Written By: Varina Denman
Admittedly, I take the church for granted. I’ve been at worship three times a week since birth, and I’ll be there till they wheel my casket up the aisle. For me, the church is life. It’s breath. It’s nourishment.
But it’s also pain. We’re always harder on those we love, and in my lifetime, I’ve seen way too many bad/sad/mad things happen among Christians. I’ve seen believers ostracized for their sins, ridiculed for their weaknesses, and gossiped for everything under the sun. All in the name of Christ.
And I’ve been hurt.
There was the time church work was pushed on my husband and me, even though our marriage was struggling. There was the time a family member’s parenting skills were scrutinized because of the behaviour of their teenage child. There was the time family members were ridiculed because of their convictions on social issues.
But it all started when I was much younger, at the age when I first became aware of my appearance. Like most adolescent girls, I felt insecure in my skin, and I worried about make-up and clothing. Boys began to figure into this concern, and I struggled to balance my need-to-be-noticed with the Christian values my parents had taught me.
Good girls wore this and not that. Bad girls wore that and not this. I thought I was getting it right, until one of the deacons looked at me from head to toe and made a disgusted face at my clothing or my make-up or my body … or me.
Yes, the church hurts. And I include myself in that accusation. I don’t always say or do—or even think—the right thing. In fact, twenty-five years later as I walked into worship, I caught myself scrunching my nose at two teenage girls in short dresses, and I realized
Christians don’t always act like Christ.
But there’s a reason for that. Duh. We’re not Him. We’re human, and we’re a mess. As long as there are people in the church, there will be problems, but we’re trying. It’s true we’re harder on those we love, but the fact is, we DO love. We just love imperfectly.
The Lord’s church is all about forgiveness, and we give each other plenty of practice. We hurt each other, we forgive each other, we love each other. We strive to love like Christ, but not until we get to heaven, will we finally get it completely right. And to tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to that day.
Varina writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her three-book Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Her passion is helping others make peace with their life situations.