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Wounded by God’s People, ch2: Life is Hard

Wounded By God's People, by Anne Graham Lotz

Wounded by God’s People, by Anne Graham Lotz

I’m blogging through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People, chapter by chapter. If you’d like to join me, get the book from your favourite retailer or church library, and read along. Please share your thoughts on the book as well, either in the comments below, or in your own blog post. If you do blog about it elsewhere, remember to post your link below!

Anne begins chapter two with the questions, “When do wounds begin? Who can remember the first one? And who can claim a life without them?”

She tells several horrific stories from her childhood and early adulthood, each involving a memorable wound she suffered from individuals such as a stern Sunday school teacher, a cruel headmistress at a Christian boarding school, and “a distinguished elderly lady [at church who] rose from her seat, walked stiffly over to my mother, and with a stern look pronounced judgment on me…”

As she describes this series of wounds, each carried out by Christians in authority, I’m reminded just how deeply familiar she is with the kind of pain and injustice believers are capable of. Her pain makes her relatable to those of us who’ve suffered similar injuries.

Throughout the book, in addition to telling her own story, Anne takes a close look at the life of Abram’s Egyptian servant, Hagar. In this chapter, she introduces a story from Genesis 13 about Lot’s conflict with Abram, interpreting these events through Hagar’s eyes. After seeing the positive difference God made in Abram’s life, Anne focuses on the way Hagar must have felt afterwards, when Abram treated her so unjustly. For anyone who’s been in Hagar’s shoes, there’s a temptation to let our wounds turn us into wounders. This is Anne’s transition to the next chapter, where she takes a closer look at this cycle of being wounded and wounding others in return.

Probably one of the chapter’s highlights, for me, is the decision Anne made years ago that she wouldn’t let rotten ‘Christian’ behavior interfere in her relationship with God. This point resonated with me because it reflected my experience, thanks to the example my parents set during a number of deeply painful encounters with fellow Christians. As a pastor’s kid, I had seen several church leaders manipulate and take advantage of my parents, and yet their relationship with God never changed. As they modelled for my brother and me, once they recognized a situation to be toxic, when people resisted healing and growth, then it was time to find a healthier community. After a couple difficult experiences, we did find a healthier church which had recently come through its own heartache. As their pastor, Dad’s first task was to lead the congregation’s healing process, and in turn, they were a balm to our wounds as well. We found healing together. Meanwhile, my parents’ relationship with God didn’t change. If anything, it was only made stronger.

It was in this church that I became baptized as a teenager. I had been attending a Christian high school with great teachers, great programs, and a good student body. Except, unfortunately, for my class, it seemed. Over the span of four years I languished at the bottom of a very unforgiving social food chain. So when I got baptized, one of the main points in my testimony was that I had made my commitment to God in spite of the un-Christlike witness of many of my Christian peers at school.

I’m reminded of the ‘sinners’ Jesus befriended during His time on earth, and how much they loved Him in spite of the hateful treatment they experienced from the Pharisees. And remember the woman caught in adultery? How different could their reactions have been: The Pharisees wanted to stone her, whereas Jesus gave her another chance at life. It was the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees that drove people to Jesus. In a way, I can say that happened to me as well.

It would be an honour if you chose to join me in reading through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People. I’ll be reflecting on each chapter here on my blog, and I’d love to hear your reflections too.

Thanks for joining me today!



How to be a better Good Samaritan


Photo by Ruths138

Photo by Ruths138

What happens when we pass by someone who needs our help?

Several years ago, when my Dad was in the early stages of dementia, he lost most of his Christian friends. The reason was simple: They were too uncomfortable with his symptoms to be a friend to him during his life’s biggest, darkest, and final struggle.

So I contacted everyone I could think of at his church, and couldn’t believe the excuses they gave for keeping their distance–leaders included. As one of them so eloquently stated, “I’m not going to babysit.” A handful of people tried to help, but most of those same people also defended the excuses we were hearing.

We eventually found a long-term friend for Dad and regular, ongoing emotional/spiritual support for my parents from two other churches in town. Finally, we had found Christians who wanted to treat Dad with dignity, and be the hands and feet of Jesus in our lives! Then, amazingly, near the end of Dad’s time at home before moving to a nursing home, three people from his original church kindly came alongside him.

I share this so the other side of the story can be heard. And here’s the thing all Good Samaritans seem to know: When we fail to obey God’s command to love our neighbor, our sin isn’t just between us and God.

Our faith, like western society, is terribly individualistic. So please humor me as I repeat: When we fail to love our neighbor, our sin isn’t just between us and God.

What happens when we pass by someone who needs our help? What’s it like for those people? We shield ourselves from those thoughts. It’s too uncomfortable, too convicting to realize that our sin has tangible, painful, and sometimes disastrous consequences for the people we overlook.

I wish Dad hadn’t spent the last years of his life aching for the sense of community that should’ve embraced him all along, and believe me, this is a lesson my family will never forget.

Sometimes we have only one chance to be a light in someone’s life, and sometimes we might be the only one to notice that person’s suffering. If we pass them by, the consequences are permanent.

So let us rethink the story of the good Samaritan and our own role in that story. When we cross paths with someone lonely or in need, let’s resolve to treat our opportunity with the gravity and careful thought it deserves.

Let’s start recognizing the difference between our excuses and legitimate reasons for not being able to help. When we’re being honest with ourselves, if we realize that we really can help, then let’s roll up our sleeves and enjoy the surprises and blessings God has in store for us along the way.


Wounded by God’s People: Being Understood


Wounded By God's People, by Anne Graham Lotz

Wounded By God’s People, by Anne Graham Lotz

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.

What about you?
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?


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