The New Thing God Has for You

newHi, Katrina Wylie here again, and I’ve been beyond blessed by all the sharing so far! Let’s keep the community going today as we dig into Chapter 3 of #TheMendedHeart — “When the Church Hurts Your Heart.”

Back when I was in high school, my mom, recognizing my love for decorating, gave me a plant for my bedroom. It was one off her office desk so, feeling like it was something she treasured, I treasured the gift all the more.

The church feels a bit like this to me. Like God, recognizing our love for communing with believers, has given us a gift. And because I know He treasures the church, I treasure it all the more too.

Well, it’s been many years since I received the plant and, yes, I still have it, but it is a changed plant.

Back in 2013, all my plants suddenly began dying off! As it turned out, what was a nutrient-rich feeding source for them, had become a life-draining environment. Bugs had taken up residence in the soil and were feasting away at the roots!

I thought the answer to healing them was ridding the soil of the bugs, so I went at the task full force for months, to no avail. Though I wanted them to be back to the beautiful, full plants they once were, the bugs persisted. And so, one by one, I began to throw them away, feeling like their damaged remains were no longer worth salvaging.

When religious abuse takes up residence in our churches or our homes it can have a similar effect on us and our roots in God.

As we learn in The Mended Heart Chapter 3, religious abuse can:

  • Lead to spiritual brokenness
  • Distort the way we view God or the way we believe God sees us
  • Lead us away from faith

Maybe you’ve experienced this in your life. And maybe, like me with my plants, you’ve tried to eliminate the hurt to get things back to how they were prior to the damage, but without seeing the results you wanted.

If that’s you, sweet sister, first, can I encourage you to watch Nicki’s testimony from last Thursday if you haven’t already? It is going to encourage your heart so much!

Second, I believe God brought you to this study for a reason: to re-immerse your heart in His hope and truth and help you perceive the new thing He wants to do in you through the process!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Are you ready to move toward the “new thing” God has for you?

When it came to my remaining plants, I had to stop focusing on ridding the soil of the bugs and instead immerse the plant stems in water. And guess what? They not only survived, but after a  year of strengthening and growing new roots, I re-planted them and they’re now beginning to thrive again with new growth!

Surviving & Thriving Plants

My friends, God wants to do the same thing for me and you. We don’t have to sit, focused on all the “bugs” in our lives that led to our brokenness. We can choose instead to immerse ourselves in the living water — in Jesus and God’s Word — and allow it to cleanse us, all the while growing new, stronger roots in God.

Like Suzanne Eller points out, “Truth is our first and greatest weapon.”

TheMendedHeart_2.1

So, will you immerse yourself in the living water and soak in God’s truth day by day, so you, too, can strengthen and grow new roots?

I pray you will.

Let’s Chat:

Observe –– I shared the one thing that stood out to me from Chapter 3 to help us heal from our brokenness. What stood out to you?

Bible — In #4 of the “Just You and God” section of Chapter 3, Suzie directs us to six verses. Look them up and share with us which of them speaks to you the most.

Stretch — One part of the “Mended Heart Challenge” at the end of Chapter 3 is to forgive those who’ve hurt us. Seek God for one step you can take to move toward forgiveness.

 

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  1. Miranda Miller says:

    What spoke to me the most from chapter three was on pg. 67, she writes “Distorted religion can hurt your heart, but Jesus reclaims it. What I need to remember most is that people that run the church are a sinful person just like myself. They are held to higher standards and people expect them to be perfect, but there is only one perfect man that walked this Earth and that was Jesus. I think the verse that spoke to me most was Romans 12:19 my sinful side of me would love to hurt the people that has hurt. I will keep this verse on my heart as I struggle with this. Another great one is 2 Corinthians 13:4-8, I love how Gods perfect love for us is described. Lord, help to forgive the church body that has wronged me and judged me when I all needed is their support. Help me to love them even though they didn’t show me and love and help me to remember they are human and sinful just like me. Help me to remember love my neighbor at all times no matter what and to show love to them always.

  2. Becca B. says:

    “Hurting people hurt people” Chapter 3, page 73. Four simple words, but this is one of the most powerful things I have read so far in this book. The people who hurt me, were when I was young. Adult male authority figures that most people feared and obeyed, so the weight of their words had power enough for me to believe them as a child, and made me feel like I lost a lot of my self worth and years I wish I could go back and change. By reading those 4 words and understanding… (And by making my heart whole in Christ and not that authority persons approval)…. It takes away so much of their power over my life.

  3. Alicia newburn says:

    no matter what you go through God bless us always there. Need gods approval not anyone else. Romans 5:8 were seperate from gods love. I’m slowly working on forgiveness with gods grace I can do all things.

  4. “Jesus won the battle by consistently referring back to the One who had sent him and the written word….” Yes, I’ve been spiritually abused by my ex husband. As I continue to recover from the pain, I’ve found the most helpful practice isn’t to run away from it, or to try to avoid it; rather, I repeat over and over, “Pain, pain, pain,” until my soul stills. Once that stillness comes, I begin to tell God all the truths I believe: He loves me. I’m not alone. I matter. He cares about my pain. He will redeem my pain. I can trust Him; I don’t have to trust the pain. As I focus on Him, more and more and more verses come until finally, my peace is restored.

  5. Churches can sometimes be a place of great suffering at the hands of professed Christians. Sometimes Christians assume that if someone is going through challenges they must have done something wrong. This is not always the case. Since we are not perfect, we sometimes further wound the broken by adding insult to injury. I had an experience where I saw my father die young. A relative said it was because of sin in the past. They were referring to 30-40 years ago. Since then he was a new man but they harmed on the past. They did the same to people in the bible. It’s nothing new. We need to learn to build people up.

  6. Turn your heart toward truth (page 67) – this stood out to me that all we have is our faith and God’s word to hold on to. Truth is our first and greatest weapon against spiritual abuse (page 67). #4 Which speaks to me most is 2Corin 5:17 -…a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, all things have become new. I love Katrina’s illustration with the replanting of old roots becoming new again (simple but so powerful). One step towards forgiveness: We worship among imperfect people, but we worship only our perfect Savior (page 77) – My prayer is that God will show me the way in all of this.

    • Sandra Lerew says:

      “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

      It is good to that we can trust a perfect and gracious Savior in the midst of change.

      In ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28

  7. Karen Moss says:

    The one thing that stood out to me was that the church is just a place where people gather that just need Jesus and that the best thing for us is just to keep our eyes focused on Him. I have had a lot of people and leaders in the church disappoint me. For me I love my church because it is where, hopefully, I can help others realize that the church is just about Jesus.

