I sit pondering.
How do I admit to the blogosphere that I’m struggling with forgiveness.
In this moment.
I grew up in a world where struggles were kept hidden.
Masks were put on as we made our way to church.
Surrounded by other mask wearing people, we learned the dance:
To pretend. To hide.
To play the game:
The perfect Christian.
We knew the right words.
The correct phrases.
The Christian lingo that kept our truth hidden.
The truth about our struggles.
Because good Christians who believe in God and have big faith-
They were the ones giving the advice, saying the prayers,
Preaching the best sermons.
The truth is
that behind closed doors
the “perfect Christians”
Pastors. Evangelists. Missionaries. Preacher’s Kids and Missionary Kids. Sunday School Teachers. Board Members. Church Attenders. Church families.
Addiction. Pornography. Affairs. Abuse. Broken relationships. Gossip. Slander. Lies. Cheating. Scandle.
We all kept our struggles hidden.
Secrets. Stored in closets.
And if a secret grew so big it could no longer be contained,
all the other Christians looked upon those who had been exposed with judgement, guilt ridden looks, declaring words such as
“You should be ashamed of yourself”
“Did you hear what they did?!”
Secrets whispered, shame expected.
I heard the words.
On my wedding day.
“I’m sorry for shaming the family.”
That marriage is now dissolved and no more.
I heard the words through days of addiction.
“I’m sorry for shaming the church, the family…”
And herein is where my greatest struggle lies.
Because my greatest heartache has come from the one place that was supposed to be safe.
The house of God.
I said it.
I need to forgive the church.
Not the church that I believe exists wherever God’s children gather.
No. It’s the church. The institution. The 4 walls. The denominations. The Bible Colleges. The board rooms. The ministries. The rules. The expectations. All of it, inside the 4 walls.
of the Church.
The building that when I enter, I feel a sickness and shaking so intense that it’s been diagnosed as PTSD. And any reminder is a trigger for full blown anxiety that does not go away.
But why, the church?
I attended Christian preschool, elementary school and 1 year of high school. I think I lived at church. Sunday school, youth group, Bible Quiz teams, church leadership teams, puppet team (admitting that too!). I was a women’s ministries director, children’s ministries coordinator, ministry assistant, networker, builder, fundraiser. I attended Bible College, Christian college, worked in a Seminary. STOP. It. Right. Now.
I am the granddaughter of evangelists and married into a Preaching, Missionary, Bible College teaching family.
My entire family, is the church. Was the church. The 4 walls. The denominations.
Then. One day. I walked away.
Betrayal. Rumors. Lies. Half Truths. Shame taught. Guilt impressed. False images of perfection. Gaslighting. Blame. Finger pointing. Letter writing. Spiritual abuse. Financial abuse. Emotional abuse. Threats.
Feelings so intense, my soul shook, my heart shattered. Nervous Breakdowns. Panic Attacks.
I walked away. I hid away.
Be careful who you tell. Don’t talk about it. Keep it hidden.
Did you hear what he did? What she said? What happened?!
IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE!
I bought the books.
I’ve prayed the prayers.
I’ve gone to deliverance meetings, counseling sessions, and trainings.
I’ve confessed it out loud and to friends.
My closest friends have seen the tears and heard my cries.
So I’m openly admitting, I’m tired of the game of pretending. Hiding. Secrets.
I’m openly admitting to my struggle and I’ve heard that when we finally step out, in faith, willing to be vulnerable while not condemning nor shaming nor blaming (God knows we’ve had enough of this in our lifetime)
Well, that’s when the breakthrough happens.
The healing breaks forth.
AND I KNOW I CAN’T GROW IF I DON’T FORGIVE.
70 times 7, right?
Take a deep breath, and let it all go.
So today, I’m taking a new step forward and openly admitting
I’m struggling to forgive.
I’m not alone. I know this. I’ve heard other stories.
I want the others to know, you’re not alone.
And I’m part of the church that needs to be forgiven.
And, I need to forgive myself.
So for all of us in the struggle,
I want to declare: Breathrough in Forgiveness.
I believe strongly in the power of declarations and affirmations.
So today I declare over myself and all others:
This is our day to forgive all who have wronged us. To forgive ourselves.
To allow ourselves to be forgiven. And to ask forgiveness.
Today, we pull out the deeply imbedded roots of pain, struggle, and heartache and allow God’s healing oils to seep into the space now left.
This is our breakthrough season of full forgiveness. Wholeness.
This is a new season of freedom that we will walk in.
And where we have healing and breakthrough, we will be able to bring healing and breakthrough for others.
Do you know who they are? Who I am? WHO WE ALL ARE?!
Children of God!
Brothers and sisters.
One church. One Bride. One Body. Us.
We can’t be love if we don’t forgive.
I can’t be love if I don’t forgive.
THIS is MY STORY and it WILL be for HIS glory.