A Message To The Church of The Hurting

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Everyone you meet is broken.

Whether you realize it or not, every single day you rub shoulders with people in great pain.

They are among the growing multitude of walking wounded in your midst, many presently laboring as they try to take that most excruciating of steps: the next one.

Most of them don’t wear their damage so that it can be easily seen, though. To be vulnerable like that is to risk further injury, and so they gradually learn to conceal and cover the tender, throbbing, torn-up parts of themselves from others. Though they surely suffer in the solitude and silence, at least there they find some illusion of control, some measure of safety.

And if you aren’t really looking closely at people as they cross your path, you might likely mistake them for the confident, together, secure, unaffected successes that they so desperately want to be seen as. You might well be fooled by their carefully crafted veneers of success and self-reliance, and you might withhold from them compassion or compliment or kindness, feeling as though they need none of those things. Rest assured, they do.

I imagine that you too are a member of this great congregation of the broken and bruised, this Church of The Hurting. I imagine that you too have well-buried weakness and failure that serve as your daily burden; a constant, heavy reminder of all that you have not become or done or found. You too might be fully consumed with the dual tasks of shielding the contents of your shattered heart, all the while pretending you are indestructible. The good and the bad news here is: you’ve been found out. You can take off the cape and the costume and join the rest of us mortals down here on the ground.

Not knowing the specific road you’ve traveled, I can’t speak any precise words of wisdom or say anything to alleviate the very specific pain you are carrying. I can only bid you welcome.

I can only assure you that you are in very good company, that you are among broken brethren as you live and breathe and move through your day. We are all kinfolk in our damaged-ness.

But please know that you are not broken in that you are defective and in need of fixing, but simply that you are fractured and in need of mending. We all have those cracked fault lines; places that need to be filled in and sured up and protected. None of us are whole and yet none of us are beyond repair.

In light of this, may you practice relentless benevolence out there. May you continually seek a softer way of speaking to people, a gentler way of handling them, because you know they are as brittle and fragile and prone to breaking as you are. Remember that you don’t have a monopoly on suffering, so take time to look deeply into people and see their damage—and go easy on them.

But allow yourself this same sweet courtesy, too. Realize that you also deserve this same gentleness, this same space to fail. Treat your own heart and your own flaws as delicate things. Go easy on yourself.

In the middle of the speed and the noise of this life; in the dizzying parade that we defiantly strut through every day trying to fool people into believing that we’re all okay, it can be a challenge to remember that we’re all not okay. I hope that you will, though, because it will change the way you walk the rest of the journey.

I hope you’ll find your place in this great congregation of flawed, wounded souls and that you’ll feel right at home here, because you are.

Church of The Hurting, be encouraged.

0 thoughts on “A Message To The Church of The Hurting

  1. Allow myself the same courtesy … i know that – in my head. i just don’t buy it in my heart. i can get so into your posts – this one so much tugs at the heart strings. And carries so much truth. And as always, your words come across gentle and caring. i am blessed to have run across your page and touched each time i come here to read.

  2. I call you my pastor and here’s is just one reason why….We don’t attend church anymore and can’t see that we ever will

  3. Beautifully written, John.

    Last May I left the hospital with my sister and brother-in-law after he was told by the neurology oncologist that he had an aggressive brain tumor and had only about 16 months to live. We were all numb inside as we stood in line with others at a fast food place. I remember thinking at the time the cashier had no idea that our lives had just been flipped completely upside down. It was a turning point for me in the way I (try to) view and treat others because I figure that each person I cross paths with is most likely walking through some type of suffering and/or brokenness. I’ve endeavored since then to show others the same love and compassion that Jesus shows me, and like you said, “seek a softer way of speaking to people, a gentler way of handling them, because you know they are as brittle and fragile and prone to breaking as you are.”

    Thanks for writing this.

  4. Excellent post. Thank you for the reminder that being broken is nothing to be ashamed of. The trick is to pick up the glue and try to fit the pieces back together. Sometimes it will be with your own hand, other times it will be with the hand of another. Hopefully, the next person I meet I will have some of that glue for them.

    • Hi pavanneh, I do not believe the idea is to glue the pieces back together, but to acknowledge that we are broken. End of story. There is no fixing us. I know it sounds strange when I say that that, but it applies to every person on earth. Brokenness is not only for the people who got hurt, but also for the healthy, wealthy and important. They are broken too. Brokenness is the acknowledgement before God that we do not have it all together. Brokenness is the acknowledgement that we need each other. Brokenness says we are equal.

      I am explaining this badly. But perhaps I should say that the brokenness this post talks about are not the brokenness of the hurt, marginalized and weak. It is more a condition/”space” in which we come together before God where we found out that His love turns everything upside down and that it is IN brokenness and THROUGH brokenness that He reveals Himself. This is where we found out that this is not about us, but about God and where His love will take us.

      • And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water,
        And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower,
        And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him,
        He said “all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them,”
        But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
        Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.

