Let’s not even try to pretend it’s easy. Or that we should simply press through, or shake it off, or “let it slide.” Perhaps, if we can just allow ourselves to set aside those silly notions, we can get to the other side in one piece. Because being hurt hurts. Plain and simple.
Here’s the thing: there are no perfect people. Not even in community.
We — the imperfect — worship together, and we serve together. We share recipes and grocery shopping tips. We help each other move and we pick up each others’ children from school. We share our dreams and we confess our failures. We bake and deliver casseroles, and we wait and pray with each other in hospital emergency rooms.
It is a beautiful thing.
Until it isn’t.
A few years ago, I got my heart broken, right in the middle of community. I don’t think there are many hurts worse than the ones we receive in community, and I don’t wish it on you. I don’t wish it on anyone. Most of the time, these hurts catch us completely off guard. I think it would be a beautiful thing if no one ever had to know a hurt like that. After all, community is all about love. Right?
Even when we’re at our best, hurting one another is inevitable. Because we’re not perfect. And here’s the subtle danger in being hurt: letting my hurt feelings keep me from ever living in community again. I can build a wall around myself and keep you at arm’s length and I can do life on my own, thank you very much.
But then, what I am supposed to do with this . . .
You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3:18, emphasis mine)
This is more than building a wall, pressing through, shaking it off, or letting it slide. No, those are the easy options. The hard work is staying engaged, admitting where it hurts, offering the gift of a sincere apology when necessary, and — when we’re ready — offering forgiveness.
It’s true that sometimes things get more than simply messy, and then it may be time to step away. But when we’re just bumping up against each other in the day-to-day of life together, accepting the challenge to stay is often the greatest gift we can offer one another.
Yeah. Let’s not even try to pretend it’s easy. Community isn’t always easy.
But it’s worth it. Community is definitely worth it.
By Deidra Riggs, from the (in)courage archivesLeave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Perhaps even harder than being hurt, yourself, in community is to see your child hurt in the church community and to watch them walk out the door and vow to never come back again. It’s really hard, as a mother, to stay within that community when you see what happened to your child. Like you said, people are human (even and especially within the church). They do and say things that are not grace and mercy filled. They can get up on their high horses and spout pious words even though, they themselves, are sinners. Yes, to stay is often the very hardest and gutsiest thing we can do.
As I saw, with my son, an answer to my fervent prayers and the prayers of my sisters here at (in)courage, God will continue to woo His children back to community with others. It has been others, within the same church that sent him out the door, that have kept after him to come back in the door. My son is far from being fully “in” because he was so badly hurt, but I see how community can hurt, but they can also heal. Watching this play out over a LOOOOONNNNG time has reminded me that our God is truly able and He can use community to heal broken hearts. Wonderful and thought provoking post! ps. Thank you to my prayer warriors (you know who you are…keep praying) xoxo
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
ps. Speaking of community, may I ask for your prayers, my sisters? Tomorrow I am having a complex surgery on my foot to try to correct a surgery from 3 years ago that was not successful and left me with residual and continuous nerve pain in my foot. Naturally I am more anxious about this surgery (it’s also my 4th surgery in 5 years). So prayers for peace and comfort for my heart as well as success and healing for my foot would be greatly appreciated. So thankful for the love of all the women I’ve found here…. Bev
LisaAnn Berryhill says
Praying now Bev!
Robyn Dykstra says
What a pleasure to pray for you after reading all your comments to blog posts and especially the one today about community.
I pray in the Name of our Jesus, that peace would rule in you. That your surgery would be textbook in execution and successful in solving the issues causing pain and discomfort. That the doctor would be astonished by the skill he has today as Jesus guides his hand. I pray for a full and complete victory over pain, for a full and speedy recovery. Amen.
Michele Morin says
Your name is on my planner for tomorrow!
Kim K says
Praying that you will have peace today, that the surgeons will have wisdom and great skill tomorrow, and that you will have a speedy, full healing after. Hugs!
Praying with you Bev. Our God heals.
Bev, praying for God to relieve your foot pain, and to protect you during your surgery. May God provide his perfect peace that surpasses all understanding as you heal from your surgery.
I pray that all goes well with your surgery, and that you will soon be back on your feet again, pain free.
Thinking of you
All the best,
Beth Williams says
Praying for you as always! May God provide peace & contentment to your soul. I ask in Jesus name that the pain be taken away & your foot completely healed! Glad to hear your son is slowly coming back to church & you!!
(((((Hugs from Upper E. TN-on the border of NC)))))
Mary Hood says
Praying with you and for you.
Praying, friend. xoxo
Joanne Peterson says
Praying for you Bev!
PRAYERS! Sounds like my dad’s track record of surgeries! And the possibility of another one coming up! I feel you and will pray! Keep clinging to Christ and keep hanging in there!GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME.
