I was talking to a friend today about life, and how it makes such interesting twists and turns.
She is much younger than I am. In fact she is probably about the same age as my youngest son. :)
She and her sister have seen much heartache in this life, and as young people, they did not know the Lord. They turned their hearts and desires towards Him when they had already tread some paths that have brought them regret.
As we were talking, it dawned upon me that she had no idea of some of my life when I was younger. Because of the nature of our conversation, I was able to share a little with her about my earlier years.
She has felt that the problems she has faced in life are sometimes of the magnitude that many who have grown up in the church are completely unable to relate to her. Even though I did grow up within a broad Christian circle, my early married life took some horrific paths and I learned much about the grace and mercy of God through very difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, I understand her conclusions about how SOME within the church deal with sin, with the effects of sin, with past sin, with new believers who have horrific pasts, and with those who are believers living in horrific conditions.
As I was talking to her, memories flooded in of me as a young mother seeking counsel about my situation. I walked away many times bewildered not only by the "casualness of what I was told, but the true lack of love I felt from those who were supposed to love me." If this was LOVE, I was in serious trouble.
I actually had a woman tell me one time, that she knew of another woman in my situation that obeyed God and submitted to her husband, and when He came at her with a hammer, she simply began to pray in tongues and he couldn't hit her! NO kidding. She used this example to show me where I had failed in my life and how I was in sin.
There was another man who called me and told me that I had no right to marry again. I was an adulteress and he went on and on. This same man had had numerous relationships with women of an inappropriate nature, though he himself only wanted to marry a pure woman.
Then, there was the time I went to MY OWN CHURCH (not the one I am in at present) to seek food for my family. A very grouchy assistant pastor came out and yelled at me, demanding to know, "How did you get yourself into this situation?" I had never met this man, nor had I ever asked for food before.
I was so embarrassed and horrified and humiliated, I left, with him then saying, "Wait, do you need food?" Well, yea, but not from you.
Let's see, How DID I get myself into that situation?
I purposely married a lousy man who used drugs and was an alcoholic. I purposely married a man who mistreated me and my children, because that is what I really wanted...... duh.....So I decided to give birth to 4 children within 4 years and live in poverty and I got myself into this situation because I was of such a vile and sinful nature that I could do no other. Oh yea, and I was a total idiot.
Sometimes, that is how those within the church make you feel. It is one of those situations where they approach you with a, "We've got it all together because we are special and it is our job to fix you and make you see things our way, and by the way, 'you really are an idiot'! "
When you go to them to share a real problem, you get to thinking, "this person has never missed a meal, the worst problem they have had in their entire life is a broken nail or the store didn't carry the right hair color, and... they think I'm an idiot."
Have I said idiot enough?
Those thoughts and feelings are very raw and very real. They are some of the reasons I stopped seeking any kind of counsel except on my knees in prayer and in the reading of my bible.
I say that today and I'm bothered by that. We SHOULD be able to seek godly counsel. We SHOULD be able to get help and be LOVED by the Body of Christ. We SHOULDN'T bear our burdens alone. But many do, for the very reasons I have stated above.
The problem is for those who have grown up in the church, including myself.... we don't see our sin as stinky. We don't see our true condition. We have a list of rights and wrongs and as long as we safely stay away from the 10 majors, then well, we are doing pretty good! Right? WRONG!!!!!We don't know that we are the ones who are poor, and hungry and naked.
That basically makes us Pharisees. The Pharisees were able to follow the law and even built laws around the law to make sure they didn't break the law. In fact, Paul stated that he followed the law perfectly! But Christ referred to them as "white washed seplechurs full of dead men's bones."
But Christ raised the bar of the law abit. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, AND Love your neighbor as yourself." In His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, he gives a very revealing sermon on what His desire is for us. "Love your enemy", turn the other cheek, if somebody takes your coat, give him your sweater as well."
For those who do talk to others who are struggling: Are we applying Christ's words? Are we loving that person as we would love ourselves. Are we treating them as we would want to be treated? Or are we shocked at the depth of their sin, and disgusted by their lack of spiritual awareness? Are we rightly dividing the word of Truth with them?
It is my hope that when somebody does seek counsel, they will find a wealth of love and support, both in the Word of God, in the spoken word and in deed; also that a clear picture of Christ will be presented and that they will walk away ready and excited about continuing down the path of Life, despite the problems they are facing. It is my hope and desire that those within the church who desire to counsel, will first be humble and know that if they have not experienced extreme hardship, it isn't because they are so special and they have made wonderful choices, but it is the blessing of God upon them and His mercy that has kept them, in spite of themselves.And this IS something to be thankful for!
And for those who HAVE gone through extreme hardship,that they would allow the Lord to use them to bring about HIS glory and that they would encourage others to press on to the finish line.
All of us... every one of us.... no matter how pretty, how pleasant, how ugly, how unpleasant, were born naked, and in desperate need of a Savior. We all come to know Him the same way; in Faith, through the precious blood of Christ.
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)
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