they’re waiting

Posted: March 29th, 2010 | Filed under: life | 14 Comments »

I’ve watched people get kicked out of church. I’ve heard of police involvement, restraining orders and men posted at the entrances to keep certain people out. I’ve watched the work of these people get dismantled and removed. It doesn’t even feel safe to mention their name. It’s as though they never existed.

Do you ever wonder what happened to these people?

Too many don’t and they don’t care.

There are so many questions. You hear of their sin and see the Gestapo-like response and then…nothing. People don’t have time to connect with the person before they’re kicked out. By the time they’re gone, the questions are mounting and the possible answers are scary. You wonder how long they’ve been lying, how they were able to be so convincing at church and then you get disgusted with such hypocrisy. The assumption is that what you hear must pale in comparison to what you don’t hear. And you don’t want to hear. That’s where anger is born. Bitter resentment at the audacity of irreverence and disrespect.

The anger boils and rises and begins to cloud everything. You’re hurt, disappointed and the thought of them carrying out their sin is so offensive it makes your stomach turn. And it all makes you more angry. The roller coaster of emotions is enough take over and you decide it’s time to do something. You have to let it go.

Here’s what you do: you take the visual you have of the person, the last thing you have in your heads, and you abort their life. Then you focus on the things that make it easier to mourn them. You visit the morgue in your minds with the mangled body under the sheets. You don’t want to see them, not like that, so you focus on who they were. So much potential. Such a promising life. Great voice…great leader. A shame.

If you have to kill someone in your mind in order to move on, then you’re not doing it right.

That’s why you don’t know what to do when you see them in public. It’s like seeing a ghost.

Do you want to know what happened to these people?

I can’t speak for all of them, but I can speak for those who are like me. I was one of them. And there are a lot of us.

When a person’s sin sends an earthquake rippling through their life, it’s always a shock. Sin is selfish. By the very nature, they’re not thinking about how their choices will affect others. So, when they watch the earthquake rip through their lives, they’re in no condition to be able to stand watching what it’s done to yours and the others. It makes them feel helpless against the torrent and the blood on their hands makes them scream in fear. It’s not just their blood, it’s everyone else’s too.

This is a foreign situation for them. You can’t expect someone to behave ‘normal’ when they’re in a situation that is not normal. Erratic behavior should be expected.

When you’re going through your pain, you can lean on God, innocence and each other. They can’t lean on innocence, they’ve lost everyone and they can’t even go to the main place where they used to connect with God. They are lost, alone and terrified. They don’t reach out to you because they’re afraid. They don’t reach out to God because they’re ashamed and the people who have always represented God to them have kicked them out. In essence, they’ve been kicked out in the name of God. Turning to Him takes more faith than they’ve ever had to use in their lives.

The healing process is long, painful and lonely. The only voice of reason is a still small voice in their spirit. They’re undergoing intense training and spiritual therapy by a Presence more real to them now than He ever was before. There are many stages where they are full of hope one minute and full of sorrow the next. A happy trip to the grocery store with the family can end in tears when an old church friend physically bumps them and keeps walking without saying a word.

The graceless behavior of other Christians can send them falling backward for days. It’s throwing rocks at a gaping wound that’s still bleeding.

The sobs are  eventually hushed by an overwhelming Presence of tenderness and love. It’s the feeling of being sang to. Like a child. The Presence of grace becomes stronger in those moments, as if to say, ‘What they’re doing is not me. What you feel now, that’s me.’ He teaches them the difference so, one day, you can’t hurt them anymore. You have left His agenda when you stand against His fallen.

You have to leave the door open.

The wounded need medicine. One of the most wounded is the one who set the fire. They were closest to it when it erupted. When you’re tending to the blistered bystanders, you have to send your best doctors to the one you ‘can’t recognize anymore.’ They don’t believe they can make it, they see their damage and they don’t see the light. You have to show them the light. Not in a way that pounds in their stupid mistakes. The light you carry is like flashlight in the dark, you can only illuminate one thing with your presence. Their sin or His grace. You don’t tell a person how sick they are while you’re trying to tell them they can survive their sickness. What do you want your life pointing to?

Anger is normal. But, if you walk away from someone who fell you’re killing them. If they can’t go to their church, where are they supposed to go?  You’re their family. Whether they die or not is not the point, because you left them for dead. If they can’t start fresh with you, then what does that say about you?

You can’t let sin govern your response. That would be responding to sin, not Jesus. You’ve been through enough training to be able to recite the Truth. Let everything Jesus came to accomplish be put on display when the situation is real. The real world is your exam room, real situations are your tests. You show what you know when the situation gets real.

If you’ve messed this up with someone, then I challenge you to make it right. I promise, they’re waiting.



14 Comments on “they’re waiting”

  1. 1 Tracey said at 11:52 am on March 29th, 2010:

    WOW! This is sooo real!

    "The light you carry is like flashlight in the dark, you can only illuminate one thing with your presence. Their sin or His grace?"

    That statement hit me in the core of my spirit! Having experienced the brutal pain of a great sin and the healing presence of His grace, I can tell you this is what we all need to hear. We – Christians, Believers – are supposed to operate in the spirit of reconciliation. Sadly, so many of us don't. Thank you for posting this…what a wonderful point of grace to hide in my heart and meditate upon.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 12:02 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    I'm glad you like it, Tracey. And, you're right. People do need to hear this. 🙂

  3. 3 Joanie said at 1:49 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    I love this blog!!! I agree, everyone needs to hear this. We should have compasion and love for people regardless of their situation. It may not be easy to understand their situation, but be there for them like God is there for us!!! Thanks for this post : )

  4. 4 Serena Woods said at 2:00 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    Thanks, Joanie!

