"Hurt people hurt people.” -Florence Marr, Greenberg
“We are just breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.” –Ingrid Michaelson
Last night I attended my favorite worship service ever.
There were clergy from all over the United States and overseas, sections of worshippers from other Anglican churches in town, and a whole host of other individuals from our city. Every row from the front to the back was filled with a patchwork of broken and beautiful believers.
How do I know we were both broken and beautiful? Because among this group gathered to worship and celebrate were people whom have both hurt me and offered me healing.
Yet, I love them all.
I love them even though they are the crazy uncles Donald Miller wrote about last week. They are the people who hold my hands up when I can’t go on anymore. They are the ones who help me know that forgiveness is a real and possible thing, even if that realization comes by what they have done to me. They are the ones who lead me in worship. They are the ones didn’t give up on me. They didn’t give up on the church in North America. They are the ones who turn me to Jesus.
Let me tell you, we are broken and beautiful bunch.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I have experienced spiritual abuse. When I stepped out of mainstream evangelicalism and fundamentalism, I vowed that I would never, and I mean never, put myself or my family back in a place where we would experience abuse at the hand of people who said they were believers.
Well, that did not turn out to be the case. I was exposed to such along the Canterbury Trail too. There is no right or wrong denomination. We are all susceptible to sustaining hurt at the hands of others.
Hurt people hurt people.
And among us are leaders who are wolves rather than shepherds. Among us are leaders who struggle with narcissism and probably have other personality disorders. Among us are people who live in denial rather than reality. I have been the victim of their contradictions, their manipulation, their delusions of grandeur, their lies, and their own hurt they are projecting among the flock. That is a fact.
The other side is that I have received healing from those among us who love Jesus with a love that can’t even be put into words. Some of them simply put their hands on theirs Bible, and they are moved to tears. They move me to tears.
We were all in that chapel last night.
During the sermon Bishop John Rucyahana, told our pastor (and now our Bishop), not to take the Gospel lightly. We can’t because we know there are these deep and dark places where the Gospel needs to penetrate. These places are among our own churches.
Dear people, we can’t take the Gospel lightly because we can’t take sin and hurt and abuse and denial of truth lightly. We can’t turn our back on what needs to be handled and forgiven and brought out into the open.
It must be dealt with. It must have The Light shined upon it. It must.
And I will not be silent about this.
This is a time when we need to turn ourselves inward and ask if we are taking the Gospel lightly. Are we? And, if so, why? Is it because we are afraid to admit that among us is brokenness—in our own families, our own churches, and in our own leadership?
What is to be done about the brokenness? For we cannot be effective in our charges to go and preach the Gospel among the nations if we have not been changed by the Gospel ourselves, right here in our own pews. If we have not been utterly undone by Jesus Himself in spite of the hurt we have sustained.
The work that God does in our life includes choosing to live into pain and hurt, just as Jesus did when He went to the cross. When He entered our world for that matter. It involves love and forgiveness, just like Jesus taught and just like He lived when He said, “Father, forgiven them. For they know not what they do.”
I want to be the first to say that God can work out love and forgiveness. He has done it for groups of people in Rwanda who murdered each other’s family members.
He is doing it for me in my own relationships.
I believe He grieves when we hurt one another. I believe He sits with me as I work out the wounds from the abuse. I can’t understand why He didn’t choose to stop it. But I can believe that He has never removed His hand from me or from any of His children all of these years.
That is why I can sing among the broken and the beautiful, just like I did last night. That is why I can walk forward to receive Eucharist with and among those whose actions played a difficult part in my life.
Hallelujah, glory be to our great God!