“I love Jesus. I just have a problem with His followers.”

group of sheep at the field

Lest I be guilty of a bait and switch I need to say this before anyone reads any further…this is probably not the post you think it is going to be. Because I do not agree (anymore) with the title of my post. I have heard this sentiment (or some variation) many, MANY, times. I used to say it (or some variation of it) myself. Over a decade ago I stopped calling myself a Christian and said instead that I was a ‘believer’, to distance myself form Christians. When I first stumbled upon this famous quote by Ghandi– I loved it! I felt justified:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” (Mahatma Gandhi).

Again: please note: such sentiments grieve me now.

Back when I relished such statements–back when I regularly made them myself, I was not fully understanding who Christ was, or what He did, or His huge, grace-filled, heart for His church/Christians. Oh, I have understood that, in my head, since childhood. But save for one near-death experience in my youth that started a born again process in my heart; it has taken years to truly thaw my frozen heart. And all the while my heart was thawing, I kept looking to other humans, or my own works and personal operating system.

I am not saying I have it all figured out now. Nope. Just that I think I have come far enough in healing from sexual abuse that I am starting to root out the bitterness (toward the church–one of my abusers was a protestant minister) that had me agreeing with, and repeating, such sentiments.

I am also a student of scripture. And as strong as my feelings/emotions and damaged neurological development may be on a certain subject, when I keep seeing the truth written plainly, over and over in The Word, eventually I come around.

The Bible is clear that if you love Jesus Christ, you WILL love His church; because He loves His church. See this list of Bible verses about Jesus’ love for His bride–the church, for proof. (The list isn’t exhaustive.)

It isn’t about us–it is about Him. We aren’t gods in our own rights; God is God. Of course we aren’t like Christ. That’s the entire point. There was only one of Him. No one else’s death and resurrection could ever be powerful enough to save the ENTIRE world (if they but repent of their sins and turn to Him in belief). People who are looking around at the church (filled with human beings) for something which only Jesus can offer them (healing, restoration, salvation…) are missing the point of it all. They will be disappointed. Every. Single. Time.

At times I still fall back into the trap. Because it was humans who damaged me, I still want it to be humans who undo that damage. But I know now that such thinking leads to disappointment, addictions, resentment, unmet expectations, and a host of other ents and ions which make life, marriage, and close relationships, HARD.

When I attended a Christian event expecting the people there to meet my needs (without even fully realizing that’s what I was doing) I came away angry, and justified that my beef with God’s people was…justified. “Everyone there wants to just ‘fix’ me!”  I lamented to my husband.

Yup. Some sure do. It happens. I don’t know why. Maybe they are codependent (though I dislike labels and psychobabble!). Maybe they aren’t quite sanctified themselves. Maybe I have a note on my forehead that says ‘I am bitter at the church, and I have a right to be, and you can be the one to take that away from me if you play your cards right’.  Maybe they have the same thing wrong with them that I have with me and they are mirroring things they want to hear from others. Or, maybe, God is urging them to try and help me heal. Either way, I see now that at times I can benefit from such attempts, if I lean in and ask pointed questions…Other times I have the power to detach and not react to off-based attempts. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of how not to treat other people.

And so it happened again today. After church a woman in my small group interrupted me mid-sentence (she displays some ADHD tendencies–no biggie to me though, I have similar issues!), presumed my motive behind my explanations to a book I was recommending, took what I said about my son out of context, and then told me that she wanted to pray over me and heal me of my doubting, my reactiveness, and my need to apologize for myself.

Yeah. I do all those things. Even though I wasn’t exactly doing them in that moment; the shoe still fit! I also like this woman a lot. She is strange and lovely and childlike and willing to say things that others who are too…. aware of themselves and how they are coming across… would never utter; all of which I adore in another. So I bowed my head and gave her my hands and made myself ready to receive her ministry over me.

By this time we had meandered outside on a busy sidewalk and it was there, in public, that I let her do her thing. She’s a prophet-type of personality who believes she hears from God regularly; I’d gathered that much in the short time I’ve known her. I’d been praying for her since I met her, as we had an immediate connection and my husband and I talked regularly about her, by name.

So when she assumed a prayerful position over me, but then paused and asked, ‘now what’s your name again?’ I felt a sting of rejection. The old insecurities rose up and threatened to take over. The old wounded me, most certainly, would have been lit to the moon; just by that alone. But I want to love Jesus’ church, for His sake if nothing else. And love isn’t ignorant, it doesn’t turn a blind eye; but it does understand. And I knew she was prone toward spaciness, that she had just met an entire group of new people, that my traumatized brain often forgets things as basic as why I just walked into a room. So I gently repeated my name (again).