  5. 5 m* said at 4:02 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    finding posts from you is like coming upon a hidden patch of berries just ripe for the eating

    every juicy thought

    each sweet sentence

    and there's enough here for everyone

  6. 6 Holly said at 4:19 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    powerful post! too true… what to do if a church goer turns out to be a child molester (of his own kids)–and he wants to return to church (he is currently in jail)… past behavior indicates an unwillingness to change on his part, but Jesus does say to forgive 70 x 7 times… It's just a hard situation when it involves hurting children, and especially when there are children in our church whose parents would be (understandably) leery of this man attending church services… Would like to know your thoughts on this… thanks!

  7. 7 me, incognito said at 4:42 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    I've posted here before, but tonight I am posting anonymously because I am wondering about people who do something that violates an innocent. You hear about priests who molest children, pastors, deacons… yes I know that they need grace too, but here the line for me is blurry…

    I no longer wish for my molester to burn in hell… therapy taught me awhile back the very thing you spoke of several days ago… but the truth is I PRAY I NEVER SEE THAT MAN AGAIN. I hope he receives grace, and finds forgiveness. I have forgiven him, but I don't ever want to face him. I can't. Am I wrong here?

  8. 8 Serena Woods said at 5:20 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    Thanks, M*. 🙂

    Holly: Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 give the steps a community should take when they are dealing with this type of 'scandalous' sin that 'even the world can't stomach.' There are steps to be taken before he's 'kicked out.'

    The law removes predators from society so that they can be rehabilitated (theoretically, but that's another topic) and then they are given another chance to be functioning members of society.

    If they are removed from the community, it is supposed to be for 'rehab' so they can come back. The difference between the church and the rest of the world is that the church should 'keep no record of wrongs.'

    All easier said than done, but that's the scriptural reference for you.

    incognito: You can post as whoever you want around here. 😉

    No, you're not wrong. You are where you are. Don't force something. If you have to face that giant in your life, it won't happen until you're 'ready' (whether you think you are or not at the time.) When it happens, you've got a big Guy running next to your bike, just in case you hit a rock you can't handle.

  9. 9 me, incognito said at 12:51 am on March 30th, 2010:

    Thank you, Serena.

    I appreciate your thoughts , they make so much sense. I have had some "friends" tell me I hadn't truly forgiven him if I couldn't carry a conversation with him and act like nothing had happened. Some well meaning counselors who told me I needed forgiveness for the "relationship"… and still other friends who think I'm crazy for not taking him to court to see him rot in jail. I don't want any of that. Through finally getting some great Christian biblical counsel I was able to forgive him.

    I was able to stop wishing for all manner of evil things to befall him, because it was through God's grace, that I was finally able to see where this man was most likely facing demons that he may not have felt he could talk to anyone about, and therefore was possibly trapped in his own sickness… Being able to see things from a different perspective helped me to forgive and move on. I would be lying to say that its easy. It isn't. In the beginning I made a conscious choice to forgive even though I didn't feel it.

    There are times when something will trigger a kind of "flashback" and when that happens I again find myself saying " I forgive" I don't believe he needs to be forgiven again for the same things I've already forgiven him for, but sometimes I do find I need to say it.

  10. 10 Jason said at 3:58 am on March 30th, 2010:

    "You hear of their sin and see the Gestapo-like response and then…nothing."

    Wow…do I know that all too well. When my sin came to light while in ministry it was if I was dead. I'm told they still can't mention my name in the halls at the ministry I worked with because of what happened TEN years ago.

    My horrific sin? Porn. Then again, a lot of folks would want to consider me dead if I had that same problem now.

  11. 11 m* said at 4:52 am on March 30th, 2010:

    dear me, incognito:

    if i may …

    perhaps it is helpful to examine what those without a new heart could do/would do …

    their behavior would constitute acts of unforgiveness – evil for evil

    i instead read that you have made another choice, a better choice, a higher choice in a direction directly opposite of retribution

    a choice that is only available to one that themselves has received forgiveness

    it is only possible to give that which you yourself have

    and you will have more and more because you are now living in the right direction

    Galations 6 says …

    1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

    4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

    6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

  12. 12 Serena Woods said at 5:09 am on March 30th, 2010:

    incognito: I don't know if you know anything about my life, but I grew up with a lot of different people with a lot of demons. I see people as hurt kids. I see what they do and can follow it down to something in their childhood. You're miles beyond most if you can consider that he was a hurt kid, too.

    It's encouraging. 🙂

    Jason: It's interesting that we can all have a conversation about 'What would they do if we just showed up?' and semi-laugh at the possible expressions on their faces. The truth is, they wouldn't be able to handle it, so in order to not be a distraction, we stay away.

    Have you ever considered how much you've grown since then? In my case, I've outgrown the mentality I held those years ago and I wouldn't even want to go back. But, having the choice would be evidence of something much bigger than them or me.

  13. 13 me, incognito said at 8:14 am on March 30th, 2010:

    Thank you for the encouraging words, m* and Serena.

  14. 14 Michelle said at 4:30 pm on March 30th, 2010:


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