I often found myself wrestling with a question: where does a Christian leader turn to when they are struggling with dysfunction? Where do we go when we are soul-sick and need a soul doctor? Where do we find a safe place to talk about our dark stories? Is it the Church?
"To be fully known and fully loved was and is more liberating than any strategy we had ever employed to combat the unwanted behaviors killing our marriage.”
When our dysfunction was exposed, in the church, it was the Church, my very own congregation, that extended its nurturing arms of healing towards my husband and me. We were like soldiers battered by war, fragile and on the brink of hopelessness; but it was the Church that emerged as our most trusted, secure, and supportive refuge, guiding us on our path to recovery.
As Jesus trained his leaders, he first transformed their perspective and attitudes. Starting from the inside out. Remember that fateful day in the synagogue when Jesus announced His earthly mission as He read Isaiah 61 essentially providing the blue print for healing culture in the Church, “…The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…” Ongoing healing and wholeness within the safety of the Church and her local gatherings is transformative. This truth underscores Jesus’ life-giving message of goodness. And it illustrates His mission and core values.
Through the continual and generous grace of our church community and the saving love of Jesus; day by day we sustained the emotional strength and staying power we needed to continually surrender to our complex, complicated and painful healing journey. Slowly, but surely our God-given human dignity was restored, as well as an intentional commitment to steward it. It was good for us to receive this much needed mercy from the Church as it cancelled the lie that as leaders we were not allowed or supposed to need as much mercy as we so desperately needed.
"Disarming shame and self-contempt were difficult parts of this raw and redemptive journey, yet one of the most essential elements for healing.”
When we discovered one of the keys to wholeness was an honest reckoning with our brokenness we gratefully, albeit cautiously, stopped pouring energy into constructing an outer image we thought made us seem OK in the eyes of our church. We chose instead to fall to our knees at the merciful feet of Jesus who granted us full access to Himself. To be fully known and fully loved was and is more liberating than any strategy we had ever employed to combat the unwanted behaviors killing our marriage.
Disarming shame and self-contempt were difficult parts of this raw and redemptive journey, yet one of the most essential elements for healing. We both had to go to the valley of the shadow of death and do so with kindness for genuine healing and joy to flourish. There was no way to avoid the valley where we told our stories of heartache, trauma, and abuse. All the emotions we had stuffed and kept hidden needed to surface and be felt. We experienced the painful emotions of hopelessness, sorrow, and grief within the safety of our church.
Today we have a mission to share our humble walk and vulnerabilities, both past and present and invite leaders within the church to do the same. Isaiah 61 is the compass we use to guide this ministry (truenorth406.org) and to facilitate healing that restores our original beauty and dignity, regardless how messy the starting point. It is through a healing culture within the Church we can follow Jesus into all levels of healing to become the priests, prophets, and kings we are.