christ. She was active in church. She took part in ministries. She even brought her young children to midweek Bible study every single week.
I recall a critical moment in my life one Sunday night when I sat cross legged on my bed in my flea ridden apartment. I hadn’t gone to church in several weeks. And it wasn’t because I was sick or out of town. It was because I couldn’t bring myself to go. I was tired of going through the motions. And I was hurt – deeply. By people I loved. I felt disillusioned with this whole Christianity thing. Maybe it was all in vain.
Tears poured down my face. My body shook as I sobbed.
Who could I turn to?
I was alone. I was hurt. I was sad.
So, I turned to the One that most people turn to when they are at the very end of their rope. And I just cried. I told Him how I felt – how hurt I was, and I really had started to doubt that even He cared.
He whispered back to my heart that I had become caught up in people, in religion, in works rather than in Him… that there’s no such thing as perfect people, but I could find refuge in a perfect God.
For the first time in a long time, I felt hope. All I knew was that Jesus loved me, I had a personal walk with Him, and if I’d trust Him and take each step He led me to take, I’d be ok. Everything might not have been ok at that moment in time, but if I’d just let Him hold my hand and lead me step by step, I’d be ok.
And that’s when my whole life started to change.
You see, for such a long time I was caught up in being the good girl. But when the good girl in me ran out, I realized that I’d missing the point my whole life. Christianity isn’t about being good, it’s about relationship with the One who knew all of my good would never be enough. It’s all about Jesus, and my oh-so-personal walk with Him.
I’m not sure why God laid it on my heart to write this post, but I want to encourage you that if you’ve been hurt by someone, don’t let it take over your life. The only one who ends up miserable is you. Those other people aren’t bothered in the least. Go to Jesus who loves you so, and let those hurts go at His feet. If all you can do is weep about it, then do that. He understands tears. Let Him pick up the broken pieces and make your life something beautiful.