Corena Hall says
I experienced this as a adult and my child did both in ” Christian” school and church. Standards in leadership was operating in and still operates in the carnal realm not the spiritual one. People in those communities then operate in those same standards and will not accept truth. I get it. What I know now is as my child does too only in His grace that sometimes you do have to get away from toxic. Because He leads you away but you forgive and try again. You remain a transparent authentic Christian because it’s the way Jesus walked. My God restored my child to Him and in the end that is the answer to this mama’s prayer.
I get this. Community is wonderful until that big hurt. Then you dont want to be hurt like that again and wonder if you ever want to let anyone in so close again. In time you do because we’ll because that is what you long for.
Marilyn - Houston says
Deidre, thanks for this beautiful post. Right before reading it I had prayed and repented to God for my own sins and failings in community, which usually involve not talking problems out with the people I should but instead choosing to talk to others, distancing myself, or leaving and finding a new community, which doesn’t solve anything. In community, we should work things out according to how the scriptures instruct us.
Bev, I’m praying for your surgery.
Michele Morin says
I admit to being very lazy about relationships — when they’re challenging, it’s tempting to just disengage and do something easier. I really appreciate your call to do the hard and messy business of keeping an open heart, for this is the one of the reasons Jesus took the risk of becoming one of us.
I am praying for you Bev. I enjoy your posts so much. Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for these words. My own immediate hurts have been ongoing, as is with living in a sinful world. However, it gives me a desire to be with Jesus in Heaven more than here oaths earth, but in that I know that some may not be saved yet and need that time and that realization. It is when those hurts come from a Pastor, or both sets of professing parents (as in our case) that the confusion sets in and the wonder of it all. Why us? Why do we have to take another stand against someone and Stand while everyone else walks away from us or by going with them, cheers them on in this? Such deep hurts. Such sorrow and disappointment. Such grace to forgive, to move on and to not let Satan use this button again and again, because in the end-when it is all said and done, Jesus has already WON!! Praise the Lord!! He is Victorious over sin and death and hurt. As you, fellow sisters, read this today, rest in the arms of Jesus-Who never changes and never hurts us. He is there-for Real! Praying for you Bev! God grant you the Peace and Comfort and full Healing.
I have not experiemced the negative experiemce of a pastor betrayal or wounding but my best friends hisband is a worship pastor and much upheaval in their church years ago caused much strife.
I got exposure to a very beautiful minustry that is based upon restoration. After this morning and your note, I got my email from them that deals with restoration in that regard.
Maybe some of it may be belpful for the different layers of leadership trauma – church and parental – you have experienced.
Blessings to you and anyone reading that the Spirit may be leading to.this ministry.
I extended the url above.
Thank you for that Janine. I will look into it! God bless your life!
Hi all…I am new to this community and am encouraged to have a taste-test daily of honest women who love Christ but don’t need to play “pretend Christianity”…as I was reading the posts, I am enchanted by the courage to pursue love and to not let the loss of love or experiwmce of a hurt heart lead us away from community.
I thought of Christ and how loving and gentle and gracious he models and modelled it for us with His own disciples…His community that ALL abandoned Him because of the fragility of their humanity – whether it is/was indifference, fear, anger, confusion,despair, jealousy, chaos…Christ experienced the deepest rejection from community of friends he shared daily lifenwith – less than a day after He lovingly washed feet and shared a feast with those He loved.
Still, all His post-resurrection actions demonstrate that He is a God that reaches out and never stops doing community. His “peace be with you” is an astonishing reminder to me…to keep reaching out toward others in love and forgiveness (while asking for His Lavish Grace to do it genuinely, not begrudgingly)…such a sincere, gentle God who was hurt, rejected, shame, bewildered and on and on…yet Jesus still never let locked doors, hearts or walls keep Him from entering and with His Sweet smile and gentle countenance saying: Peace, be with you.
I pray for all those women and men hurt in community – that God will give US ALL the courage and resolute awareness to walk gently back into community – family and church community…I pray He will give tremendous Healing Peace in all those difficult processes.
Many blessings…and “peace be with You”
As I send this, I can sense an awareness of blessed Peace in giving me a genyle nudge of heart conviction to keep trusting Him as I walk broken pathways in my own family and community…embracing and extending the Living Peace He gives me.
God’s Spirit goes with us beckoning: “Peace, be still…and know I am God.” Whenever we walk the path of Peace, God leads & holds us in enveloping Peace. I am sure. He models it for us in every interaction and says: “follow me”.
Blessings for Peace in abundant Radiance…and a JOY exchange that springs forth from those courageous interactions.
