Growing Your Faith

Perspective in the Pain

Perspective in the Pain

by Lori Hartin on March 3, 2017
“I feel like it’s all a show,” my friend told me.

We were discussing a past experience with church. For a moment, I was reminded of Ariel Moore’s remark to her preacher father in the 1984 film Footloose, “I see the stage. I see the costumes. It’s show business, isn’t it?”

My friend was disappointed and hurt by those who seemed closest to God. Wounded by “family.”

It had been a hard few months for this friend. What had started out as an exciting journey in a ministry career had ended in broke-down dreams and job termination. And with this heartbreak came lots of questions. The kids asking why they couldn’t go to their youth class. The creditors asking why bills weren’t paid. Friends asking about the family’s absence on Sundays.

And her inner voice asking, “Are all churches like this?”
My heart went out. I have had my own experience of being deeply wounded by those I thought I could count on.

When we talked, it would’ve been easy to validate my friend’s feelings. After all, the broken heart was understandable and my own heart cried for what had happened. But at the same time, having gone through my own hurtful journey, I knew that what was needed went beyond validation and commiseration. It was time to bring perspective to the pain. It was time to be the light for a friend that was sitting in a dark place of rejection.
So I shared my own story and the lesson I had learned.

“Don’t let this experience ruin worship for you. Yes, it seemed like a show there. But it is not like that everywhere. The thing that got me through my own experience was remembering that instead of wondering if a new church is fake, now I’m actually better able to detect lack of authenticity.”

Although my friend was encouraged by this perspective, even more important was her realization that God hadn’t been the one to hurt, disappoint, and reject. Knowing this truth would give her the courage to try again. The courage to know she has been called to shepherd God’s people. The courage to address lack of integrity when she encounters it, even with God’s people. And, ultimately, the courage to know that even when church feels fake, God is the real deal.
“…God assured us, “I’ll never let you down,
never walk off and leave you,…”
Hebrews 13:5, MSG