Church Hurts Interlude – In His Words

Introducing My Husband

Throughout these blog posts on church hurts, I have described how much my husband and I were affected by what happened.  While John and I have been in regular communication regarding the content I’ve written and while I have communicated certain thoughts and feelings on his behalf, I thought it was time for him to have his own voice in this series.

But first, allow me to introduce him to you.  Let me share with you what I see.

I see his eyes – bright blue windows that light up the world when he is happy and take on the weight of it when he is not.  Tears are welcome in these eyes and reveal themselves as an outpouring of his heart.  His are steady eyes, not easily given to intimidation or manipulation.  I can always tell when he is processing and analyzing information because those eyes will move around, following the progress of unseen puzzle pieces that are being connected in some other realm.

I see his mouth – easily given to smiles and laughter and yet firm and resolved when circumstances demand greater sobriety.

I see his mind – always active, always processing.  It is a mind of many interests – music, dancing, painting, reading, learning, teaching, being in nature, gardening, computing, managing, planning… the list goes on.  His mind is a steady and open-ended one.  It is resolved in what it knows and yet open to being shown other-wise.  It sees and values the skills and abilities of others and does not attempt or pretend to be the expert in all things.

I see his heart – large and full, yearning to be poured out onto others and longing to be reciprocated.  It is a heart that feels the pain and fear of those around him and aches to remove those burdens – to protect the subjects and carry their pain.  This heart craves community and feels every prick of rejection.  And still it loves.  Still it feels and offers itself wholeheartedly, without reservation, to the Creator – the Author of Life who holds it in His hands.         

Series Progression

Welcome to the Interlude of this five-part blog series on church hurts.  As an idea of what was covered in the first four weeks and what you can expect next week, here is a rundown of the topics:

Church Hurts Part 1 – Our Story

Church Hurts Part 2 – Searching for Answers

Church Hurts Part 3 – Looking Back: Red Flags and God’s Goodness

Church Hurts Part 4 – Lessons Learned

Church Hurts Interlude – In His Words

Church Hurts Part 5 – Moving Forward

Introducing the Norbertine Center

Located in the southern part of Albuquerque, NM, the Norbertine Center is a Norbertine Abbey whose primary mission is “the witnessing to the reality and power of a Christian faith community by living a simple, communal life according to the Rule of Augustine and the ancient traditions of the Order of Prémontré.”

This abbey is open to anyone of any faith and is one of the most peaceful places we know.

Besides the living quarters and the small hermitages that are booked out for visitors’ use, there are three small buildings on the premises: one with a cafeteria and conference rooms, a library, and a chapel. 

The chapel is where John and I tend to spend most of our time.  Here we are able to think, pray, listen, and write without distraction.  We generally start in the lobby, gradually make our way to the sanctuary, and then end in the prayer room at the back. 

If you need a quiet place to think, pray, process, and connect to God, this Norbertine Center is one we highly recommend.

And on that note: here are John’s words that he wrote last weekend while he was at the Norbertine Center.

In John’s Words

I’m at the Norbertine Center once more.  Normally I stop in the lobby area and sit and listen for a while, but I feel drawn into the sanctuary first – drawn to stare at the crucified Christ on the pole at the center of the sanctuary.  He came and suffered so much.  How painful was it to see His people behaving as they were?  How much did they hate and reject Him more so than even the world, and the world hated Him enough as it was.  I think I feel so much like Jesus, hated and rejected – hated by my former church and Pastor.  Hated and rejected by those who should love me, just like Christ was.

Yet, like Christ, what can I do?  Reject God and embrace the world?  No!  I can only do what God the Father asks me to do. 

But what is that?  So much like Christ I find myself wanting to say, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”

Yet I know He has not abandoned me; He is with me, protecting me.  My hope lies not in the cross, but in the resurrection.  The story is not the suffering Christ; it’s not the cross or the blood; it’s the resurrection.  Christ suffered, yes, just as I suffer.  Christ was in anguish and cried out, yes, just as I do.  Christ felt abandoned by God, yes, just as I do, even though I know I am not.  But despite the rejection, the pain, the sorrow, He did as the Father asked, and for it, He rose to eternal glory.

My resurrection is coming, if I but hold true to who He is and do as He would have me do.

But what would He have me do?

Manager at work – my dream for myself – my logical next step.  If I manage, I don’t have to leave.  I don’t have to let go of the pension.  I don’t have to let go of the security of good money and good health care and a safe, secure job.  Let’s face it, my job in many ways is a worldly dream. 

Management at my current job is the logical next step, the salary much better, the pension even sweeter, and yet I sense He has other plans – plans to take us into a promised land of milk and honey and resurrection. A land of new hope and promise.  Yet he who looks back is not fit for the plow.  I can’t look back longingly at the Church, at the Pastor, at the hurt, at the pain, at the rejection.  I must look forward at His upward call in His son’s resurrection!

Letting go is so hard and without His strength, I do not see how it is possible.  Each one of those looking back at ___ is a parcel in my backpack, a pot hanging off my yoke.  The burden is heavy and its breaking my back, destroying my heart.  It is a heavy, heavy burden I can no longer bear, I am too thin, too worn out.  How Lord, how do I let it go, for I must so I can be of use to You.

It’s hard to say goodbye, whether to a good friend, a dear loved one, an abuser, or a prison camp.  It’s hard to say goodbye.  But how can it be that whether a faithful friend or an abusive pastor that both can be equally, if not the abusive one, harder to let go of?

I believe because God designed us for relationship.  He designed us to long for and interact with Him and with His creation and with each other.  Wherever we are we relate to that which is around us and it becomes a part of us.  It interacts with the deepest part of what we are meant to be and entangles itself in our innermost being.  We were designed to relate; we cannot help but to relate.  We were designed to connect; we can’t help but connect.  We were designed to cling to God; we cannot help but cling.  So when we are asked to leave, whether from loving Godly people or abusive ones, it racks our soul to its ultimate center, no matter how much better the thing we are being asked to cling to may be.

There is a walking trail here at Norbertine.  It winds its way through the desert.  As I walked it, I noted the shrubbery.  Despite ample rains over the winter, it was dry, desiccated, barely hanging onto life, longing for the next little rain for hope of survival, doing all it can to avoid the sun.

Those plants are symbolic of where I am in life; dry, desiccated, longing for rain and good soil, doing what I can to keep the heat of the sun from sucking out what little is left and destroying me.

The land is dry, barren, and desiccated and yet has just enough.  It enchants you to stay by providing just enough.  It’s hard to say goodbye even to that which kills for that which brings life.

*End of John’s Journaling

Moving Forward

It is time for us to move forward.  What exactly that looks like for us, I do not know.  Next week I’ll share what I do know and what we have done so far in the moving forward process.

Next Week: Church Hurts Part 5 – Moving Forward

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