Since the beginning of time, the church has been an instrumental resource to support people through life’s difficulties. After all, The church is supposed to be God’s plan for showing people how to honor him and live the “good life”. It’s intended to provide hope and inspiration for those who use it in the process.
To date, the church remains one of the most sought after resources to address challenges in the black community. One of the heaviest influences for the reliance of the church dates back to slavery which allowed the church to be one of the only resources available for black and brown people to seek relief from social and cultural oppression.
Due to oppressive practices that have adversely influenced mental health in the black community, the black church has continued to remain very instrumental in addressing mental health challenges of it’s congregation.
But as with anything intended for good, bad things happen as well. The black church, and its effort to provide support for those who need it, has also been instrumental in implementing hurtful practices. Some of the most influential areas that this has been observed has been through conversations and religious doctrine which has aided in oppressing people belonging to the LGBTQ community as well as survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic violence.
The outcome of church hurt can be overwhelming. Sometimes relationships are permanently severed between people who are victimized by or who reinforce the church hurt practices. Other people leave the church entirely in pursuit of either agnostic or other religious practices, many of which refer to themselves as spiritual while not worshipping any supreme God. And while a person’s right to worship (or not) is a personal decision, a more informed decision can be made when they know how to address the hurt from the church.
Here are four steps to overcoming church hurt:
Feel the feelings. It has to feel bad to have the very resources that you should be able to depend on (i.e. the church), let you down. The church gains most of its power through using people that we know, like, and trust as vehicles that bring this pain. Don’t deprive yourself of the right to feel your feelings for what they are. If you’re sad about it, be sad. If it makes you cry, let your tears flow. Learn to trust your feelings and know that whatever you are feeling is valid to you, irrespective of what anyone else tells you, you should be experiencing.
Separate from the offender if the offense continues. If you are an adult, you don’t have to surround yourself with people who hurt you. Many of us grow up with the mindset that family is family (biological and/or church) and that one she never turn their back on a family member. But what often remains unspoken, is the fact that our family members often turn their back on us first, which in return overrules the betrayal that we may be accused of for distancing ourselves from bad people.
In fact, second Corinthians 6:14 reminds us that we should “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…” If a person is judging you and causing you to feel bad about yourself, it’s a sign that your beliefs are not compatible. After all, ” He who is without sin cast the first stone” ~ John 8:7
Fact check. Just because a religious leader has informed you of something that makes you feel bad, doesn’t mean it’s true. And even if it is true, you don’t have to follow their approach to fixing it.
Consult with a spiritual leader that you feel comfortable with, only if you wish to pursue some form of religion. Trust your instinct. If your dad is telling you that something is wrong with your spiritual leader, it’s something that you want to take seriously as it is your greatest indicator that something is not right. By trusting your instincts and connecting with someone you can trust, your chances of growing your religious faith will improve significantly.
Surround yourself with like minded people. The chart is a very common thing and it’s helpful to be surrounded by other people who can be a source of inspiration for you. Even if you’re connected by other experiences, it’s important to be surrounded by people who can think in a broader context of things so that they can help you along as well.
Change is difficult, and changing your relationship with church hurt is no exception. After all, it requires that a person come to terms with something that was designed to help them, which was subsequently used to hurt them. If you would like help working through your church hurt, please contact us today for a free, 15 minute, consultation.