  8. Hurting people hurt people. That is what I have to hold onto from this chapter. My first husband was a minister for 8 years. I loved being a pastor’s wife. I played the piano in church and loved the church family/community. My husband began having affairs and became verbally and emotionally abusive soon after our daughter was born. We left the church and I tried to hold onto our marriage (and family – with 2 little kids), but after 12 years of marriage and 3 affairs, I couldn’t do it anymore and filed for divorce. The past 10 years since the divorce have been very hard as his verbal and emotional abuse have escalated. This chapter has shown me to look at him in another light…that he is a hurting person. He must be a very hurting person to have hurt his family and church family the way he did. So, I have started to pray for this man that took so much from me. It has taken me a long time, but I am back in church. I have found a wonderful church with a pastor that I trust and am inspired by weekly. The church family has embraced me and I have even joined the Praise Team and have started playing music again. There’s still hurt and apprehension with the church, but I know God has led me to this place of healing and I long to see the other side. Several of the bible verses pertained to me, but I think right now, the one I hold onto is 1 Corinthians 12:27 because I was wondering if there was really a place for me in the church and a purpose for me in God’s plan. Now I know there is and I am so eager to see how God uses me.

    • Liz, what a wonderful story of redemption. I am so sorry you had to go through that pain for so long. Reading your words shows how when our perspective changes & we realize that the person hurting us is also hurting God can begin to heal our hurts. Praying for you as you follow God’s path for you in your new church.

    • Bless you! Prayers for your continued healing…keep using your gifts to the glory of God!

    • I’m so sorry you were hurt this way, both in your marriage and in a confusing image of what church is or should be. Yet I LOVE that you have sorted through to hold on to truth. That you choose to forgive and pray for your abuser, which is so powerful in the heavenly realms as you take what was meant to harm you and you ask God to heal his heart. You are strong, brave and courageous. I’m standing here with my hands uplifted, cheering you on!

  9. Rhonda Hendrix says:

    I loved Principle #3 that says “we worship among imperfect people, but we worship only our perfect savior”. It is such a reminder to keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of disappointments that can occur in our church homes.

  10. Katrina, Thank you for this post!! You have turned something that can be so very painful into a beacon of hope for something new!

  11. Valerie Miller says:

    the main question for me is do I matter – after a childhood of neglect, where pain was hard to distinguish, I developed extensive skills to work around that question- do I matter? If I work, if I achieve, if I put everyone before me, if I serve, if I tithe, will I matter? The grief of being a child who was not loved is what Jesus has been trying to heal, if I would just stop TRYING ALL THE TIME. I am learning to rest, to face the feelings I was so afraid of as a child.

    • Jacqueline Robson says:

      Valerie you do matter immensly to God and I know the struggle with feeling that you don’t matter as I too was abused in childhood and made to feel I wasn’t worth anything and it also happened with people in church but what I took especially from this chapter is that hurting people hurt people but God will never hurt us and we matter to Him. God loves you and I pray that this truth sinks deep into your heart and that you can begin to believe you are loved and I pray the same for me and everyone who struggles with feeling unloved.

    • Valerie, rest, sis. Just sink into His love for a day, for a minute, for a week, for a lifetime. That’s where we are changed. We hear His heart over our own striving. I love how honest you are and that you are part of this study with all of the other women (myself included) who just want all that God has for us in this area. <3

  12. Stretch: one thing I am doing to move toward forgiveness is to first recognize where & when I was hurt. My tendency is to stuff it or ignore, but I am realizing that I have to call out the sin, acknowledge that I was hurt, then choose to forgive. It is not easy, but I keep reminding myself from this stuffy, that ” I don’t have to do this alone”!

    • Love that you brought up recognition. So often we hold hurt in our heart and haven’t moved on because we haven’t recognized the source of the hurt fully. Praying your time with God in recognizing your hurt is fruitful Lisa. May God bring revelation and through it, healing.

  13. Heather says:

    Boy, is this chapter timely!! I sat through an extremely contentious congregational meeting on Sunday!! And though the things that happened there weren’t “religious abuse” (and it may depend on who you ask), chapter 3 helped me put the whole meeting in perspective.
    Living out life with other imperfect believers can and will be extremely messy. And if you can’t take the past hurts you have suffered at the hands of church folks and give it to Jesus, that’s a rough road to travel down. There were people at the meeting digging up stuff that happened 10 years ago! I sat back and was completely saddened by the whole thing. But I can say, I don’t hold any animosity toward anyone at the meeting, it was such a sad display of what can happen when people hold on to hurts.
    Praying for all the ladies doing this Bible study! I hope we can put our hurts into perspective and lay them at the feet of Jesus!

  14. My observation: I like how Suzie said in this chapter that she wasn’t sure she wanted to use this kind of brokenness in the book. Where as I totally and completely understand her reasoning, I thank God she did! It has made me feel like I’m not alone and not crazy!
    I have been so battered by church people that it’s a thousand wonders I still go. I have People Pleasing Syndrome and Fear of Rejection Disease, all of which stems from childhood issues. My focus in chapter three was more on that aspect.
    Since moving to this area fourteen years ago we’ve attended the same church. We left it this past January. I was very active there and also on staff. My heart and head are still reeling. For now we’ve been visiting a very large church and are just blending in…but I feel rather empty.
    Matthew 11:28-30 is one of my all time favorite verses. I don’t know how I continually get caught up in the rat race of trying to compete with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ’s burden really isn’t heavy…but we make it that way. I like Rom. 12:19 too though I’m not really the revenge seeking type…but sometimes ugly thoughts wander through my mind.
    Who I need to forgive: There is a group of five or six that were instrumental in rocking my service at my former church. That escalated to the whole board as not one soul has yet to call my husband and ask what was happening in his life to make him leave. He has been a Deacon there for years, not to mention helping me in everything I got us involved in. I’m struggling…but I know they love God and they’re His own and I must find a way to let it go.

    • I have “People Pleasing Syndrome and Fear of Rejection Disease” also, but never have given it such an accurate, descriptive name. Thanks for sharing. I have prayed for you.

    • Stacy Lowe, P31 OBS Study Leader says:

      Hi Patt, Your comments really struck a nerve with me because that pain is all too familiar. Christ said to pray for those who do us wrong and that’s something I’ve had to learn to do and it has helped change my perspective. At first, I had no other words to pray but, “God, You said to pray for these people so that’s what I’m doing. I don’t know what else to say.” Over time, though, I have learned to pray genuine prayers over the lives of those who hurt me. I also made the choice to forgive. To help, I wrote their names out on my bathroom mirror in dry erase marker and I wrote next to their names a list of the things they had done. Covering that list of offenses, in HUGE letters, I wrote the word “FORGIVEN.” That was my visual reminder of a choice I had made. Every time I set foot in that bathroom, it was right there front and center confronting me. Every time I would start to feel bitterness creeping back in, I would look at that and remember that I had made the choice to forgive. I left that written on my mirror until my feelings began to match my decision. I am praying that you find healing from all you’ve been through and that God would make beauty from your ashes <3

      • Rachel S says:

        I love that Stacy!!

      • I used this kind of thought process with the people in charge of the Sunday School where we attend. There was a BIG issue in how they handled my then 4 year old son. I was very hurt. I prayed for them. I teach Sunday School under them now. Am I 100% better? NOPE. Is it manageable? Yes!