In her prayer she told me I had been under-appreciated since birth. (Yup.) And that I had a good deal of anger inside of me, but that a good deal of it was…she paused… righteous. (Yup to the anger and good to know it isn’t all bad…). Then she said God wants to give me a new word to replace the word unappreciated….and after a short pause she excitedly said, “Surprising! That’s your word! Because you are surprising and you love surprises and God wants to give you surprises.”

Sure seems I have been given my ‘word for 2019.’ It’s a lot better than unappreciated, and a whole lot better than what I had felt was my word for 2018: abandonment.

She finished the prayer by telling me my heart had been healed and that I would no longer be plagued by reactiveness and self doubt. (or something like that). I just smiled and nodded. Being healed didn’t feel much different than prior. It still doesn’t.

Yet I can’t stop thinking about the word she gave me: surprising. Or the fact that if I believe that I had a real victory; it will become more real. If I doubt it; it won’t.

Right after the prayer I said something which she again presumed meant something else than what I’d said. Instead of asking me what I had meant by it, she said something that belied that she was insecure and doubting HERSELF.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I laughed because, again, you can’t make this stuff up! It also proves that if I take the veracity of this message based upon its deliverer…I will shoot holes all over it; I will be like Gandhi, admiring Christ but shunning Christians, and I will not have the victory that God is trying to give me. The victory is somehow tied up in embracing and loving the flawed vessels through which it is coming.

I saw me; when I looked at her. Boy, did I ever see me.

So I dropped all proper etiquette and playfully cried out “Aha? What’s that? Are you doubting yourself? Did you even listen to what you just told ME about not apologizing for yourself, about not being reactive and about not doubting?” “Physician heal thyself!” I quoted, as I blew her an air kiss. By this point she was getting into her vehicle and I in mine. I saw her laughing and shrugging her shoulders.

It doesn’t always go like that. I’ve received healings and advice before. But I’ve never had the hutzpah to repeat it right back to the one fixing me. This is a new development. But looking back on it all, the greatest moment of intimacy between us as well as the greatest feeling I had of being healed, was when I cheekily quoted her the proverb Physician heal thyself

Well, after that, we went out for lunch. Whereupon God gave me a surprise when I ran into one of my abusers and his wife. They acted fake-happy to run into me. But I intentionally ignored them; as I am trying to maintain no contact. (And some of them make it difficult by showing up in public places at the same time as me; or by sending me cards, etc.) Noticing that I had turned on my heel and walked the other way, the wife gave me lip, claiming I was being uppity. I swung back around and told her that since her husband is a child abuser, he ought to be in jail– not going out for lunch– and so of course I am going to ignore you!

They left in a huff. Her mutterings sounding like something my mother might say, and has said to me a few times too.

I ate my food with shaking fingers. Then shook for a bit after we got home.

Ordinarily a day like this would have wrecked me for weeks. Luckily ‘I’ve been healed now‘, by Jesus, of course. He just happened to work through a woman who seems to be just as fragile and broken as I am.

The End.

 

Author: justsaltwriter

Life has given me clearer skies and much better mental health. Therefore I felt it was time to overhaul my blog. Some old posts remain, as do a few followers. Other posts may be revived in the future. Thanks for being there for me while I walked through the fog of abuse. ❤️

9 thoughts on ““I love Jesus. I just have a problem with His followers.””

  1. Wow this was such an incredible post and I just want to say first off that I am sorry that were abused but I admire your courage by sharing it because I know it is going to help a lot of people who have been through the same trauma.

    I know for me; I had my share of trauma; my brother died when he was 14 and I was so angry at God; I hated him and over time I grew to hate Christians. I thought God was total bs and if he existed; he certainly didn’t care. But one day I felt him speak to me and my life has been on a different positive spiritual path ( some peaks and valleys here and there) I struggle with the church portion because God to me is so personal to me; I just feel as connected in a sanctuary full of 200 so people. But I am learning to love church and try and to be a part of that community. Again I so admire your courage especially in the face of confronting your abusers. I hope 2019 is blessed year for you!

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    1. Oh wow, thanks for the encouragement. That means a lot coming from you as I also admire YOUR work and am a fan of your courage!!
      I am so sorry for your brother’s loss. I appreciate you being so open and sharing your journey. We seem to be on a similar wave length regarding church. I am working toward being back in strong community but it is hard. I find myself still ‘reacting’ a lot. But, I’m also really enjoying it as well as I love people, especially quirky ones and the church is full of those ❤️

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  2. I think you have such humility. I don’t understand how you didn’t react and just storm off when she couldn’t even remember your name. I would have felt so hurt by her. You are such an inspiration to me. An example of the person I could become.
    I need to get some regular BIBLE reading done. Thanks again!!!!

