Regarding discipline and forgiveness within the church, Jesus said:
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone...”
— Matthew 18:15a (NRSV)
Because the church is a spiritual hospital, many are the maimed, diseased, and partially paralysed—indeed, all of us have our broken bits to contend with and, therefore, necessarily, others must contend also. Others must put up with us, as we must put up with others. And such is the testament of love that, largely, we achieve this in the gladness and degrees of humour.
But inevitably things run awry.
Through lack of care/feedback/acknowledgement or criticism, church members are easily disenfranchised. Sometimes the people on the other end of the lack of care, feedback, or acknowledgement (etc) simply do not know their ‘failing’. At other times they do, and issues prove irreconcilable.
Problems for the Hurt Person
What generally underpins the hurt within the person hurt is a history of hurt.
In such hurt is a history of unreconciled pain.
If we were to trace back through the passage of life of the person hurt we might expect to find significant irreconcilable issues, even quite disconnected from the present hurt. In this way, it is not just the presenting hurt that is the problem, but matters underneath compounding the present hurt.
It is a very unfortunate reality that, if, we suffered abuse and neglect as a child, we will be more susceptible to the ugliness of betrayal through our ensuing life. But the person who has grappled with such a disastrously broken past will not be so prone.
Unreconciled hurts build upon one another, to the point that incoming hurts cannot be handled at all well.
The best policy is rigourous honesty with ourselves, but the irony is the more hurt we are underneath the less desire we have to be honest. We may need honesty all the more, but we may have less capacity than we need. As soon as we are honest we can understand that conflict needs to be addressed, so the situation, and ourselves, can be healed. This, of course, takes significant portions of courage.
The Challenge for the Hurt Person
Healing is a challenge for the hurt person. They may very well feel it is beyond them.
Healing rests in peace. Whatever outcome we seek we must be able to live with. When we are honest, and we accept that addressing the issue means confronting another person or people in love, we have a way of moving forward. But we need to be ready for both positive and negative results. We need to do this in order to protect ourselves.
Meeting the person one-on-one, having planned what we will say, and having prepared ourselves to listen to them also, we communicate clearly and concisely. We harness our emotions by keeping mindful of how they might be feeling.
Whatever happens, the challenge for the person who has been hurt is to meet the perpetrator of the hurt, wherever possible, and seek an acceptable reconciliation.
If such an acceptable reconciliation isn’t possible, the hurt person is presented with a challenge not too unique in this life—to accept the things they cannot change, in the knowledge that they did the best they could.
Church hurts are an ever present threat. When they occur we cannot let them fester. Jesus has commanded us to meet the person who has hurt us. This is the way we move forward. Having done this, we either addressed the hurt through courage or we learned to accept that which we could not change. Either way we can have peace and, therefore, healing.
Situations of hurt need to be resolved through actions of reconciliation; a process by which the hurt person needs to initiate.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.