        Carissa in eastern Iowa

      • I wish we had like buttons on here! Such uplifting I’ve received today –
        Thank you for these ladies God! Thank you for this Bible study that came at just the right time…thank You for the one who followed her calling to write it…thank you for Suzie and bless her and her family!
        In Jesus name…

    • I just recently started over in a new church after being in our other church for 30 years. It’s so odd to walk in and know no one. We moved to a new state and it’s been an intentional move on our part to get to know people. We are making some beautiful new friends, but for the first time in 30 years we realize how impactful it is to start fresh with a new church family. My prayer is that you’ll remember the good from your old church, that the bad will lose its power soon, and that you’ll be refreshed in your new church family. For now, I pray that this church family will be a blessing to you as we join as sisters in Christ to mend together!

  15. Crystal says:

    I don’t think I truly accept that Jesus loves me regardless of what I do. I get caught up in thinking I have to be good enough, do enough for him. I have to change my focus off of doing enough & onto letting the spirit transform me on the inside, which will naturally increase the outward acts. It actually takes the pressure off to know I can hand this over to Jesus too.

    • I’ve struggled with that same feeling…but you just tell Satan to buzz off! He’d like nothing more than for you to believe that!
      Jesus loved you before you existed, before you gave your life to him…BEFORE! :))
      You don’t have to do anything except model yourself after Jesus. I think people confuse works with “busy” stuff which it is to a degree. Our works encompass so many things, yes it’s service and doing things for people and church. But above all it’s a changed life and living for Him, having a changed heart and a personal relationship with God. We can’t earn it, praise God we don’t have to!
      “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

    • Crystal. it’s only week 2. Stay with us, sis. Let God speak into your heart and peel away layer by layer.

  16. I have been struggling with hurt from what I thought was my new church. There’s so much about this church that I love. Unfortunately, the church has been unable to meet me where I’m on a particular subject and I’ve been deeply hurt by this. I began to feel like it changed the way God viewed me, like I wasn’t lovable. Today I choose to immerse myself in the living water. I am turning to prayer and God’s word to guide me. I will grow and flourish in Him.

  17. I know, I mean I really know, that I have to forgive the person who hurt me. Not only do I have to, I NEED to. But, for whatever reason, I just am NOT there yet. It’s been a little over a year and I am still putting conditions on my forgiveness of this person. And I know that is wrong; that isn’t the way forgiveness works. Yet I still want certain things to take place in order for me to forgive. I pray that God will move my heart to not feel this way and to truly grasp what it means to extend grace to this person. I want God to take away my desire for conditions to be met. I know He will…in His timing.

    • Carissa says:

      I pray that the Lord can grant you the freedom that comes from forgiving that person or persons who hurt you. Lord, don’t let these past hurts have victory over my sister Kara’s life. Let her truly understand how high, deep and wide Your love for her is–and that nothing else matters Give her Your strength to forgive the imperfect people who hurt her–the freedom from their sinful actions has already been paid for by the blood of Jesus. Help her to know that there are others of us who have been there, understand how she feels, and have been able to overcome. Thank You for helping her find this study at this time in her life. Thank You that Your plans for her are extravagant. Help her to trust You and Your plans. I prayin the mighty Name of Jesus. Amen

    • Kara, I have another book called The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness. I pray that you’ll consider going through it after The Mended Heart. It is gentle, but it helps you redefine what forgiveness is and how to begin. <3

    • Jenn B. says:

      Hey Kara!
      I have been there too and still continue to be there. I left my ex husband a little over 5 years ago and experience a lot of manipulation, emotional, mental and psychological abuse from him. I am trying to forgive him but it’s hard especially when I still see him (we have two girls together and he has access to them once a week and every other weekend) regularly and he continues to do things. I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve started to pray for him and ask God to be in his life and help him heal. That part of chapter 3 about how hurting people hurt is so true. It’s a process my friend, but you (and I) will get through this as we serve an almighty God!

  18. On p. 73 when it is talking about Amy and says, “She’s careful not to hurt others, or to carry around resentment toward people who bear Christ’s name and don’t represent Him well, as these actions just perpetuate the pain.” I was hurt deeply by a church member and I have been trying hard to forgive, let it go, and this just demonstrated why I need to so badly. The verse that stands out to me is 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Chris, and each one of you is a part of it.” Because of the hurt, I have felt like an outsider, but the truth is that I am a part of it, just as all others and I should remember that when I have that feeling.

  19. CarolAnne says:

    The sentences that stood out to me were: (Amy) keeps in mind that none of us has control over other people’s choices. We just have control over our own….May God grant us the grace to say about our religious abusers what Jusus said of His: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

  20. My problem with the church is I went to church as a child but went there for the wrong reasons, They would give us candy at the end of the service then as you get older you would get a bible, but I think I was to young at the time to understand …my parents sent me to church but would not go themselves so when I was old enough to know better I quit going until I got older then I went to a new church and I liked it a lot and I took my kids then I overheard one of the teachers in my kids class they something about my kid which hurt me so I quit going there then I started going to church with my in-laws and took my kids and the teachers said something about my kid again and my kid stopped going and he has not been to church since and he end up doing and being what those teachers in the past said over him. I kept on going then because I liked the church and the Paster just not the kids Paster. Then the Paster left and a new one took over and I felt dead there and quit going and have not been to church since. Just don’t want to go through that again…I go to church online and do bible studies through yall.I guess that’s how I’ve been hurt by “church”

    • Carissa says:

      Carol–

      I hope you read my story posted below. Do not give up on finding people to gather with in real time–flesh and blood, breathing, imperfect humans. You miss out on so much by not having that.

      If I can be of any help, I would be honored to do so.

      Carissa in eastern Iowa

  21. After I read this chapter, I was thinking about something that had hurt our family deeply by someone in the church. I was asked why we didn’t leave that church. I had to reply because God hadn’t told us to leave. I have moved from churches before but God has told us to go before but not this time. I need forgiveness and to let go of bitterness. This study is quite timely.

  22. What stood out to me in question #4 is the fact that I am such a mess! But… God says I am new in Christ and the old “mess” is gone! I need to start walking in the newness of Christ! I am beginning to perceive the new thing He is doing in me … and I know that He who began the good work will be faithful to complete it!

  23. Jennifer says:

    I have always wondered why my mom thinks the way she does. why does she judge with condemnation? Looking back I know it was the church she had attended as a child, a teen and then an adult. She mimics what she learned there. Her past of spiritual abuse from a church has followed her throughout her life, even though she no longer goes to that church. Thank you God- I now understand my mother in a different light.

  24. The point that stood out for me is that scripture is the authority. If you wonder whether what you’ve been told is of God, your first stop for research should be the bible. Man is imperfect, but God and His word are not.
    The scripture that resonates with me the most is Matthew 11:28-30 – sometimes I feel so overwhelmed – and I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to do this alone. I understand that as long as I trust God, I can take comfort in the fact that He will share my burdens and lessen the load for me. It is good for me to experience some heaviness in order for me to build spiritual muscle, but His yolk is easy and His burden is light.
    Stretching – just reminding myself that man is imperfect (even Christians) – and that not everything they say it so will line up with Gods word – so I extend grace – forgiveness – because God does the same for me

  25. lucrecia Maldonado-Figueroa says:

    What jumped out lost me was “Hurting people hurt people”, that was an aha moment. It’s different when you begin to realize that the person who hurt you could also be hurting. Yet to fund in you strength to forgive them, could be a difficult task.

