If I could sit across the table from you, sipping my Vanilla White Chocolate Mocha, I would tell you that I’m so sorry. And I would listen to your story. Your disappointment. Your hurt. Your brokenness.
I would growl a time or two as you spoke the words of pain. Church people can be so mean. And when they are that mean. . . please know that they are nothing like Jesus.
And sometimes Church People can just be stupid. Self-centered. Thoughtless. Self-seeking. Graceless. Nothing like Jesus.
I might cringe a time or two- thinking of an occasion or two or more- when I was stupid. Or unkind. Or lacking grace. I would wonder who I might have hurt- unintentionally- but hurt just the same.
I would hope that as I sat across the table I would show compassion. Much like Jesus looked at those who crossed his path. The woman at the well. The rich man. Those who needed to be healed.
And I would tell you that right now it feels like this will last forever. It won’t. One day it will be different.
Perhaps you will be sitting in a parking lot of the church office. You won’t be able to open the van door to get out and make your way into your own office. You will sit with tears streaming down your face and you will pray something like this: I love these people so much, Jesus. But you don’t know what they are saying about me. You just don’t understand. How can they say that about me? He will softly whisper, “I know. Do you know what they say about me?” The tears will dry up quick. You realize He does know.
And so you will get out of the van and walk into the office and up the stairs.
You will be told you have lost the spring in your step-that you are no longer so full of life as you once were. You will try everything you have within you to find it. You will dig deep. You will pray hard. You will fast. You will immerse yourself in Scripture. You will do all the right things. And still. This.
And you will just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One day you might find yourself at another church. Called to another job. And you will be excited and scared all at the same time. You will still guard your heart while you go on ministering. Doing what He has called you to do. As the months pass by, you might find that slowly you are beginning to let down the boundaries you built up around you. You might find that you laugh easier.
And one day as you walk down the hall you realize that you have that spring in your step again.
You won’t know when it happened. You just know it is there. You realize that you love what you do again. You find yourself pulled up to a huge table- the Pope table- at Buca’s with your team sitting around you honoring you. As you glance around the table you realize that you are completely full of LIFE again. These people. This.
And you will walk away that day realizing that you will risk your heart again for the Church People.
I would tell you that it might be a long journey of forgiveness. Or it might come quickly. That grace might flood your entire hurt in one moment. But possibly it will come slowly. One piece at a time. In unexpected ways until your heart is whole again and bursting with all the reasons you once were called to this job, this vocation, this ministry, this LIFE.
One day it will be different. Until then. . . may you find grace for each moment.