judging hurting people...

Disclaimer: There are a bunch of you who will read this post and get really mad...I hope more of you get convicted instead.

I've been wanting to write this for awhile now but haven't yet because, well, I haven't thought it was time until now.

There is something seriously wrong with Christians who find no problem in judging others who are hurting and/or grieving. Since Stephen was born 9 months ago, I have experienced this many times.

I have flat out been told to my face that my faith in God is fake because I have hurt/grieved over the pain and struggle my son has gone through with his medical issues. I've been told that because I've been angry, scared, lonely, etc... that my love for God is not strong enough, that I've walked away from Him, that I must not be saved, or whatever else. In one of the darkest times in my life, I've been made to feel guilty by other Christians for feeling pain or struggling.

Since when did Christians stop going through the grieving process? Since when did we lose our humanity just because we are going to heaven one day??

There is something wrong with us as believers if we can look at hurting people and think we are better than them or that our faith in God is stronger because we haven't grieved like they have or haven't been through what they have. We really ought to walk a mile in another person's shoes before deciding that they don't know Jesus if they are struggling.

I'm not sure what has been taught in the world of Christianity these days as far as this topic goes, but I know I am guilty of it...and SHAME on me. Shame on me for taking anyone's heartache and making light of it. Shame on me for looking at someone who has lost a loved one, lost a child, lost a dog and deciding that their hurt isn't real. Shame on me for seeing a woman in a marriage that is in shambles and instead of offering to help her, offering to come and sit with her while she cries, judging her instead and deciding that her faith isn't strong enough because she and her husband are going through the fire. Shame on me if I've seen a homeless man who has been through unimaginable heartache and decided that its his own fault he's homeless. Shame, shame, shame on me for judging anyone who has gone through any sort of difficult time.
Shame on you, also, if you have done this.

To those Christians who have made me feel like dirt for going through the grieving process or for questioning my faith in God, shame on you.

To those Christians who told me that if I prayed more, maybe then my son would be healed, shame on you.

To those Christians who saw me and my husband hurting, in need of friendship and love rather than condemnation and judgement, and ignored us, talked badly about us, and pretended we don't exist, shame on you.

I love you and I forgive you.

Every single person on this planet, whether they know the Lord or not, has gone through or will go through some type of hurt or pain in their lifetime. You may not have been there yet, but most likely you will. If you live an entire life that is easy, you need to wonder at the end what happened. It is inevitable for humans to experience hurt of some sort, and probably more so for those who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and followed Jesus.

But just because we know Christ and have the Holy Spirit doesn't mean we have suddenly become a god ourselves. We are not Christian robots. We still feel things, still struggle, and still have times where our faith isn't perfect.

And everyone who has lost something or someone they loved, or has been through something difficult, has gone through the grieving process. Stephen is here, but I have grieved deeply over the "loss" I have felt of him having a normal baby-hood. Grief is our human response to heartache, regardless of what we believe. Some people (those who are dubbed the "strong Christians") get through this process quicker than others. Some Christians take years to get from one step to the next. The grieving process is part of the healing process, and people who are hurting need healing, not a "get-fixed-quick" solution to what they are going through. Here are the steps:

1) Denial/Shock
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Guilt/Depression
5) Loneliness
6) Acceptance
7) Resolution/Re-adjusment

The next time you know a Christian who is experiencing deep heartache or pain, or is experiencing a loss of some sort, don't just shove Scripture in their face and tell them to let it go and give it to God. Instead, give them time to grieve. Don't offer advice about how to get over the pain. Cry with them. Offer to do something for them. Buy them a cup of coffee or some beautiful flowers, just to show that you care. Chances are, when they are ready to talk, they will come to you as a friend. They won't be afraid of being rejected by you if they are still struggling. They won't think you are judging them if they still don't have it all together.

I am so happy I can say that I am finally in the last stages of the grieving process over my son's struggle. I have accepted, and am continuing to accept the baby he is and am adjusting to my new life as his Mom. I have also resolved the idea that this may be something I have to deal with for a long time and am okay with that.

And, thanks to the few people who have helped me through this time so far, I have not walked away from my relationship with Christ, and every day I lean on Him for strength, courage, hope, and even joy.

(To see more on this topic, to understand grief, and to know how to be there for others who are hurting, go here: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/emotional_health/coping_with_death_and_grief/helping_loved_ones_grieve.aspx


Carly said...

I just read an article I really liked about this... http://www.meghmiller.com/love-well-in-moments-of-crisis/ it seems rather apropos. We do seem to treat hurt people in weird ways, I know. I wonder how much of it comes from simply being mean, and how much comes from not knowing what to say. I dunno. All I can say is, I know I've been guilty of what you are talking about, but I've been trying to make an effort to be better.

Really, it all comes down to the church. My heart has been yearning for a real "church," I mean, friends who never speak badly of me, who defend me regardless, who uphold my weakness instead of taking advantage of it. I can think of seven people I know who in real life who I know would do that, and four of them I'm related to, one I'm married to. That's sad. That's why I'm not even 30 yet and burned out.

Kelly Efurd Lawson said...

I seriously don't know who these people are that have treated you this way. It's appalling and sad and... I don't get it. In allowing us to enter into your journey with you, Sara (which I am grateful for), that means I share the responsibility of hurting and grieving with you, and helping to carry the burden.

Know you are loved. Not judged.

Lauren said...

love you my friend! :) let's talk soon!

Aprille said...

more christians need to read this. i shared on facebook. love you girl and your faith is an inspiration to me!