    • Martha L. Jenkins says:

      Hi Lucrecia,
      I understand what you are saying, lot of times hurting people will hurt others to keep them at a distance so they don’t have to face their own hurt. I only know one Lucrecia Maldonado who lives close to Bakersfield?
      Martha (Maldonado)

  26. I’m waiting for my book and haven’t started yet but look forward to joining in with all you ladies for this study.

  27. Rachel S says:

    What I was reminded of in this chapter is that we are all sinners saved by Grace and a work in progress. It is not fair to put fellow Christians on a pedestal or have certain expectations from them. When I do this I am making them my “god” and this will only result in disappointment and resentment. I love the statement: “We worship among imperfect people, but we worship only our perfect Savior.” I need to forgive those who hurt me so that I don’t keep bitterness in my heart; for then I can truly worship my Lord and Savior!

    • Well said Rachel. Thanks for sharing your heart today!

    • Courtney says:

      Rachel that is the same part that spoke out to me. While the people that come to mind when I read that didn’t hurt me, I always felt like I wasn’t as good as them in loving God. They were “the perfect christians” and I was just a hypocrite. This made me think more about them and that they were probably facing their own struggles too. While mine may have been more outward, I never got a chance to know because I just avoided them because I didn’t feel like I’d fit in with them. We worship among imperfect people and we should gather together to lift each other up and share our struggles.

  28. Martha L. Jenkins says:

    I observed the 5 categories of people reached and how he drew the burdened and broken hearted to himself. Although it is very hard to be broken hearted & burdened this is a training ground for me to understand and reach out to others. Mat. 28:-30. Come to me those who are TIRED. I’m tired of being tired and work so hard to look like i’m fine and sometimes I just have to allow my self to be weak in front of others. I was in a ministry that I had longed for and I absolutely loved it, God gave me my hearts desire. Yet in the middle of this ministry was the strongest battle I had ever faced against the evil one. It was exhausting. I’m convinced although the authority did have a salvation story, his actions were more like the Pharisees. It feels like I’m forgiving the actions of the devil and how he allowed the Spirit to be quenched.

  29. “Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.” 1 Cor 13:7

    I am able this morning to see new meaning in this verse. In the past, I struggled with “it never stops trusting” because I thought I had to trust those that hurt me but I realize that the trusting in God. Trusting God. Praying. Loving Him to help me love others in the way, with Him, that I can.

  30. Donna Morris says:

    What stood out for me was Hurting people Hurt people. The scripture that I relate to is Matthew 11:28-30.

  31. Theresa says:

    I have not experienced spiritual abuse, but was raised by parents who were often emotionally unavailable and who worried more about what other people thought than how their children felt or what we were going through. Nothing was ever good enough for my father in particular, and he would put us down, call us names…..so I became a perfectionist thinking if only I could be perfect and do everything perfectly, then I’d have their attention and love. After reading this chapter I have seen how that has affected me spiritually as well, I’m so focused on doing and achieving and eArning acceptance and respect and love from others, and I do the same thing with God, forgetting that he loves me, he loved me before he even created me in my mothers womb-he even died for ME! It’s so freeing and when I can hold on to this truth in Romans 5:8, then I put my focus on developing my relationship with God rather than doing and earning his love…..I am hoping this will translate into my relationships with others as well
    Thank you to all for sharing so honestly, your sharing has blessed me and all of you are in my prayers.

  32. Kimberlt Johnson says:

    My heart is a MESS from rejection from my husband, who left us, and spiritual abuse at home and in the church. The timing of this study is perfect.

    They constantly focus on what I’m doing wrong and how deeply God is upset with me. Don’t we all struggle with sin? When my husband disciplines our children it’s all about how much our sin has hurt God.

    I struggle daily but am so thankful for the grace and mercy of My Savior.

    I really he’d out to my husband the other day saying I’d do anything for us to be under one roof. We talked about it all week. He was very kind and receptive. Saturday I was angered and at my breaking point with living as a single mom to four and our oldest walking out of drug rehab. I got very upset with his mom for criticizing me in front of our kids. Now…my husband wants nothing to do with getting back together and says I’m emotionally unstable.

    Good news…our son is in a different facility and doing well.

    Please help me understand how all this affects my walk. I need advice, insight and encouragement.

    Thanks!!

    Dozens of people have demanded that I leave the church. I do for awhile then go back. I just left again.

    I guess I struggle with who God is, my walk with him and that I’m not good enough for anyone.

    • Hold your daughter close today. Assure her of her value to you. Thank you for this mama’s heart, for this wife’s heart, for this believing heart. Show her the next step, Lord. It doesn’t have to be the whole journey, just the next step. As she walks toward that, may it be with assurance that You see her and are with her. In Jesus’ name.

  33. Good morning ladies,

    Observe:

    One thing that stood out to me is the very thing that I believe will help you to free yourself from the pain of others because it helped me. You can not control the choices of others, but you can control the choices you make. You also control what you respond to. Understand that we all will be held accountable for the choices that we make. But I don’t believe that God is going to ask me, Chelle why didn’t you decide that for your offender. We serve a very wise God who is not concerned with the foolishness of man. But he is willing to guide you into wisdom once you acknowledge your foolish ways. We can not allow the opinion of man to stop our ability to carry out the purposes that God has for us. God won’t stop his purposes until they are complete. And I would much rather be a willing participant of his purposes than a disgruntled spectator.

    Bible:

    The verse that Is speaking to me right now is 1 Corinthians 12:27. I am a part of the body of Christ. The desire that I have in me for my book club was given to me by God. I am not leaning unto my own understandings of how I think it should run. But in everything I do with it I look to God first. So when someone comes to me who doesn’t understand why a book club, I feel joy inside and not discouragement because I know that the work that God has begun in me, he is faithful to complete and soon they will be saying why not a book club. To God be the glory!

    Stretch:

    I don’t let the words of man affect me more than the words of God. I can forgive because I am choosing not to rehearse the reasons that I feel they should not be forgiven. Sometimes pride will not allow a person to admit when they have hurt you. So I choose to forgive anyway without expecting an apology or acknowledgement because forgiveness frees me from that person. It allows me to turn to God’s word and instead remind myself of the reasons why they should be forgiven and how easy it is to forgive when you let go and let God.

  34. Carissa says:

    I lived a lot of the hurt Amy lived in Chapter 1. The pastor was not my dad, but he was a very dominant, controlling and used psychological pressure to keep people in line. I spent my teen years in that environment–I was never good enough, my questions were all wrong and sinful, my desire to go to college and make a decent life for myself were wrong and there was no other church I could attend if I wanted to remain saved. The rulebook was long and cumbersome. His voice followed me when I moved to another city, and I eventually gave up having any faith for awhile, much like Amy described. The “elders” in that church did much damage. I figured since I was never good enough, I might as well just give up on being a Christian.

