The other day my two boys and I were at the grocery store picking up some ingredients to make homemade salsa. As we were leaving, I lifted my 3 year old out of the cart and somehow he bumped his leg against the side. A little cut, a cm long appeared over his right knee as he started crying. I held him and wiped away the dot of blood that was forming. In that moment he was feeling physical pain and discomfort. As I walk my hurt son to the car, I educate him on the healing process of our body. I lift him into the car and with his lip out he points to his knee and says "Daddy its healing, but healing hurts." It was in those small words that I saw the profound wisdom of the moment. Healing Hurts! It does, its a process sometimes a long process. Especially when we are talking about healing our hearts and relationship with God through our faith community. For those of us who have scraped our knees we know the moment will pass and we will move on. When our faith is shaken it's much harder to move forward. There are many ways in which faith institutions have caused harm to others. In this post I am just going to briefly touch on a few below.
Hurt by Relationships
There are many who have been hurt by institutions of faith. Places who say they love all people but yet do not allow others to fully participate. Where would Jesus draw a line in the sand at in this day and age when it comes to someone's wholeness? How are you lifting others up in a way that affirms who they are? I believe faith is meant to be lived out with others. It is in others whom we encounter God. And through that community growth happens, and our faith deepens. When others hurt, judge, or minimize us, it makes us not want to participate. This too can cause our faith to falter and we distant ourselves from community.
Hurt by Scripture
For some faith communities scripture has been used to prove points and satisfy desires to be right. Others use scripturally literally, as fact without any thought or discussion otherwise. And some use scripture to justify actions which produce injustice and hurt in this world. The use of scripture in these ways inevitably causes division and harm to some of God's beloved children. I included Doctrine and Covenants 163 7a-d below because it states the meaning and misuse of scripture very well.
Doctrine and Covenants 163
7a. Scripture is an indispensable witness to the Eternal Source of light and truth, which cannot be fully contained in any finite vessel or language. Scripture has been written and shaped by human authors through experiences of revelation and ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of time and culture.
b. Scripture is not to be worshiped or idolized. Only God, the Eternal One of whom scripture testifies, is worthy of worship. God’s nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, provides the ultimate standard by which any portion of scripture should be interpreted and applied.
c. It is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.
d. Scripture, prophetic guidance, knowledge, and discernment in the faith community must walk hand in hand to reveal the true will of God. Follow this pathway, which is the way of the Living Christ, and you will discover more than sufficient light for the journey ahead.
Hurt by Inaction
There are people who have been hurt by their faith community not acting quickly or decisively enough. The world changes daily. There are injustices happening all around us and yet faith communities are sometimes slow to meet the needs of the time. Churches can no longer live in the past, or focus on internal happenings, but must live in the community in which they are. Actions need to be thoughtful, thinking holistically about how others will be impacted. The book Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton describes how our actions can have unintended consequences if we do not think them through. Having courage to take action is when faith is lived out. Discerning and identifying what action to take is what is difficult. What action have you been thinking about taking? Where can you be involved in your community? How can your passions affirm another person? Every change starts somewhere, and being stagnant is not an option. One thing I like about Community of Christ is the focus on the present and what we can do today instead of dwelling on the past and what has been.
So as my 3 year old said, healing hurts. Whatever it is that hurt you in the past know that your healing started right then and continues today. Maybe you feel like you just started or maybe you are much further down the path. Wherever you find yourself, continue searching, asking questions, and growing individually. Maybe one day you will find an immense joy through this experience. You may also find the strength to be courageous in living your faith out with a community. My prayers are with you on your journey.
Thank you for all those reading along! Please comment below with a thought from the blog whether its something general or specific. I would love to have some discussion so we can all expand our viewpoints and look at things differently.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.