by Rachel G. Scott
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
One day as I pulled up to a friend's home, I checked my phone messages. A text appeared from another church friend. She and I had formed a sisterhood centered around our passion for writing, growing together in Christ, studying the Word, sharpening and praying for one another.
But that day, her words took the wind out of my sails.
“God told me we should not be friends anymore. You haven’t done anything wrong at all. You are amazing. I just need to step back. I won’t be responding to any more of your calls, texts, or messages from this moment. I love you and you haven’t done anything wrong. I promise. I’m sorry.”
I closed the message and headed in, trying to process what I had just read. When I walked into my friend's home, I collapsed on her couch and burst into tears.
The hardest part for me to process were the words “God told me.” It left no room for debate and connected my pain to a God who would allow it for some reason. A friendship that I had invested years into was suddenly over. Why would God tell her that and not warn me?
Knowing God’s nature is what kept me grounded through the hurt I felt. As I processed that wound from a sister in Christ, he pointed me back toward His love for me, and how he himself loves a church filled with people who hurt and disappoint him.
On the healing journey from my own church hurt, one thing God revealed to me was that my heart wound was from people, not a place.
It wasn’t a building which hurt me so it wouldn’t be a building that would bring restoration.
As long as I attributed my hurt to “the church” as an institution or mass group, I had every reason to abandon it without pursuing healing. However, just as a homeless person doesn’t choose homelessness because someone hurt them in a home, choosing to live churchless because someone hurt me in the church wouldn’t have cultivated healing or wholeness. When I chose to acknowledge that my hurt was in fact connected to an individual person—not an institution or group of “them”—I could begin the path of true healing.
Anytime I experienced hurt within the church, healing was assisted by someone else who was a part of the church, too. Jesus is the ultimate healer of our souls but much like a nurse to a doctor, He often uses people with His heart to help bandage our deep wounds.
Walking with the Lord as well as in fellowship with other believers isn’t always easy. I’ve learned to handle each situation individually so I can remain present-future focused rather than present-past.
I love how Jesus models a present-future perspective when He speaks to Peter and says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (see Matthew 16:18).
Jesus entrusted Peter with building the establishment that would house the heart of His people. Jesus knew that Peter would exalt him, but he also knew that Peter would betray him first, too.
Jesus himself was deeply hurt by the very first church member. From Adam to Peter to Judas to you and me, if there is anyone that understands hurt by people of the church, it’s Jesus. Yet just as he did not give up on Peter, He daily allows His Holy Spirit to dwell within this broken temple, too. He does not vacate the premises because of my sin but invites me into a deeper walk with Him.
Restoration OF the church will begin with restoration IN the church, which happens when we journey through the path of healing with God and people. For me, that began with taking the hurt from my church-friend to God and trust that his nature could still be revealed through his beloved but imperfect people, the church.
Rachel G. Scott is a writer, speaker, and the founder of the I Can’t Come Down Movement which inspires women to walk in their purpose and assignment with Focus. She is an Ohio Native, wife, and mother who has been featured nationally and internationally. Sign up for her weekly encouragement here, and connect online on Instagram and Facebook.