    Thanks be to God, He had other plans for me! It took several years and many stumbles along the way, but I met a good man who became my husband, and some great pastors and deacons who loved people, loved the Word and spoke truth to my hurting places. My road back to a loving Father started in a Catholic church (my husband grew up Catholic, so when we decided we wanted to attend worship together, that seemed logical). I certainly didn’t want to risk going back to anything that resembled my church I attended as a teen. Father Tom and Deacon Joe were just what I needed to see at that time–the love of God in what I thought was an unlikely place.

    When I ended up moving back home with my husband, we started looking for a place to worship. Pastor Eckert answered all my questions–EVERY one, and gave me seminary-level papers and studies in response to some of my more troublesome and complicated ones. I had the right to learn the full truth for myself! I learned that the “church” I attended and taught Sunday School in as a teenager was not even really Christian–they reject some of the primary beleifs of Christianity.

    It took YEARS, and a lot of bumps along the way, but God has me right where I am supposed to be now. I learned American Sign Language during the years I was in the worng church suffering religious abuse almost daily. I have a career as a certified sign language interpreter. I sang and taught Sunday School while I was in the wrong church for me. I am finally doing that where I am now. God even used that dark time in my life to help me serve Him now.

    If there are any sisters suffering this now, know that there is hope. There is a REAL LOVING God, and nothing can separate you from Him–Jesus already did the work to secure your salvation. We cannot possibly be or do enough to earn salvation. Don’t wait for years–He loves you now, right where you are, but wants to make things better.

    I would highly recommend Frank Peretti’s book “The Visitation” if you have experienced religious abuse, or wnat to better understand how it feels. My good pastor read it when we first joined our current church. I felt like Peretti was there in my teenage years, and wrote a powerful, inspiring piece of Christian fiction that resonates with those who have expeienced abuse in the name of salvation.

    Thanks to P31 for this study. Thanks to Suzie for being brave enough to talk about this, and to tell of hope. It still hurts some to remember those times. It hurts to remember the bad choices I made as a result. But the truth in her words, and the Scriptures she points out are a soothing balm to my soul.

    Carissa in eastern Iowa

  35. What stood out to me was hurting people hurt others. Those are very powerful words! I was hurt deeply by a man that I am truly in love with, but I am no longer with. But I realize he himself is hurting and I can’t change what he did or the choices he’s made. I can only control my actions not his. I have begun praying for him and I truly hope he finds the peace in his life that only Jesus can offer and that I can move on and heal from this hurt.

  36. Thank you for this chapter. After 41 years of being a Christian and never doubting the love of my Savior, the lack of grace shown from a pastor, his smart allec talking to me, his dragging my name through the mud in front of church because he didn’t care to find out what really went on but that he chose to be jury, judge, and executioner, and his attitude that love and grace is only for certain people have caused just that. I knew that he was wrong in everything that he did but it didn’t stop the stripping away of all my feelings. I think reading the passage of Matthew 23:1-4 was like reading a description of how this pastor was to me. Seeing him in this light does help in that I can see that God does know that there are people like him and that He knows that they are hurting others. I have a few good days here and there but most days I either feel nothing or I hurt so deeply that I feel that I am drowning in pain and sorrow. How can a man cause so much pain that I have been made to feel unloved by anyone, even my Savior and God?

  37. O- The church is a family. Even Family has to work through the good and the bad together if they want to create a thriving environment.
    B – 2nd Corinthians 5:17 – I know the word says I am a new Creation but I never feel that way. I must pray to accept God’s word…and not trust my feelings.
    S- Forgiveness is a wonderful gift. I make every effort to live a life of forgiving. What is strange or difficult for me to fathom is when someone hurts you and you forgive them and try and move on, they then become angry at you and cease communication, when they initiate the pain.

  38. Spiritual abuse is one of the most difficult harms that an individual can endure. Healing is slow and grieving through this tremendous loss in the most important area in your life is long and hard. If you’ve suffered this and are struggling, you are not alone.Jesus loves you so very much and He will never leave you. Often one of your biggest obstacles can be that others don’t really understand. I’ve been writing a blog for the past year on my own experiences with spiritual abuse. Friends from this blog referred me to this study, because they understood. They’ve been a good support to me over this past year, and I’ve realized knowing I’m not alone has helped me so much! If you need to know others understand, feel free to check out my blog at http://www.misunderstood.com. God bless all of you on this journey of healing with me.

  39. I pray that one of the things I observed in this chapter – that hurting people hurt people – will help me in my desire to forgive the person who hurt me. During my marriage, my husband was very involved in the church, always serving in leadership roles and teaching classes. He held himself up to me to have more faith than me, to be closer to God than me and on and on. He wounded me deeply and made me question whether I was good enough in the eyes of God. I then discovered my husband had a secret and was living a lie – and also being unfaithful in our marriage. He is still in a leadership role in the church we attended together. I am starting my life over as a single woman and now looking for a new church. My faith is strong as God has sustained me through these dark days. I am learning that I am good enough in His eyes because He made me in His image. I haven’t made it to forgiving my ex-husband yet. I know that is God’s will for me and I pray every day that He will bring me closer to forgiveness in my heart.

    • I’m so sorry you went through that. I pray that every last tangled emotion from this hurt lessens and lessens as God heals you and you discover renewed joy. <3 Praying with you today.

      Lord, I pray for this beautiful daughter of Yours, that today she will sense your faithfulness and love. You will never leave us or forsake us. She is beautiful in Your eyes for she is Your creation and child. Pour healing over the wounds left by her ex-husband. Thank you for future freedom as she released unforgiveness to discover freedom through and with You. In the name of Jesus, amen.

  40. Wrong link above it not misunderstood.com but http://wwww.ourunseenhope.com

  41. maribeth.thornsbury says:

    I cor. 5:17…a new creation is what I am. Sometimes I fall back into that old person but Good gives me just what I need to remember how he has forgiven me. This helps me remember just what he has done for me so I can remember to be loving toward others because He was loving toward me!!!

  42. Two things stood out to me in this chapter. The first items was “hurting people hurt people”. Ouch, oh so true. Often times we get caught up in our own mess that we cannot see past what we are going through. I can only pray that we strive to seek Jesus when we are hurting and to seek his help while we are hurting. He is much bigger than anything we are going through.

    In question 4 The first and fourth ones are the ones that stood out to me most.

    • Leslie Johnson P31 OBS Team says:

      The ‘hurting people hurt people” I am experiencing that at this moment. It hurts knowing that I have done nothing wrong, but they are turning it all against me. But that is the difference between those who have faith and those who don’t.

  43. SallyAnn says:

    When I first signed up for this bible study I was not sure what to expect. Then, almost two weeks ago as the world watched I young confused man walked into Emanuel AME church in Charleston South Carolina and took nine lives. One thing the young man did not count on was how the city, county, and state pulled together. God was here. The young man went to his bond hearing and the judge ask if the family had anything to say. All nine family members told the young man how they forgave him. God was already mending their hearts.