  5. Reblogged this on Because I can… and commented:
    I really liked what he has to say. There are times when I see myself as a vase that has so many cracks in it that it can barely hold water much less hold it’s shape. But, I keep filling the cracks and the holes with the help of the Lord and with often the help of those around me and most of all with the help of myself. As long as I wake up and stand up, even though it may be shaky. I make the glue stronger and the fractures a little less.

    • Hi. I am trying to figure out this “pavanneh” thing. When I spell it backwards, I get hennavap, which I suppose could be the vapor rising from a bowl of henna. On the other hand, it could be something from India, maybe a person’s name: Pasupathi Pavanneh Chouwdery? Then there is P.A. who lines in Savannah in the old Erickson Home? Help me out here. Please?

      • I was named after a piece of music..Pavan for a dead princess by Ravel. It is also spelled Pavone for a dance-french. Pavan – music in Spanish. My mother also said in Hindu it was breeze. The spelling Pavanne is my name. The “h” is the first letter of my last name.

  6. I love your work here John, but I am going to have to disagree on this one. I know at least one person who has lived a wealthy, charmed, and totally painless life. I strongly suspect that this person will continue to experience that charmed and painless life until their day of death. While most people who visit this blog will experience an agonizing and painful death, this person is highly likely to be granted the painless privilege of simply dying peacefully in their sleep. And I personally doubt that this person really cares about and understands the pain of other people—or would even remotely understand it—not really—except in some vague, distant, and plastic literary sense. They might claim to do so, but you have to experience pain and hurt deeply to empathize with and understand others who are in pain and hurting—and I doubt that this person has ever had that opportunity—not really. And yes, I kind of resent that because no one in life should be able to dodge it all and enter the grave with an “I Dodged it All” license. And no, they are not some celebrity.

    As for me—I have tons and tons and tons of pain, hurt, and brokenness that have accumulated so deeply across a lifetime that a bystander looking at the pile would easily mistake it for Mount Everest.

    But I suspect you knew that already.

    • Hi dover1952, the brokenness of the “one person who has lived a wealthy, charmed, and totally painless life” lies in the fact that he/she cannot truly show you the Kingdom of God. And trust me, that person has made decisions that have had negative consequences. Brokenness does not only apply to us as people but also to our surroundings. Sometimes we do stuff with good intentions, but end up with contrary results. Why is that? What did Paul say? “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practising what I would like to do.” 🙂

      As I’ve said to pavanneh, the brokenness this post talks about does not lie in the realm of ” but you have to experience pain and hurt deeply to empathize with and understand others who are in pain and hurting.” It lies more in the realm of Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” The wise and learned are broken because God chose to use children. Their successfulness leads to their brokenness, because they cannot fully reveal God.

      John talks in his post about “confident, together, secure, unaffected people” Why do we want to be seen as “confident, together, secure, unaffected people”? I bet its because we do not understand brokenness 🙂

      • What a great comment. For many years I had that “charmed” life. Then I went through ten years of extreme trial and suffering. I very much understand what you’re saying here. I’m a very different person now, able to see others with compassion. The beatitudes make so much more sense now. Bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

  7. So lovely and so true. I stopped attending a church that consisted of walls because we were not allowed to speak of our brokenness. ANd we heard things like, “Love the sinner, hate the sin!” and a whole host of other dogmas that no longer resonated with me or my family. However, after stimbling across your webpage John, something deep down on the inside of me resonates with the words written on your page. I thank you for that. I still struggle with the whole bible issue, the judgments, the damnations, the rules, the control, God being considered a man, a him. a holy father. I just do not subscribe to that type of religion, any longer. I do believe there is a creator (neither male nor female) but omnipotent, as everything that was, this is, and that ever will be..

    But I love reading your blog and have shared it will many of my friends and family who happen to be religious and they do not see what I see (unconditional love) the kind of love I believe that Jesus spoke about. I do get ridiculed, scorned, and everything else that goes along with stepping away for the church and you know what? I am okay with that! To each is own!

    Someone in the above comments stated that you are like their pastor. If I ever feel the need to have a pastor I would like my pastor to speak like you speak.

    Thank you John, for your time! Please keep up the good work! I can imagine what life might be like for you in the religious communities. And that is okay too!
    Peace and love be with you and your family always!

  8. One of your best, from the heart, not from anger, posts, John. Thank you. For years, I taught adult Sunday school and was always amazed that some of the least likely folks stayed after class to chat about their lives. Something during the lesson sparked an opening, and thus I realized that within each of us is a desire for God’s healing grace. Thanks. May I reblog this?

  9. “To be vulnerable like that is to risk further injury, and so they gradually learn to conceal and cover the tender, throbbing, torn-up parts of themselves from others. Though they surely suffer in the solitude and silence, at least there they find some illusion of control, some measure of safety.”

    Mmmmmmmmmmm. Oh yes.

  10. Reblogged this on thecheekyhousewife and commented:
    “In the middle of the speed and the noise of this life; in the dizzying parade that we defiantly strut through every day trying to fool people into believing that we’re all okay, it can be a challenge to remember that we’re all not okay. I hope that you will, though, because it will change the way you walk the rest of the journey.”

  11. Pingback: A Message To The Church of The Hurting | RONDA'S DISCUSSION TOPIC OF THE DAY...

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