Archives For hurt

There is scene in The Lord of the Rings which Professor Tolkien felt was the pivitol moment of the book; in it, Gollum nearly repents, having been won over by Frodo’s kindness. But the well-meaning Sam interferes. Chastened by Sam’s meanness, Gollum sulks off. Following are Tolkien’s thoughts:

“For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum’s tone and aspect….His (Gollum’s) repentance is blighted and all Frodo’s pity is (in a sense) wasted. Shelob’s lair becomes inevitable” (Letter #246).”

One wonders how often this happens, e.g., when a sinner is close to repentance, but one of God’s well-meaning children interferes? More often than we’d care to admit. There will be much one day which we will have to answer for. Many surprises are in store.

Along these same lines are the all-too-often instances of when a brother, or sister (or both), are hurting, and reach out for help. Let’s say that they’re getting help, finding some measure of mentorship, of folks coming alongside them. Things are happening, God is moving.

Then the church steps in.

The church leadership. If the church is a hospital, they are its doctors facilitating a connection to the Great Physician. Not this time. Not on their rounds.

The church says “No, you can’t do it that way. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting helped, making connections. You’re not doing it under our auspices. You have to stop.”

There again, Gollum is shut down, shut out, feeling cast aside… Wondering “What did I do wrong? I thought the church was supposed to help me? Isn’t this a spiritual hospital? God was moving, my struggles were getting better. Why did you shut me down?”

Brothers and sisters this ought not to be. But it happens over and over again. 

Have you been there? You think you’re doing the right thing, reaching out, in evangelicalese getting “plugged in,” but it blows up in your face, and then crumbles into dust… Leaving you wondering why you ever did this in the first place. You’re left feeling like you’d find more camaraderie, more acceptance, down at the corner bar. At least there they won’t judge you for being a sinner seeking solace, relief, healing.

What do you do when the church fails? Where do you go?

Who has the words which bring you life? Can life be found? Is it worth trying again?

Jesus, where are You in this?

Jesus

By way of introduction to this post, there’s something tyou need to know about me. On the one hand, my childhood was quite worldly: I knew the word “motherf***er,” and had used it in a sentence by the time I was five. On the other, despite knowing the the “granddaddy of all swears,” it was quite sheltered, as I had ever heard of sex, or of “lovemaking.” No one ever had the talk with me. I found things out on my own.

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Heatwaves shimmered on the pavement as students filed onto the bus. Inside, it smelled of preadolescence–sweat and nerves and uncertainty. There were kids of all types, and stripes, on the bus that day: the self-assured, the shy, stoners, posers, jocks, and ones like the red-haired boy: latchkey–living in a single parent home, leaving everyday from an empty house, and returning to the same.

“Do you want to make love,” asked the boy of the friend beside him on the bus.

As a sixth grader, he should have known what the phrase–“make love”–meant, but he didn’t. In his mind, it–although he wasn’t certain–connoted a pact. He thought he was saying something like “Do you want to be blood brothers,” or, “Can we be best friends?” This is what he thought the phrase, make love meant–let’s make an oath.

No one had contextualized it for him. His dad checked out, and subsequently left. The boy’s mom was busy–as a counselor–healing the hurts of others, but missing those carried by her son.

It’s likely she threw herself into her work to assuage her own pain.

Oh, by this point he had seen porn, this boy, and heard the other word; he knew what “f**king” was, but made no correlation between it and lovemaking. In fact, he was quite enamored of the beauty, would soon have pictures of her on his bedroom wall.

So he said what he said on that school bus, not knowing that to “make love” was to have sex. As all he knew of sex came from magazines, videos, peers…

No one told him about the love of lovemaking–he was adrift in the sea of culture, a twelve year old De Leon, exploring these depths on his own.

Thus it was that the boy himself became the fount of the most vicious rumor about him. A question asked in innocent ignorance became a declaration:

The boy–Chad–is gay.

A queer.

A fag.

But it wasn’t true.

So Chad died a little more inside, hid himself–his true self–away. Again, no one was really there to help him navigate the murky waters of adolescence. Dad was gone, and for all intents and purposes, so was mom. Though he didn’t have the words at the time, he medicated the pain away with a drug already known to him:

Pornography.

How about you? How have you medicated your pain? How do you medicate now? How has God shown up to redeem that pain?

>big bangphoto © 2009 Pranav Yaddanapudi | more info (via: Wylio)

#FreedomFriday How Day-Age Hurt Me

     I’m of the mind that God doesn’t lie to us—neither in His Word, nor in His creation. Which is why I’m of the mind that the days referenced in Genesis are something other than 24-hour periods. I think there’s ample context for the Hebrew word, yom, in Genesis translated as “day,” throughout the rest of the Old Testament to be used to indicate longer, or indefinite, time periods. To me it doesn’t matter if the days in Genesis are literal, or figurative. The absolute rock-bottom is that God did it. The how He did it pales in comparison: God spoke, and it happened! Fact is, the God we serve has never been in a hurry. Like His work of sanctification in us is a lifelong process, so I see a progressive creation. Like a master craftsman, He (though He didn’t need to) took His time. Looking ahead to our need for fossil fuels, He made sure there would be enough dead dinos for the oil we use. Look I see it this way, something happened to the earth when Satan was cast out—it was despoiled. God wasn’t surprised by this, but cast it all into His sovereign plan (not that I understand it all), remaking the earth in the process. If you’re thinking this sounds like the Gap Theory—bingo! You win the prize. You may not agree, but that’s how I see it. And if it helps me understand my faith, who are you to say differently? (Who among is worthy to unlatch the sandals of another?) The creation event, and its timing, is not a litmus test for orthodoxy. For me, it’s real simple—take light, for instance: God created light sometime during the creation event, it travels at a particular rate, and takes x amount of time to reach the earth. Astronomers tell us that the further we look into space, the further back in time we’re going. Far be it from me to tell someone they can’t follow Christ if they don’t believe in a literal six days. Far be it from you.
     You may think this is a tempest in a teapot, but it happened to me. I was once in a close confederation with three other brothers. We had a weekly study where we dropped the masks, got real. We had fellowship and accountability. At some point, I expressed the convictions I wrote of above—and was essentially shunned. My faith was called into question. I was dis-fellowshipped. We Evangelicals don’t have excommunication, but we do have that: the dis-fellowship. These dear mean felt they could no longer maintain accountability with me. No matter my protestations that I loved Jesus as much as they, they wouldn’t hear. Our group broke up. None of the relationships ever really recovered. Oh, there was cordiality, some sharing (individually), but we never regained the same level of trust—dare I say it—the level of manly intimacy we’d built. This hurt me immeasurably. I’m still trying to find that depth of relationship, and it’s been years. Which seems like an epoch, indeed—but here I stand, so help me God: I can do no other.
     Have you been hurt been by well-meaning folks in the church? Please share in the comments. Thanks, and God bless!