    Happy New Year JS !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you too– LL!

      I am not sure I deserve the praise, but THANKS.

      I don’t write very much about the culture where I am from — don’t want to narrow down my address that much. Suffice it to say that folks are often all up in one another’s business to an annoying degree. Therefore I developed this expression to stave off gossiping: ‘I care; but I really don’t care!’
      Meaning, if I hear someone is, say, having marital issues, I do CARE, and give me an opportunity and I”ll sit and pray with whoever and hand out love and a tissue. But I have to intentionally remind myself that I ‘really don’t care’ about gossip or what’s making its rounds on the rumor mill, etc. otherwise I get sucked in and hate myself in the morning.

      So, in light of the nosy culture where I live, this woman not remembering my name, in hindsight, was actually one of the things I liked about her. It told me she hadn’t spent the past week creeping me on social media accounts or asking around about me.

      She doesn’t care; yet she cares.

      I encounter plenty of local folks who know exactly who I am, have heard and believed all the rumors, have creeped my social media profile and all that, but couldn’t give a rip about ME whatsoever, and would never spontaneously pray over me on a sidewalk.

      Anyway, I love your heart and we are so much alike and so I am going to encourage you to be kind to yourself–you, like me, are much further along than you realize (I often think I’m ‘behind’ on the recovery path, it’s all part of being in recovery form the kind of unacceptable CRAP we are in recovery from, UGH).
      So I believe you would have done something similar and perhaps even better than I did in that moment!! Given her personality, combined with the dynamic in the church we had just walked out of (she was being made fun of by a few others who like to remain more ‘buttoned up’), well, those were also factors in why I didn’t act out on my slighted feelings.

      Either way, she ‘nailed it’ as far as ‘diagnosing me’–all true points. And I love my new word for 2019, LOL

      Here’s to being surprised in 2019! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I agree with you that I would have outwardly done nothing to show my hurt. Inwardly, I would have felt wounded that someone would have forgotten me. That said, I can see how you made an excellent re-frame! It IS good to escape people’s gossip and negativity. My social circle just isn’t that wide. I am not exempt from scorn and judgment especially where I often hold strong views.

        I like your new word too! Here’s to being surprised!! 😀

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      2. Ay-yes, gotcha. I still feel wounded six or seven times, before lunch, on the usual day. I think the thing is that I no longer react so much to the feeling. Part of why I got so very sick (anxiety/PTSD so bad I couldn’t leave the house for months) — is that any little slight sent me reeling; adding stress to the stress; ‘oh no, I’m in pain again’ type of thing; I camped out on it and believe ‘the sky was falling’. Once you get yourself to that stress level; everything flares you.
        in time the stress lowered and I had better abilities to ‘regulate’.
        These days I let myself feel wounded; I know where it is coming from (childhood abandonment and abuse); and accept that it is just a part of me. I know that I bruise easily–I am aware I have this giant weak spot that is easily affected by others; and I am gentle with myself because of it (that was/is an ongoing process). So the feeling remains; but I accept it better now. Thousands (and thousands) of dollars in therapy ought to buy a person some progress somewhere, right?? LOL

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      3. My apologies JSW,
        I never saw this thoughtful and might I add brilliant comment. I have also spent thousands of dollars in therapy and understand at the intellctual level the etiology of my own thin-skinnedness. I think for me there is a deeper character flaw and sin of stubbornness and willfulness. I have thus far refused to allow myself to sit with the woundedness and refused to allow the any acceptance to wash over me that I am truly “broken.” Even as I write posts about being broken there has always been another compartmentalized piece of me which believes the opposite; that this is total Hoo-hah. This….boils down to control issues and feelings of powerlessness which gets triggered when someone hurts me.

        These “ control issues” of mine boil down to one simple act; my submission to Jesus Christ. God can heal this wounded broken part of me. I believe that my spiritual bankruptcy has been the linchpin and impediment to me getting well.

        I need to submit to Him and serve Him and the rest will be cake. Amen, Amen.

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      4. Oh, no biggie, I haven’t spent much time on here the past few days so no need to apologize. I need to re-read your comment as I think you are on to something huge there. And I feel so so similar. My therapist is always forcing me to sit with emotions. She says I ‘tend to analyze a lot’ rather than staying in the emotions.
        Ugh. So yeah, I think we are near the same in that regard and so I totally relate.
        I also feel my key to healing lies in total submission to Christ. Amen!

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