    I really never thought I had anything that needed to be mended. But I was wrong. While waiting to get my book I ask God “is there something that I need to have mended?” You know what He said? “Yes you do”.I had not seen my dad but maybe three times in the past two years and I live about 40 miles from him. It was nothing he did but what my step-mother did. Now my dad is 83 and my step-mother is 65. She said things to me about my children that really hurt me. So, I did not visit dad very much. Three weeks ago I decided to go to my dads. I called first to make sure it was alright . After church I drove the 40 miles to see him. He was so happy. He gave me the biggest hug. Then and there I knew I would be there every Sunday. I then started to read “The Mended Heart”. I knew I had to forgive and forget. The next Sunday I went to dads. Julie(dad’s wife) and I were the only ones in the pool. She began to ask me to forgive her. She told me that my dad was more than happy to see me. I for gave her not just for my dad but God gave me the grace to forgive her and really mean it.

  44. For me, one sentence that I underlined the first time I read the chapter (and stood out again to me the second time) was in reference to Jesus’ character when being tempted. “Powerful in humility even when no human eyes are turned his way.” This is how I want to live. I will be praying over this description of Jesus’ character that I can live in a way that reflects His character through my own words, thoughts, and actions. I also like the description of what draws people to a church: the drive to be “part of a mission to disciple the nations and to love one another.” What more do we need?

  45. A couple things stood out to me. It’s very true that “hurting people hurt people”. Also We worship “among” imperfect people, but we worship “only” our perfect Savior. Some days I feel surrounded by hypocrites, but I’ve also been one. I love 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I’ve memorized verse 7 and sent a text to my husband and kids with that verse. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Ending with a big I LOVE YOU. Frustrations or being hurt by someone else, can easily make us forget this. I plan on making this my mantra as I go throughout each day.

  46. We can’t be that person we were before the hurt, but there is a new thing brewing!! I’m excited about that!! The thing that struck me most was the part (pg 67) where Suzie is describing that even the Church in Bible days had issues. There is no such thing as a perfect church, just imperfect people worshiping and lifting up a perfect God. We need to give each other grace, and realize that perfection is not for Earth. We can strive for it, we can learn from mistakes and do better next time, but until Heaven not one of us will ever be perfect. It helps me put into perspective that Pastors struggle as much as the congregation. Maybe not in the same ways, but they are human too. And it’s OK to realize that they may be operating from hurt, and maybe we are to help them. We’re all Christians trying to make an impact on this sin-ridden world. No matter status in the church. Not once in the Bible does it ever say it’ll be easy, but always doable with God’s help!

    In question #4 it was Romans 12:9 that stuck out to me, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord” (AMP) Funny how the verse above it says about living peacefully with everyone. No coincidence there. Operating out of the hurt, only hurts more. It has taken me awhile to have this lesson sink in and take root in my heart. And I’m not 100% there yet, but I am getting better. I remind myself of all God’s given me grace for and it seems to calm my angry, anxious heart. Being thankful in that moment that God has shown me how to stop the cycle of hurt, and that maybe He can use me as a light to others in that way.

    Learning how to forgive is a very personal journey, I think we all have to look at ourselves and see what God has forgiven us for, and know that we need to operate out of that. God I just pray that all of us would learn to forgive and let go Lord. Let go of those hurts, and battle wounds we carry around. Let go of the issues we have with others and replace them with love. Just give us the opportunity to love on everyone we come in contact with today Lord. AMEN

  47. Two years ago I went on a ministry retreat with some women in our church. Among the attendees was our Women’s Ministry Director and two other female leaders in our church. What I had anticipated as a time of spiritual renewal and growth was just the opposite. Some of the women, including one in a very influential leadership role, behaved in a manner that was, shall we say, LESS than Christ-like. It was reminiscent of a college frat party. When I spoke up I was threatened and treated very poorly. One minister even broke my camera. She said she didn’t want me showing anyone any pictures of her doing the things she was doing. Needless to say I was devastated.
    But I had to learn to forgive those women. They were, like me, human. But I never thought about how it affected me. Reading Chapter 3 I have come to realize I still carry that hurt with me. It has kept me from forming relationships with others and it has kept me out of Bible study. This week I am going to open up to the Lord and allow Him to heal that broken spot in my spirit. I am going to not just forgive, but forget.

    • WOW Marcia- what a story. How sad that behavior came during a ministry retreat and awesome that you forgave them! I pray that you will find a Bible study soon; and that you are able to form relationships again. I hope you are able to open up to the Lord more this week and allow him to heal your hurt.

      Thank you for sharing!

  48. Observe — I shared the one thing that stood out to me from Chapter 3 to help us heal from our brokenness. What stood out to you?
    Amy’s story was very sobering to read. It made me want to reach out and give her a hug; tell her she IS worth something; she CAN say no and stand up for herself. How sad that these feelings came from dealings with her father.

    Bible — In #4 of the “Just You and God” section of Chapter 3, Suzie directs us to six verses. Look them up and share with us which of them speaks to you the most.
    Matthew 11:28-30 spoke to me the most of these verses; such a great reminder that Jesus will take my pain, my stress, my hurt–if I just let him. It’s a great reminder for me that I must pray more; must study my Bible more; must be more. I know this to be true-now to put it to action.

    Stretch — One part of the “Mended Heart Challenge” at the end of Chapter 3 is to forgive those who’ve hurt us. Seek God for one step you can take to move toward forgiveness.
    Father, I ask that you continue to help me forgive my husband for the hurt and pain he has caused me. I ask that when those old doubts creep up, you help me to repel them; to remind me that no matter what happens; you are there for me.

  49. Paula Enz says:

    Chapter 3 was very meaningful to me. Years ago I was hurt by people within the church by them not following through. As a result I stopped letting people get close. Page 67 “Even so, when we take our eyes off of one another and open our heart to a sovereign God, true community can take place. We are able to give grace to imperfect people (thankfully!) and grow together.”

  50. I was raised in a religious home where I was taught many wonderful things about our Savior and what he did for us. However, it was also a very rules-driven rigid lifestyle and an underlying pressure to fit a certain mold and take certain steps to earn our way back to Heaven. All the anxieties that come along with this ultimately drove me away from any relationship with God for years. I have been away from my family’s heritage of religion and custom for many years, but now regularly see my family and we are again close. Many of them still hold hopes that I will someday ‘rejoin the fold’ and return to righteousness. It’s curious and troubling to them that I don’t maintain the same practices and acts that they believe are my only path to God’s best. But now I realize that’s okay – they love me and maybe I’m teaching them to accept others and not try to covert everyone to their beliefs. Ultimately, despite their mindset being the same, God has helped me lovingly accept myself and also accept them along with all their faults. He helped ME change and let go of trying to argue my case to others. Churches are made of people – most of which have the best of intentions but like our book says, are flawed. I treasure the foundation in Christ my family built, but am now at peace with being on my own journey not based on a specific religion, but on relationship with God.

    • Hi Margaux,
      I can relate to your story. I left the Church of my heritage after I began listening to Christian radio and began studying God’s Word. I found a Bible believing, grace and prayer filled church. Some of my family didn’t understand the change I made and the old hopes that I would “rejoin the fold” and “come home” speeches would begin whenever their was a gathering of relatives. However, a strange thing happened, the Holy Spirit touched their hearts and many came to the same realization that I did and moved on to Bible based churches, but sadly, some left the church of our heritage and Christian faith altogether. As the old saying goes, sometimes we are the only epistle that others will read, and you seem to be a showing an good example of what true Christian faith is all about. So continue to pray for your family that God will touch their hearts and you might see them come to know The Truth one day!