Beth Williams says
Welcome to In Courage. We want to shower you with Christ’s love and blessings. So sorry about the family and community hurts you’re dealing with. May He heal your weary soul and bring peace to all involved.
Hi Beth…sending an E-HUG back to you.
“encouragement” HUG returned.
Thanks for kind, warm embrace by fingers typing. A warm welcome is so appreciated. Blessings Beth.
I think we live in a culture of disposable relationships, where we too often walk away from a relationship/community when it gets hard. I certainly understand the flight response as a way to self-protect. However, when we work through the hard things in relationships, I think we end up with deeper connection in the end.
Wow…thank yo so much for this today. These words hit home for me. I identify very closely with this statement, “And here’s the subtle danger in being hurt: letting my hurt feelings keep me from ever living in community again. I can build a wall around myself and keep you at arm’s length and I can do life on my own, thank you very much.” This is me, and as a result I have very few friends because I choose to be by myself instead of doing the hard work.
Melissa Henderson says
Thank you for this message. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Life is fragile. It is hard at times. Christ made us to be in community with each other. He doesn’t want us to be islands living alone-but out there caring for others. The old adage “stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt” is a lie. Words hurt-some deeply. We need to extend forgiveness and get back into community. It may take time, but your heart will heal. Don’t judge people on how they act. They may have been hurt themselves and can’t get past that.
Thank-you for sharing your thoughtful words with us this morning.They’re like an extra boost, As hard as it can be to be rejected, if we all kept our backs turned, who then will make the first step?
Have a blessed day all,
Andrea McCaskey says
Thanks! The line about building walls gave me fresh insight on something I struggle with. God is always so timely!
So worth it indeed, Deidra. Something that’s often easy to forget when emotions rise is that — it’s not easy being *out* of community either. It’s not like we’re trading one challenging thing for another easy thing. Being alone and longing for community is much harder than staying and loving through the challenges of true community. The courage to stay is more than worth the temporary emotional cost. (Plus, there’s the bonus of growth.) : )
Joanne Peterson says
I’ve read and I know this to be true, “When we are hurt in relationship, it is in relationship we are healed.” I’ve been very deeply wounded in community, and it is in the community where I’ve also been loved, accepted, and nurtured. I must preface this though, it was not in a group, but in single relationships, which is still in community. It’s hard and can be very excruciating to be willing to trust again after being so wounded. It was and is still a journey to be willing to trust and risk. I have to ask myself the question, “Am I being loving, nurturing, accepting, and willing to look through the lens of someone else’s eyes to understand?” Am I willing to make true amends? I haven’t always. I have let people go when I’ve been unwilling to talk things through, I’ve also let people go when it wouldn’t work, it continually was hurting me and my family. We can forgive, but don’t always have to let those we don’t trust back in. It’s work, and not easy.
Bev – praying for God’s healing power, already won through Christ’s blood on the cross, to be yours today, tomorrow, and beyond. By His stripes we ARE healed. Whether while on this earth or beyond with Him, we have His promise of healing. And on the timeline of eternity, this earth time is less than a dot on the point of a pin.;)
Community is an ever-changing season, giving forth opportunity for self-sacrifice that others may see Him.
My personal feelings are not as important as the eternal walk of another with Christ.
Am I willing to sacrifice my ‘self’ so that another may experience God’s forgiveness.
Who am I that my ‘feelings’ will matter in the light of eternity, they do not/will not change God’s promises.
So, I will lay my feelings upon the altar, sacrificed, that God’s will may be done in another’s life.
That His love and forgiveness may be experienced by another, whether they are ‘deserving’ or not.
Because, I too, am simply an imperfect sinner, that God loved where I was/am, saved by His grace, and loved by Him unconditionally.
This really hits home. My mother was hurt by the church over 20 years ago, and has only been to visit a few times with me since then. I am 28. However, my father has been heavily involved in church for 40 years. This clearly has caused problems in their marriage. I am asking for prayers for the restoration of my parents’ marriage, and that my mother would return to a fellowship. Thank you ahead of time. 🙂
Rebecca L Jones says
The only way to “shake off “, to ” let slide ” or to completely let go of these is in Jesus, that He is our righteousness. And Bev, I had a broken ankle once, what should have taken 6 wks to heal , healed in 2. The doctor was amazed. I pray God amazes you and the doctor tomorrow. Peace and healing to all who need prayer.
This is beautiful the way God brings words right when we need them! I was so blessed! My husband and I received some very deep hurts by our pastors. They really wanted to help but didn’t understand our while situation. We still attend that church and I’m finding relationships again. Please pray for my husband and pastors that restoration would come and especially spiritual restoration for my hubs. And thanks again for this devo! I’m living proof of the blessing of doing the hard work instead of running away. Not easy at all but the peace of Jesus passes all understanding!
Praying shalom for you! You are in His great care.