Tuesday, March 10, 2020

How to Handle Growing & Shrinking

Does your church or ministry tend to grow at times and shrink at others? This talk from Reaching the Unreached 20, might help you handle this from a Biblical and historical perspective.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Broken Hearted by many paper cuts pt 2 (Healing Balm)

In part 1 (Broken Hearted by many paper cuts pt 1) I talked about the accumulative pain of wounds that appeared to others as paper cuts, but which accumulatively caused great pain. Thankfully God also gave me a variety of healing balms to sooth these cuts.

Healing Balm 1: My only hope was to consider who I was in Christ. When it seemed like so many people were against me. I felt rubbish. I’d already felt rubbish that I could no longer physically protect my wife, and couldn’t even get up and down the stairs. But the attacks now made me feel worst.  So I had nowhere to go but to focus on Christ’s imputed righteousness each day. I realised how much of my identity had been in being a strong person, and now instead my identity was growing in Christ, I needed to think more about what God thought of me.

Healing Balm 2: My marriage was better than ever. We’d had counselling for difficulties that included how hyper vigilant I’d always been, and how I was so concerned about dinner (from having my food stolen so often as a child). I’d been so impatient with my wife, and set so many rules as an attempt to create a controlled safe environment, it wasn’t kind to her. My wife would understandably react to this, and I’d get offended. Counselling had helped, but what made our marriage even closer was my wife saying, ‘I’ve seen how they’re treating you, I don’t wanna add to that.’ My wife showed me an incredible amount of support. She really pulled me through. We’ve been closer ever since. She’s an amazing women, and I’m so proud of her, and I hope that over the years I can grow in sacrificial love, and show her all that support she needs.

Healing Balm 3: We looked for new friendships, a new tribe. We needed to be with people who could speak the truth in love, not slander in hate. We needed people who understood doctrine as well as brokenness. By God’s grace we found people who welcomed us in, and showed us love. No tribe is perfect, but we learned from them how to better show love to broken people.

Healing Balm 4: I wrote songs about this, once I’ve written a song on a topic, I find it easier to move on from that thing. With the psalms and my pain guiding me, I found closure on issues I’d faced like abandonment, and weakness.

Healing Balm 5: Someone said, ‘I’m sorry, it was like a pack mentality and I got caught up in it.’ That was incredibly healing to hear. Before that I’d been so confused. Even one of our 3rd party mediators had been confused saying, ‘I don’t understand how there’s been so much animosity towards you - it doesn’t make sense?’ So I was so grateful for those kind confessional words that explained how on earth this could have happened. We can all get caught up in stuff, especially if we don’t have healthy people around us.

Healing Balm 6: I talked to a counsellor. Being able to talk in a safe environment, and get wise feedback, to hear that you’re not crazy, to hear that its normal to feel hurt. The explanation that this reminded me of bullies and abuse in school, helped me understand why the pain was so severe.

Healing Balm 7: Our kids brought me so much joy. They were so understanding and accepting when I told them about my PTSD. They've given me so many laughs, and been so supportive. I’m so thankful for them all.

Healing Balm 8: Having a mediator from our new tribe. We weren’t able to sit down with everyone. But where we could, it was calming having someone who understood brokenness and grace, and who would help everyone be heard. This taught me a better way of talking to people about difficult issues.

Healing Balm 9: Repenting of my sin. Firstly, I realised that the judgmentalism and self-righteousness we experienced, was something I had sinfully encouraged myself. I had been so critical, that this had probably rubbed off on some of the people who hurt us. ‘Judge not or you will be judged,’ well I judged, and I ended up being judged! This caused me to mourn over my sin. Secondly, after mediation, I asked what I'd done to others, that led to a build up of emotions in them, that then hit me so hard? I learned that my lack of gratitude, and my fault finding had been impacting people. I’d never considered up to that point that I impacted and hurt people like that with my voice. I said sorry to them. Since then, I find myself daily trying to die to this, and speak more like our Lord and Saviour.

Healing Balm 10: I wrote out my story. Not this story, my whole story, from childhood. But it included this story. For each point of pain, I wrote how God saw the situation. I wrote what God’s word says about the situation. This helped me reframe my story. It brought hope and healing to my story. 

Healing Balm 11: People started contacting me, saying that they’d been hurt by some of the same people who’d hurt me. What had happened to me became clearer. There was an unhealthy dynamic at play, with people acting aggressively to others, and then victim-stancing. I started studying the topic more, and realising that I’d turned a blind eye to red flags in these relationships. This understanding gave closure to my mind. Until then I’d wonder ‘well what if I’d been more like Denny, he’s so friendly, I never would have got a hard time if I’d just been more like him.’ And then you hear that people like Denny have also been cut, and you realise this is not your fault, this is the result of living in a fallen world.

Healing Balm 12: I saw how God used this to soften me. It was only when I was on the receiving end of Christians and pastors crushing my wife and I, that I realised we need to be so careful how we treat one another. Its not always a clear cut case of the bad guys (the bullies) and the good guys. All of us can use our voices in ways that really hurt people. All of us can decide we know what’s best for someone without properly listening to them. All of us can gossip about friends, without realising the consequences. All of us can get defensive in an angry way, instead of listening to our brothers and sisters tell us how we’ve hurt them. I realised how easy it is for a bruised reed to be crushed. I determined to not crush others. Since then, I’ve felt softer in the way I treat people. I’m sure there’s lots more room for growth, but I feel a tangible difference within my approach to people. I pray that it lasts and grows.

Healing Balm 13: I recently talked to a friend about all these paper cuts. I’d kept it secret for years, and was hurting. My friend listened, and afterwards I felt like a load had been lifted off my shoulders. I realised that I couldn’t let unrepentant people silence my voice. I would have loved to tell a story where everyone kissed and made up, but I waited years for that, and only two people said sorry. I’m so thankful they did, I’m so sorry for how my sins partly led them to this. I wish for their sakes I didn’t have to ever tell this story at all. But I know that for my healing, and for the healing of others who need a nudge to tell their story, I have to type out these words. 

So, thanks for listening to my story. Maybe like me, you’ve been hurt too. Maybe you’ve been told to have thicker skin, and to be silent about it. But God cares about your story (Ps 56:8). Maybe write down your story and tell him? Maybe tell your story to a friend who’ll listen? If you’re stuck, you can tell me and I’ll listen.