Two posts in one day...wowza!
It's just been weighing heavily on me to revise a statement in my last post. When speaking of my childhood church, I said "my church family judged me;" I should have said some of my church family judged me. Big difference. Some of them loved me just the same. Some of them still do. Some of them are friends to this day.
I don't blame the ones who quickly assumed the worst. Here's a quiet girl who's always kept the status quo and she's suddenly shaved off all her hair. They didn't know what to do with me. I get that. And truth be known, I was already starting to wander away emotionally, the hurt was just the catalyst that accelerated my full departure.
And I want it to be very clear that I love them still. Sure, there was a point when I wanted absolutely nothing to do with any church, but that's because I allowed Satan to get a foothold and then I started believing His lies. He's the master of deception and he has mastered the art of offering false condolences when we are hurting. He convinced me that the world was a safer place than the church.
The church may hurt us, it may have hurt you, but please know that no matter how enticing Satan may cause the world to appear, it can not help you. It will hurt you too. And it certainly will not heal you. Only God can do that. And we need the church. God implores us in His Word, "let us not give up meeting together" (Heb 10:25), because He knows we need encouragement, support, and even correction when we stray (Gal 6:1).
If I learned anything from that whole experience, it is that I have to forgive. I once heard that bitterness does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than the vessel on which it is poured. Absolutely! My bitterness towards the ones who assumed the worst did much more damage to me than it did to them. I chose to walk away from my church family, all of them, the ones who hurt me and the ones who were my friends. I labeled them all hypocrites and walked away. And I walked right into the arms of that horrible harlot I spoke about recently. There are not words to describe what kind of pain that caused me. Oh, yes, I lost much more than they did.
But know too that God is a God of full redemption. I am utterly amazed when I remember what He's done for me. Not only did He restore me to the full joy of His salvation, but He restored relationships. I do not hate, I do not even dislike the ones who chose gossip. I can tell you with complete honestly that I have forgiven them and love them. That, I can assure you, is only because of my Very Big God.
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you." (Ps 51:12, NLT)