In theory, our places and communities of worship should feel safe. We want to be able to trust that the other members, and especially the leadership, will be healthy people. We hope they will hold our confidence, lift us up, support us when we are struggling, and help provide when we are lacking. We expect the church to be a refuge of kindness, care, and acceptance.
But the church is made up of people. And as imperfect people, we are capable of wounding one another. Even if the hurt isn’t intentional, we will still experience the feelings of betrayal, disappointment, anger, dismissal, sadness, and pain that result.
Church wounds can make us want to isolate, withdraw, and protect ourselves. Those wounds may even cause us to question our faith and what we believe. You might be wondering, “How can I keep pursuing my spirituality when I’ve been so hurt?” We hope that Atlanta therapy from a Christian perspective can help.
Understand Why You’re Hurting
Reflect about the wound or wounds and understand your process. Sometimes the feelings experienced can be overwhelming and it can take time to understand why you’re feeling hurt, sad, or angry.
Honoring ourselves through this exploration in therapy helps us discover and reaffirm the boundaries we need to feel safe.
The reason for your hurt may be obvious with a violation such as physical or sexual abuse, gossip, or financial mismanagement. Others may be less visible: Did you have a need that was ignored or rejected? Have you been pressured to stretch yourself thin and then shamed because you can’t give your time? Have you been told your emotions are a result of sin or not enough faith?
Discovering your hurt will help tell you what you need next.
Identify and Validate the Impact
How has the hurt impacted you? You may have lost trust, or been disappointed. You may not feel valued, worthy, or seen. You could be working through shock or disgust. Perhaps the hurt you have suffered has developed into a negative thought or belief about yourself, the world around you, or God.
Your experience is valid, and you have a right to feel however you feel about it. Naming what you’re going through can give you clarity on how to move forward. You may want to tell the offender how you feel, take a break, or leave and look for a new church. You may want to stay but challenge the way you’ve been treated.
Going to a counselor can help with the healing and recovery process. If you want prayer or scripture integrated into your therapy, look for a counselor who is familiar with your faith tradition and can provide that. If you want to continue in your spiritual journey, it can be important to have a counselor who validates your faith and can both affirm its truths about you, and give you space to process your pain. It can also be helpful to see a counselor who will fully support you in setting healthy boundaries.
If your experience leaves you wrestling with your faith, it can be important to find a counselor who can hold that with you, who won’t judge you or pressure you.
Wherever your wounds have left you, we want to reassure you that we provide competent, compassionate Atlanta therapy from a Christian perspective. Knowing how to heal when you’ve suffered pain by the church can be hard. We want to walk through this with you, wherever you are at. Call us today.