I am thankful that I write down my thoughts in my journal. When you look back at past entries you are able to zoom out on your life and see the broader picture. When you are in the middle of living your day to day, your focus is too blurry. Being able to see more of how your journey is unfolding helps you see a little bit clearer.
Years ago when my husband and I left the first church we were pastoring, I remember going through a time of mourning, which led to counselling and a journey of healing. At the beginning of this journey I remember Dustin holding me while I was crying and we were talking through life and what our future could hold. I remember saying that I wish I could see 10 years down the road, and be able to say what a great learning experience that was.
Well that was 22 years ago, I don't know if I can say that it was a great learning experience but it was something that we learned to work through together and brought Dustin and I closer in the early stages of our marriage.
As I have been coming through the hurt from my experience in 2018 and moving into the healing stage I have been reading through past entries in my journal. Here is an excerpt from May 2019:
How often we get in the spiral of confusion and we don't know how to move forward. Sitting in confusion gets comfortable and then we feel that there is no way to make a decision so we choose not to make a decision. Then we get stuck and then we just don't know how to move forward.
I can remember writing this journal entry. I was suffering in silence at this point. I didn't want to admit my struggle to anyone because I didn't want to feel shame or to be judged. I chose to continue to suffer for months with so much inner turmoil. I didn't pray because I thought God didn't care, when I did speak to Him there was so much anger in my voice, and hatred in my words.
The inner turmoil was that I felt like something was missing, that there was more going on in this situation and I didn't understand. I longed to return to the scriptures and to listen for that still small voice but I couldn't get the thought that this "message from God" I received - told me that I wasn't wanted by God and I had no place teaching in His name.
I carried this feeling of rejection for a long time. We are all searching to understand who we are and how we fit into this world. I had lost my place and I started to change. I must have so many people confused on my Instagram account because I keep changing my name and the content so much. Sorry about that. I have been trying to find my way.
The title of this post is hurting to healing. I have been hurting for a long time. My thoughts have been so negative and the deep wound of hurt is going to take time to heal. But I am starting to heal. I am starting to find my way back. I am starting to feel more like myself again.
I am thankful for friends that I was able to have a safe place to share, they support me in prayer, and encourage me to open my Bible everyday. My healing is found in the scriptures.
I will continue to share my journey here. I know when I was struggling I didn't know where to go for help. I hope that I am able to give support to those that don't know where to go or who to talk to.
"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." 2 Timothy 4: 3-4
What are you searching for? Are you searching for approval? For agreement for the choices you are making? Are you searching for truth?
I have been searching. I have shared briefly over the past few years that I have really been struggling. I have wrote a lot of journal pages and wasted a lot of time scrolling on social media trying to figure out how to heal from the hurt.
My husband and I have dedicated our Saturday mornings to coffee and "discussion". My husband and I met on a missions program where we toured across Canada speaking in high schools. When you are travelling all the time stuffed inside mini vans you learn a lot about each other really quickly. After the tour we both went home to our different Provinces, thousands of kilometers apart. Our long distance phone bills were outrageous and many emails were exchanged. Our only form of building our relationship was with communication. At the time I resented it, but now I really appreciate that time because it built our relationship firmly on our ability to communicate well with each other and to express our thoughts and emotions through our words - there was no Facetime - it was a receiver, attached to a cord, that attached to the phone on the wall. Yes I am that old. I still remember the party line we shared with two of our neighbours. Don't judge.
Anyway, back to our Saturday morning coffee - we have always been able to communicate well but we weren't always making the time for it. Now we do. I have been doing a lot of journaling and reading and self exploration over the past year. I was tired of struggling and it was time to move forward. I wasn't sure how but I took the first step on the journey. Last Saturday I was sharing with Dustin about what I have learned about myself over the past few months, about the people who have come into my life at the perfect time and how I am feeling lighter. I told him that I feel like sharing about what I am learning with others but I don't feel like I have the answers yet. Dustin then told me to start sharing. He said normal people don't share publicly about their struggles as much as I do (I think that was a compliment 😁), that many struggle through things alone. He gave me example after example of times I have stepped forward to share, and how it has helped others. We talked about a time in high school english class that my class was asked to write a page about ourselves. I was so honest in that page that I ended up in weeks of appointments in the student counselling centre. 😂 Dustin then told me that I was most likely the only one to write how I honestly felt, most would have written either what they felt like should write or what the teacher was expecting of them. I chose to be honest in my writing and that has never changed because it is who I am. My book became another example of that.
In my journaling workshops I ask people to write in their journal about who they are in the dark. Who are you when you are sitting in your room in the dark, with the door closed and your phone is in another room. No one is around, no one can see you - who are you?
The last few years have been a struggle for me. I do not have the answers but I know that my healing comes from me sharing and teaching. The hurt that I experienced went deep. It hurt to the core of my being. When you are hurt by something that is tied so close to who you are, it shakes everything.
I experienced a hurt that I still haven't been able to define. I was trying to figure out how to deal with it and I didn't even know the words to search on google.
It has been largely described as "being hurt by the church", or when "Christians attack their own".
Mine came in the form that it was a message from God that I needed to hear and it was one that left me feeling rejected, abused and hurt on such a deep level.
Trust me I have experienced church hurt in the past, we have pastored in two different churches that did not end well, I have had many experiences over the years that would be described as mental abuse and shaming. I know how hurtful Christians can be to one another - Christians are sinful just like everyone else. They have selfish agendas, they struggle with jealousy, they gossip, they are searching for validation. I know this can be the person sitting in the pew, the usher at the door, the person on the music team or the person behind the pulpit. I taught a youth Sunday School class where I told them not to believe anything the pastor says in the sermon that day, but to make notes and go home and search the scriptures for the truth.
I have struggled within myself because I know these things and yet I was so very hurt and didn't know how to heal. Over the last few years I have seen a deconstruction in my faith. I still attended church, but I didn't want to be there. My Bible that was once opened regularly, with worn pages and tons of highlights and notes written in the margins now sat on a shelf gathering dust. Worship music was no longer heard in our home. I just couldn't. It felt dirty. It felt like manipulation. My life of praying without ceasing didn't exist. It became words of rejecting God and anger for all the years I had devoted to serving Him and all I received was His rejection in return. I was in a very dark place.
Yet through that time, as much as I was pushing God away, there was still a desire in me that needed to figure it all out. I didn't understand why this person said these horrible things to me. I noticed that as my faith diminished, it did in my family as well. It was as I looked at my daughters that I knew I had to start figuring this out.
When COVID became a thing and the churches were closed, I was thankful. I struggled going to church, some Sundays I would go to church and stand in a location where a lot of people would pass by and they just passed by. I had no connections there, the people I did reach out to at the time of my hurt just dismissed it. I didn't understand how deep it would affect me, so I can't blame them for not knowing either. People have always said that I am such as strong individual, but everyone struggles, some just hide it better.
As months, then years of my struggle have gone by I have asked myself a lot of questions. Today my anger towards God is less, I don't hear His small still voice like I once did, but I feel His presence. I now search for truth. That is in the scriptures. That is always where I have found my hope, joy and peace. I am going back to the scriptures to search for healing on this journey. I am thankful for the deconstruction of my faith. It has helped me to develop roots that will become my strong foundation. I still have a lot of healing to do. But after a couple of years, I am beginning to feel more like myself. I am not scared about who I am in the dark. I am ready to give it light. I am ready to share more than I need to because that is just who I am.
I am ready to take the first step on this new journey and I am ready to start sharing about what many would like to keep in the dark.