      God’s Blessings to you,

      SUZIE (not Suzie Eller—another Suzie)

  51. Charlotte says:

    What stood out to me is how important it is for us to be in The Word. We need to let it pour over us, surround us and give us peace.
    The verse that spoke to me the most is 1 Corinthians 12:27. It helped me to remember I am a part of my church body. I have chosen to stay apart from the politics in the church, the “messy” stuff. But in doing so, I have formed very few close relationships. This bible study has helped me realize we all fall short but if we seek him and seek his truth we can take heart.
    I have been fortunate to find a church that feeds me with God’s truths. I have a richer appreciation for people being at differing points in their walk.

  52. I had this revelation out of my separate devotional time this morning.
    Jesus rescues the victim, and he redeems and restores her to victory.
    No hurt from my past, whether spiritual abuse or any other abuse, has the power to keep me in the role of a victim. Jesus paid for me at a precious price so I don’t have to live in the effects of sins of the past – sins of my own or those of others. His grace is so overwhelming and righteous and good! By that grace I am given hope for a good future and also a wonderful today. My today is changed by His grace because I don’t have to live in the pain of my past. THANK YOU JESUS! Oh the power of the precious Blood of Jesus washes me white as snow and puts a new, refreshed, redeemed spirit within me. My mind is renewed, and my hope is restored TODAY.

  53. Elizabeth Clark says:

    I’ve really never been hurt by any of the churches I’ve been too. I feel bless for that but I’ve been hurt by my mother. She is a loving mother but she has a hard time showing unconditional love to me. Part of that is because of the way she was raised by her mother and father. When I became a mother that was one of my main goals to show my 3 girls unconditional love no matter what. I’ve learned a lot since my divorce from my husband (July 2012) and I’m still learning. Going through this Bible study right now is helping me mend my hurt just not with my mother but also with my girls and ex husband because last Tuesday 6/23/15 the courts decided to let my 3 girls go live with their father and step-mother full time. Only reason is the courts allowed it is because my girls are old enough to make this decision. Even though Ive had peace about it because I’ve been praying I was still hurt and disappointed. I’m learning I still need to show my girls unconditionally love in this matter no matter what. Let them know I will always be there for them even though I want be part of their lives everyday. I only get standard visitation even though my ex got a whole week with them when they lived with me. I will be honest I don’t understand why all this is happening but I do know God has something marvelous in store for me. I know He is teaching me to trust in Him and keep leaning on Him.

    As for the 6 scriptures they all applied to me. Writing down and praying to God over them 6 scriptures helped me learn and see things that I don’t know if I would ever seen without writing them down. I have asked forgiveness before from my ex and he never responded back to my email but that’s ok. I did it because God lead me to do that so I was obeying God. I forgive my girls and I pray for them everyday and ask God to watch over them and ask God to guide them through everything.

    I just want to thank God and the ladies for doing what they were lead to do because between last bible study and this bible study I’ve learned a lot and I’m still growing in my walk with Jesus. Praise the Lord.

  54. Christina Burrell says:

    I completed the questions for chapter 3 last night and there were some I really had struggles with, especially sections where it mentions forgiving people. I totally agree this needs to happen in any hurt, but it has always have been hard especially when it comes to this topic.
    I did not grow up in a Christian family, so I did not get saved until high school. I started attending a youth group at a church that throughout the years had trouble with the politics on how to handle certain things (final results always favored the guys). The youth pastor would always try to get me to lead in ministries that I knew was not my calling and when I said no, he would continue asking until I wore down or laid some type of guilt trip.
    However, the worst of it was the guys that were in my youth group. Now, I have never been treated that well by non-Christian guys, but these guys claimed to be Christians and would tease me or some would inappropriately touch me or lead me to think they liked me to get something out of it. I never stopped it because at that time I was so desperate for a guy’s attention. This most of all broke me. It was one thing that a non-Christian did it, but for someone who supposedly shared the same faith was harder to forgive.
    Recently, I have been running into the people from this church and it has been opening these wounds I thought were healed. One of the guys that used to treat me very badly I had learned is now happily married with two children and is a part-time pastor had a new church. When I heard that, it left me so hurt. It sounds like he has worked out his issues, but I still struggle with trusting guys (I really don’t mean to sound bitter).

    I pray through this study, God will use it to help me to let down my guard to allow him to work so I can let in forgiveness, grace and of course healing.

    • I’m so sorry you received such a confusing view of Christianity. My heart hurts over that. It hurts for the girl you once were, and that it still hurts you today. Thank you for sharing so honestly. Thank you for being a part of this study.

      I wrote another book titled The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness. It’s gentle and I think when you are ready to read it, it could be so helpful. I hear your heart. You want to be untangled from the ties of the past. I believe forgiveness will be that path, but I pray you’ll allow that book to be a gentle voice in your ear that encourages you and helps you as you follow it. <3 You are brave and strong for sharing your story!

  55. Charmica says:

    Observe- One of the passages that stood out to me the most was ” The church is a vast, living organism comprised of flawed human beings.” I think sometimes we forget that church folk, especially the ones we look up too have “life” going on with them too. They hurt, and have issue just like the other person.

    Bible – I’m such a mess. Is there hope for me? & Do I matter in God’s plan for the church?
    These two speak to me the most. I sometimes feel as if me and all my mess is not worthy of God’s love and mercy. I question many times if He is even listening to my hearts cry for help, relief, strength, etc. After being hurt by the church, it’s been hard to want to get involved, I guess for fear of not fitting in or living up to their standards. I long for church companionship, but I’m afraid to open up again.

    Stretch – One step I can take to move towards forgiveness is to accept that I’ve been wounded by the wounded. I have to say out loud that the hurt was a part of the plan for God to refine me and move me in the direction He wants for me, not what I want for me. Looking in the mirror and saying out loud the names of the persons I need to forgive. I also need to be able to forgive myself.

  56. Sherri L says:

    So far I am learning from the blogs and from the book. I do have a question I did’nt quite understand. It says “The Body of Christ, when it works scriptually, is a powerful force for change and a light that beckons us to know God, but it will never be ideal.” From Chapter 3 page 67 under Our Very Different Experience the second paragraph.

    On today’s blog we are truly like plants that need to be fed and watered when we go to church also. I too know what the difference of staying home vs going into the sanctuary you can tell the difference. We need the support of our brothers and sisters to help us to stay encouraged. We also need to be very careful not to misjudge anyone from past experiences. Just as God has forgiven and forgot about the sin we need to embrace or brother and sister and do the same. Please continue to keep all in your prayers. Thank you also for this study. Proverbs 31 to me is a good blessing. God bless you all. Love you.

    • What I meant by that is that the church is intended to be good, to change the heart of people toward God, to heal the broken, to set the oppressed free. . . and yet God chooses ordinary people to work through.

