To Those Who've Been Hurt By The Church, I Promise It Gets Better

To Those Who've Been Hurt By The Church, I Promise It Gets Better

It's a topic that we don't talk about, but we should.

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Growing up in the church my entire life, I've heard countless stories of hurt within the church, and I've had my own experiences feeling rejected by the body that is intended to meet people where they're at.

From my earliest memories, I've attended church and been a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at around 5 years old. My faith didn't really come to life though, until around 6th grade. As a young child, some of my closest friends were well connected to leadership in my church and well known in general. Although my family had close friends within our church and volunteered regularly, I wouldn't have considered us particularly popular. Having such well-connected friends didn't bother me as a kid because I didn't really know that I was supposed to feel left out until around middle school. As a natural introvert, I was very comfortable being a part of the ministry in a more behind the scenes way.

Over time though, I started to hate being unknown.

I hated knowing people's names and not being known back. I felt deeply unworthy because my life and family didn't match the perfection I thought I saw in the church's most important families. Now don't get me wrong, there were some good years of community with friends who lived out their genuine passion for Jesus and his kingdom. But as a high schooler, these friends would graduate and move on, and I would be stuck trying to reconnect. My church though, allowed me to serve, travel, go on mission trips, and share the gospel. I fell in love with Jesus within the church. Even as I served in a youth leadership role during high school, something deep inside told me that I would never quite be like the people in church that everyone idolized.

For someone who had dedicated their time, effort, and love to the church, I felt relatively unloved in return.

So I continued to serve and lead when on the inside, I was totally empty. I carried silently what felt like such a heavy weight of comparison and rejection. It wasn't until I got mono my junior year of high school that I was forced to drop out of my leadership in the church. This shift caused me to completely drop out of my church in every capacity. So many different factors made that part of my life the hardest I've been through so far and being desperately far from God and the church made it so much worse. During the next year, I church-hopped some but mostly stayed far from God and questioned every aspect of my faith.

It wasn't until a friend brought me to a church she had been attending that I decided to give church another shot. Here I found the leadership approachable and unthreatening, and for the first time, I didn't feel unequal. Even though I had reconnected to the body of Christ and had begun to reconnect to God, I still was cynical and unsure about how I could truly live a life confident of who I was after the enemy had made me question my identity for years.

The Lord has taken me on a long journey to reclaim my identity both in and out of church and it's a process I'm still going through.

Although I am endlessly grateful for the church I grew up in and the way it allowed me to discover who God is, it is bittersweet knowing that a place that I loved so much caused me pain. But that is a truth that I have come to know as I've grown up.

The church is simply a group of broken people trying to love and honor their Creator but sometimes falling short.

As Christians, we still say the wrong things, make mistakes and hurt each other. Being inside the four walls of a church doesn't mean we won't mess up, but as we are called higher, we have to seek reconciliation with the church. The first step is recognizing that we have been hurt by specific individuals or the congregation in general. And while confrontation may the path forward for some, I found that talking to God, and letting him transform my heart gave me more peace than any conversation with anyone else.

Loving and following God means we need to love the things he does and God LOVES his church. We cannot really know the nature and character of God without engaging with his people.

So, to those who have been hurt by the church, I just want you to know, the Lord sees and knows your pain. The greatest desire of his heart is that you would know him and his people and glorify him through that knowing. I pray that through drawing near to the Lord, he would comfort and redeem places in your life where the church have left a hurtful mark. In all things, the Lord gives us beauty for ashes.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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5 Facts About Spiritual Gifts That You Need To Know

Different gifts, but from the same Spirit

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1 Corinthians 12:4-5 states; "[4] There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. [5] There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." We see that there are multiple spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Lord.

1. We all have different gifts and that's okay

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Just like a body has different parts that each has its own function, that's like the body of Christ. We all have different gifts and different purposes, but we're all part of the body of Christ. God has a plan for you and has given you certain gifts. God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the calling.

2. There are various spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible

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Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 are some of the bible passages that talk about spiritual gifts. Giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, service, tongue interpretation, administration, discernment, hospitality, missionary, and evangelism are some of the spiritual gifts that people can have. We can desire any gift, but it's God's choice on what gifts He gives us.

Remember, everyone can receive speaking in tongues via baptism in the Holy Spirit, but not everyone will get the gift of tongue interpretation.

3. Spiritual Gifts are supernatural abilities that are either given or enhanced via the Holy Spirit

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God gave us these Spiritual gifts because God wants to invest in His church.

4. Spiritual gifts are for strengthening others

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We have spiritual gifts in order to help others.

5. It does take time for gifts to mature and develop

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Like with a skill that you have, it does take time for you to own said skill. You put in the work, and because of that, you grow in your skill, and you get better. That's the same way with your gifts. God gives each of us certain gifts to use, and it will take time to mature those gifts.

Spiritual gifts are important.

In Romans 12:6 states; "[6] We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; [7] if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; [8] if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

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