Friday, January 28, 2011
Hurting One Another
Throughout the days, I watch and listen to see what would be good topics to write. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a bit of a schedule. On Monday I write about people for history who have done amazing things for the faith. Wednesday I write about people from my life either past or present who have helped me along the journey to holiness. Thursday I do a quote from the Bible or a fellow Christian who has made it to print. On Friday’s, I try to write about my walk in faith. As is typical, writing about me is a bit harder. A friend thought I should write about egotistical people, but really, I would have to write about myself with this one. I don’t think I want to go there just yet. On the way back from dropping my son off at school, a topic that is near and dear to my heart was being discussed on the radio.
Throughout the ages, vulnerable people have been hurt by their “church.” As a child, I watched parishioners tear gaping wounds in one minister’s family causing the church to bleed from gossip and ridicule. That minister and his family only lasted a short time. I have watched PKs (preacher’s kids) raked over the coals because for some reason they were held to a much higher standard than the rest of us kids. My heart always ached because my father wouldn’t go to church because “I won’t sit in the same pew as that hypocrite.” I can’t understand how Christians can be so mean spirited though I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit I have been mean spirited myself at times. I still struggle when I watch people I care about fall away from their faith due to the actions of others.
The other day I heard a quote. It went something like this. “Hospitals are for sick people and churches are for sinners.” Every single person who walks in the doors of a church whether it is the piano player, minister, priest, deacon, or common lay person is a sinner. It isn’t our church that hurts us; it is the people in the church. We have all hurt someone along the way whether we realize it or not. We are human; we are sinners. I have been very blessed with the current church I attend. I can’t think of one person I don’t consider a Christian in good standing. Or should I say drives me crazy because they are so tarnished or have hurt me. However, that can’t be said for my entire journey.
Marrying outside a denomination has to be one of the most potential times of pain. Twenty-two years ago I collected a number of hurts while going through the process of marrying a young Catholic man. I at the time was protestant. As I have mentioned before, my family didn’t attend church, so I went to any church people would invite me too. I attended The Church of God from the years of about first grade through eighth grade and The Christian Church during high school. However, during all this time, I had very strong Catholics in my life. I attend Midnight Mass, Searches, and I watched many friends be confirmed in the church. I always loved the history, tradition, and rituals of the Catholic Church. I also knew we would raise our children Catholic because of my husband’s family. They were very strong in the Church. I was finally going to have a family to attend church with. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that easily.
While working with a priest and a minister, hurtful things were said of us and our faiths. I still thank God that both my husband and I realized it was the people being hurtful and not the church. Being stubborn, we persisted. We found a minister who while growing up had been raised in five different faiths. His parents were church hoppers. While attending an Engaged Encounter, a different priest worked with us along with an older married couple. These Christians were very loving and helped us through the marriage process. For a couple of years, we attended both churches until my heart lead me to become Catholic. I still love the protestant in me which will never leave, but I also love the Catholic I have become. The hurt remained for many years. Other hurts happened. I am sure there will be more hurts for we are human sinners who mess up. But, I will never stop attending church. It is critical to my successful journey to holiness.
I am fortunate to live in a community with four Catholic churches all very different in their atmospheres. I get a choice. Many people don’t have a choice because they live in small communities with only one option. I have been in this situation a number of times. It can be very difficult to attend church when the priest/minister doesn’t fit your needs. One priest we had rarely moved my spirit, but we didn’t miss church much. We did try once a month to go to the next town over for a spiritual refill. There are options out there we just have to explore.
I will admit; I have stopped attending different functions because of hurtful actions. Many years ago, I attended a Cursillo weekend. For the next year, I tried very hard to become a part of the group, but I always felt like an outsider. I didn’t fit. Of course, this could have been because of the people or it very well could have been me because I struggle during social/group activities. So I stopped going. Three years ago, my husband drug me back to Cursillo. And yes, he DRUG me. In the time I was away, I changed and some of the people changed. I still struggle at times with fitting in, but I pray harder during these times. I have been blessed by finding a 4th Day Group (Bible Study Group), going to meetings, and serving on the teams. Yet it hasn’t been easy.
Have you been hurt by fellow Christians? How have you handled the situation? My prayer is that we will no longer hurt each other, but we are sinners. It is bound to happen. But hold on to your faith, and don’t let others turn you away from your faith activities.
Blessing to you all.