Deeply Wounded by a Church

by | March 2024 | Encouragement

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Deeply Wounded by a Church

About 7 years ago, I was deeply wounded by a church. 

I know I am not alone in this. Many people, many Christians have been wounded by a church or a member of a church. An unfortunate pattern has emerged in these modern times, and it is one I almost followed as well. 

We get wounded and we leave. 

We leave behind the member(s) that hurt us, we leave behind the building, we leave behind the body, and often we leave behind Christ. I have heard this story again and again from friends and acquaintances. It almost became my story as well. The wound was so deep that I am still filled with grief and anger (often a combination of right anger and sinful anger) whenever I think about it—and this is with lots of therapy under my belt in relation to what happened, as well as having found forgiveness and understanding in my heart after years of seeking Jesus in my healing. 

I almost left the Church.

I need to insert here that I have left that specific church and I am NOT advocating to stay in any situation where you are actively getting hurt, or have experienced deep hurt that negatively impacts your life, wellness, or spiritual health.

I left that church, but I almost left the Church.

In reflection, outside of God’s mercy, there are really only two reasons I did not walk away from Christian community. The first is my parents and the second is my therapist. Both my parents and my therapist supported me, vehemently opposing what happened to me. Both convinced me that I was not crazy for the pain I was in or for needing to leave the situation. Both helped me know how truly wrong and painful everything that happened was on the part of the church. However, both also told me the same message: “The Church is not perfect and it never will be, but God is perfect and He always will be. And God desires you to be a part of the Church, living in Christian community in order to live out and experience the fullness of the gospel.” 

I tried to deny this truth for a while, because I had so many other voices telling me to put it all behind me, and that appealed to me in my deep state of pain. But I didn’t succumb to this very modern solution and now nearly 7 years later I rejoice in the beautiful community I have since found.

We will never find a perfect church. There will be hurt that happens within church walls. Churches are full of broken and sinful people, but that does not make God’s design for Christian community and corporate worship a broken one. If I had walked away, my faith would not have been able to flourish like it has the last eight years. The Church is an integral part of growing closer to Jesus. So many people are taking the easy way out and leaving the Church and Christ behind them over hurts that range from small to large. But leaving is not the answer. 

I want to encourage those of you who have or are experiencing hurt within a church, and I want to encourage parents and grandparents. 

To those thinking of leaving the larger Church, don’t. If you need to walk away from a church due to deep wounding, do, but do not discount the Church as a whole. Rather, find a new body where you can grow closer to God and make lasting connections.

To parents and grandparents, be wise voices in your kids’ ears—teach them the Church is broken but it is beautiful. Encourage them to seek out and stick with a Jesus-loving community. If my parents had not imparted this wisdom to me, I probably would have walked away and I would not be the person or daughter of Christ that I am today. If you have taught your children this truth and they have still left the Church, keep praying for them to return. Trust the Lord will work in His time. 

This way of leaving the Church does not come from the Lord. It comes from Satan because he knows a way to break a person’s faith is to isolate them and keep them from thriving in a bolstering community. We must rewrite this modern story, we must keep with the Church, and instead of walking away when it gets hard or when something is wrong in a church, we must stay and fight and do the hard work; we must repent and forgive; we must help make it a better place, a healthier place. 

Most of all we must keep Jesus at the center of the church and worship him together. This will bring a flourishing to the lives and faith of everyone involved.

Below are words I penned from different stages of feelings I had after the deep wounding. It is raw and vulnerable. But it is an important message and shows the excruciating journey that healing is. Healing is often not linear, and it is not quick; after 7 years I finally feel I am at a point where I can begin to share in hopes of encouraging others who have faced similar woundings and/or decisions regarding the Church and faith.

An open letter to the church who failed me: 

I’ve had to learn that God is good despite you, not because of the body.
I lost everyone, my friends, my community, my church family. But I didn’t lose Jesus; he is still here for me. 
I lost my dignity and my virginity in the most brutal of ways but I didn’t lose my salvation or grace; that’s proven history. 
I was made to feel ashamed, disgusting, unworthy. But my Jesus told me I was clean, free, beautiful, worthy.
I was ridiculed, shamed, punished, hurt: physically, emotionally and spiritually. But so was my Savior during his salvation journey.
I was pushed out for false accusations against me. I left and it almost was permanently.
The church is not the authority. It is not God, it lives not perfectly.
And yet God calls us to be a part of it fully. 
To grow in it vulnerably, to pour into it intimately.
By His mercy I was drawn back in; to a place that followed him more closely and more authentically, to a place more healthy.
And yet I do not trust fully. I keep the church at arm's length waiting anxiously.
I'm reminded of what happened daily, the scars that still crush me.
But Christ’s wounds are deeper and they heal me.
So I will keep going, keep trying continually.
Not at the place that about killed me, not with the people who destroyed me.
But exactly where God has me. 
To the church who failed me: I forgive you extensively. 
You almost did me in, but God is full of mercy. 
You ripped my heart out, but God restored me. 
I’m not the same. I am trying to grow more beautifully and to let myself fall into community. 
But for now, each time I walk in to pray instead of just hitting play, I feel Jesus cheer for me. 
I will keep searching, keep reaching, keep healing because God is for me even though you were against me. 
God perfects me even when you had broken me. 
I thought I had found my place in you, but God reminded me; I belong to Him exclusively.

The Church is not perfect and it never will be, but God is perfect and He always will be. And God desires you to be a part of the Church, living in Christian community in order to live out and experience the fullness of the gospel.

We must stop leaving the Church.