“How are you?” “Great, how are you?” “Yea, I’m good, too.” Every Sunday morning, interchanges like this are spoken a zillion (indescribably large number) times. Unfortunately, a lot of times, things aren’t “great, good, or fine.” I’ve spoken to many people who told me they were afraid to talk to anyone at church for several years as a problem escalated until the details couldn’t be hidden anymore. Unfortunately, problems only get worse when unattended. It’s amazing to me how often we hide the truth from each other, especially since the people we’re hiding from might be able to pray, listen, guide, or connect us to services or care to help our situation. So many times, someone has opened up to me in church, not knowing I am a psychiatrist, and I was able to care for or connect them to care for their troubled situation. Other times someone else in the church that they opened up to, referred them to me. Embarrassment, shame, pride, fear…that’s what Satan uses to keep the body from uniting and working together. Don’t let this happen to you. We weren’t made to handle and accomplish everything on our own…we were made to work on teams…marriage, family, employers, church, community, extended family, etc.
Today, think about how you will respond tomorrow (and every Sunday/day in church). If you are the one asking “how are you?” then really be an attentive listener to allow the person a place to be open. If you are the recipient of the question, maybe something like, “well, the week has been a little tough, can I vent a little to you, or can you direct me to someone who can listen and help?”
If you are in a church that will not be compassionate toward your issue and will judge and avoid you, get out of that church to one that will care for you. If what you are doing is wrong, don’t look for the church to condone it, but they should be able to love, care for, and support you to help you make better choices. Click here to share your experiences and perspective with other readers on this issue of transparency at Church.
Dear Father, thank you so much for your unconditional love and forgiveness for all my problems and actions. Please help me speak up and share my burden with others and open my ears to the guidance and wisdom you provide through your humble and wise servants. Help me discern good counsel and follow it. I want connection and help, but I choke at the opportunity to speak up. Encourage me thru Your Spirit to not be ashamed or afraid to expose and ask for help. I pray in Christ’s all revealing name and work, and all God’s people said, AMEN!
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
This is a great devotional for me. After years of feeling inexplicable, gut-wrenching emotional pain, I read a book that described what I was experiencing in detail. The book was recommended to me by a female research doctor who happens to also be a lesbian. Given my fairly conservative background, it was an unusual event for me to take up a recommendation from someone of that background. She has a very strong compassion for women who have a very specific hurt: victims of sexual molestation. I originally read the book so I could be a good witness and learn about those kinds of people, and be a good help to them.
I have NEVER, in 30+ years of sitting in a church listening to sermons, in a variety of denominational and non-denominational settings, run into this topic. Sexual molestation happens inside and outside of the church. Innocent children have no way of keeping their memories straight, because their brain works overtime to surpress them. Whenever I tried to explore this topic for myself with others, they either came from a background of telling someone their memory was false, or they had no training whatsoever in how to help a person come to grips with this issue. I now understand the key to my relentless pain was due to many surpressed, too awful to describe, childhood memories.
So to not go too long here, I identify with what the devotional is writing, but church is NOT a safe place for me to share about this issue. Fortunately I have different professionals, and support groups where I can talk about this issue. I am very happy for people who can talk about their pain with others in church. This devotional came from a compassionate perspective, I think it is a great goal for folks in church to open up to one another, and not think too highly of themselves. Thank you for this topic.
thanks for your openness and honesty. i agree, the church has a hard time understanding and dealing with some significant psychological issues especially when abuse, addictions, homosexuality, amongst other things, are involved. this was one of the several reasons i started Lighthouse Network, to educate the christian/church community about these particular issues, so the church could be better agents of healing for those in need. also i wanted those who struggled to know they are not alone, other christians struggle with these issues, and professional services are helpful and it is ok to "outsource" to good professionals with expertise and sound biblical knowledge to help administer God's healing. Being a compassionate listener is a valued commodity these days.