It is no secret that I’ve been hurt by church. You’ve probably experienced your own church hurt as well. A mature Christian eventually goes on with life, I suppose.
I did not.
I healed in some ways and tried to heal in others, but I would never let God get to the root of the problem. He would begin to work close to the most painful part and I would turn from His healing hand. “Not yet, God. I’m not ready for that yet.”
He was so patient with me. Years passed, and I would smile and hug and fight the tender affection threatening to outgrow my chest. I didn’t want to love anyone. Not truly. I feared making a connection that could be broken–a connection that could break me.
So I held people at arm’s length. I became a master at redirecting the conversation whenever someone tried to reach an unavailable part of my heart. And I refused to fall in love with church again.
I returned to the place that broke me. I had been there before, but my focus was always centered on breathing and getting out unscathed. This time, I had a different focus: restoration.
I knew, with a deep certainty, that God would finally reach into my heart and do the painful work if I would ask Him. If I would let Him. His heart for me was always abundant life, was always healing.
But He knew, far better than I, that an abundant life sometimes requires pain. Healing sometimes requires pain.
So on that land, I knelt and wept as I asked God to restore my faith. I asked Him to be my courage as He worked in me and to restore everything the enemy had stolen there, including my courage to love people deeply.
It hasn’t been perfect and I am certainly a work in progress, but I resolve daily to hand my heart over to Christ. “I’m all in,” I whisper. And for the first time in such a long time, I mean it.
I used to believe that a God who truly knew me, truly loved me, wouldn’t let me feel pain. Each stab of heartache felt like rejection, like God didn’t care enough to protect me.
But I’m beginning to see that pain is part of the process. Not because He finds pleasure in watching me break over and over again, but because each crack of my heart cultivates a richer foundation for our relationship. And God needs good soil to plant anything worthwhile or lasting in me.
He didn’t stop the ache in my chest, but He held me while my chest ached. He didn’t prevent the situations that made me cry, but He wiped my tears. And He didn’t snap His fingers and fix my heart, but He pursued my broken heart with a tender love that has made Him more real to me than anything else.
What are you keeping from Him in fear that healing will hurt? What do you need to ask Him to restore in your life?