All of us know what it feels like to be on the periphery. My husband and I suddenly found ourselves on the “outside” after we had been profoundly rejected by our church. Though it happened many years ago, the painful memory still lingers. – from “Wounded by God’s People” by Anne Graham Lotz
When I began reading “Wounded by God’s People” I initially hoped to hear about the way other present-day Christians had experienced and dealt with wounds like mine.
However, when the book delved into the introductory overview of Hagar’s story in the Old Testament, I wondered if the book would take me on a less personal, more devotional-style journey through the topic of rejection and healing.
And I have to admit, I felt a bit disappointed, as my own painful encounter with fellow Christians has left me hungry to know that others understand what it’s like to suffer from my particular kind of church-inflicted wound.
But as soon as I read the first paragraph of chapter one (quoted above), I knew the author had anticipated my need as a wounded reader. When I’m hurting, I’ve found, something inexplicably healing takes place when someone exposes the story of their own similar pain with me.
In the paragraphs after her opening, Anne Graham Lotz proves that she speaks from experience, and describes the extent of her and her husband’s rejection from their church, as well as their shock and sense of alienation.
Her wounds are real, I realized. And they go deep. As does her understanding of the often devastating, lonely, and confusing experience of dealing with the aftermath of a Christian-against-Christian offense.
I realize I don’t need to deal with another dry, impersonal lesson about my situation, like the kind I’ve heard from well-meaning yet un-empathetic friends and family who are tired of–and possibly a bit annoyed by–my attempts at working through the wounds I suffered.
In Anne Graham Lotz, I’ve found a sort of mentor, someone who’s willing to rock the proverbial boat by publicly discussing her conflicts with church people, and be transparent about the pain it caused her, so that I and readers like me can be certain that she knows–really knows–what she’s talking about.
God doesn’t promise to erase the sting of our injury. Even an act of forgiveness won’t necessarily extinguish the ache that persists, sometimes years after the fact.
Yet some individuals in my life have hinted that by forgiving my offenders, I should be able to move on as if nothing happened. Well, forgiveness and love have certainly drawn me closer to many of the people who were involved, and yet the pain lingers. In relating her own difficult journey, Lotz lets us know that experiences like this are normal.
So I’m looking forward to the rest of “Wounded by God’s People,” and I’ll be writing about it here along the way. Meanwhile, if you’ve been wounded by people calling themselves Christians, why not give this book a try.
If you’ve been hurt by a fellow Christian, how have you been impacted by finding (or not finding) someone who understands and empathizes with your pain?