      Does that answer your question? If not, keep asking and we’ll keep talking until it does. <3

  57. Kathleen says:

    I have struggled over the last year plus to fully forgive the leaders at a former church. I saw them, again and again, burn people close to us who were faithful servants of the body of Christ. And they burned us to the extent that my husband (once a leader of a large ministry within the church, as was I) and my daughter (once a worship leader in youth) really disengaged from their faith. We left that church about 18 months ago and I still feel fallout. It really saddens me, but I am convicted that I truly need to leave this behind and fully forgive. I’m getting there with the Lord’s help. Reading in chapter three that these people are messed up works in progress was a great reminder and helped me change my perspective, making the next steps in forgiving them a lot clearer and grace much easier to extend. The scars are still there, but I trust my Lord to bring his wandering sheep in my family back to his embrace.

  58. Observe — What stood out to you to heal from brokenness ?—To help heal from brokenness keep my eyes focused on Jesus, talk to Him daily and develop a relationship with Him. Study scriptures for myself don’t count on others to spiritually feed me. (and I also add, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world”–1John 4:1).

    Bible — In #4 of the “Just You and God” section of Chapter 3, Suzie directs us to six verses. Look them up and share with us which of them speaks to you the most. Because of my Catholic background which seemed to focus on works and striving to do right so God would love me, I still occasionally feel that I don’t know if Jesus loves me, especially if I do something wrong so the verse that spoke to me is Romans 8:37-39-(In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor dept nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!). This verse is like a salve that heals and shows how deep Jesus’s love is for me!—I’ve written this verse out in my Quiet Time Journal and will recite it daily!.

    Stretch — One part of the “Mended Heart Challenge” at the end of Chapter 3 is to forgive those who’ve hurt us. Seek God for one step you can take to move toward forgiveness. Through another Bible Study and digging into His Work, I think I have made strides towards forgiveness—I do remember the good priests that DID teach the Word Of God and even started Bible Studies. I have forgiven my dad for the verbal abuse and emotional pain he caused our family. My sister has done things in the past to hurt me, but we have made great strives in our relationship, and our friendship has really grown over the last couple of years, although, like Katrina mentioned, sometimes “bugs” do pop up to attack the roots we have grown, I think it is Satan, whose mad at the progress we’ve made.

    So Father I ask that through you that I forgive others who hurt me. And remember that even when you were mocked, spit upon, and insulted you asked God to forgive your persecutors, may I follow your example and forgive others, and remember how you still love me despite my sins!. Amen.

  59. I have not been hurt by the church, but my husband has. He was a deacon at his church and he went to the elders with something he struggled with. He didn’t love his first wife like he should have. They were married for 10yrs and he was miserable. They got married b/c she got pregnant at a young age. Anyway, they decided to separate and later divorce. I didn’t meet him until 5 yrs later. The church turned their backs on him. About the same time, his pastor that he knew well came out and said he was having an inappropriate relationship with an 18 y/o boy. That shocked my husband b/c he looked up to this pastor. My husband said that he has been hurt by spiritual mentors or they have let him down. I pray daily that God will work on his heart so he can become the spiritual leader of our family. We go to church, but I feel my husband is a little closed off from being hurt by other believers. I will definitely have to share these chapters with him in hopes that God will change his heart, he will forgive those who hurt him, and he will become the spiritual leader of our family that God and I know he can be.

    • Missy (P31 OBS Study Leader) says:

      Alicia, I’m praying, with you, that God will work healing in your husband’s heart.

  60. The verse that struck me was 1 Corinthians 12:27. I always question what I am supposed to be doing in the church body. I’ve served in Sunday School for the last almost 3 years and sometimes I feel bad because lately I’ve not felt that it was what I was being called to. While I adore the kids, I feel like sometimes someone would be better to teach them since my heart is not as connected to it as I feel it should be, which leads me to question what is my role in the Church and do I even matter.

    • Sometimes we have seasons. I worked with teens for years. Stepping out of that ministry to minister to women was hard, but it was time. There are other times we just need to be restored and refreshed in the ministry that we are in.

  61. The abused young lady who learned she had no voice n as a result she found herself not being able to say no to men n set boundaries …this is me! I am doing much better but I recognize this in me. In order to overcome this: recognizing this problem is first than overcoming by staying in the yoke with the Lord each day instead of doing my own thing! I can forgive others by remembering that the Lord will take care of their punishment I don’t have to take matters in my own hands!

  62. Mary Converse says:

    For me, in order to keep my focus on truth, I can only count on the words in the Bible. If it’s not a quote straight from the Bible and in context, then it comes from a man or woman who is a sinner just like me. So the confidence that I have comes from knowing what the Bible says. I believe in its inerrancy and I believe that it contains all that I need for spiritual growth.
    I have heard or read so many testimonies of how someone either in the church or the family has hurt another person and I know there is no forgiveness apart from that which Jesus can give us. There is no joy apart from Christ. The bitterness will creep back in if we don’t stay with our eyes fixed on the upward calling of Jesus. All men and women are sinners. They will all let us down eventually. Jesus is the only perfection we can trust in completely.

  63. What really got to me in Chapter 3 is the realization that there is no such thing as a perfect church. Church is the same as a family unit. I love that. It’s so easy to lose sight of the whole reason for being in church. We cannot lose our focus.

  64. In my journey of forgiveness, I seem to take two steps forward and one step back. I know that God wants me to forgive, but I just cannot seem to let go completely. My question is, does the hurt and pain that someone has caused ever go away entirely, or is it how we respond to the hurt and pain?

  65. Hello glad to be here

  66. Missy (P31 OBS Study Leader) says:

    Katrina, these words, “And because I know He treasures the church, I treasure it all the more too.” really spoke into my heart. Thank you.

  67. The following two quotes stood out to me from Chapter 3:
    “The longer I call myself a Christian, the more I realize what a mess God has to work with at times (myself included) and why it is so important that He remain the apple of my eye”. (pg. 67)
    “When we take our eyes off of one another and open our heart to a sovereign God, true community can take place”. (pg.67)

    Suzie, I loved how you showed a contrast between abuse , which is self-centered (“the use of manipulation, guilt and fear to control and manipulate behavior in the name of God”) and servanthood- which is others-centered (it’s not for a show of power, to build my own little kingdom, or to showcase my talents or abilities – it’s to build up others and to see them become who God designed them to be). We are all stewards – not owners of the authority that has been given to us. May God Help Us!

  68. The statement that stood out the most to me was ” Truth is our first and greatest weapon against spiritual abuse.(Page 68). It spoke to me that Truth is Jesus Christ and The WORD. It has to line up with that if not let it go. Last week I shared how a church member(long forgotten) yet had a lasting impact on how I viewed God and others as well. Today I can honestly say that God has definitely done a new thing within my heart, mind and soul. I have forgiven this woman and her words and pray that over the years she too had learned that things that happen are not punishment from God. God loves us so much, we are His divine creation that He rejoices over, searches for us to bring us back into the fold when we are straying. It is my prayer that my words and actions toward others would be used to edify them and to glorify my Savior. The verse that stood out the most to me was 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. My life has been a mess and God has brought me to a place of peace and joy. This study has helped already to make my joy blossom even more, I know where I came from and I know who has brought me to where I am. I am truly grateful for His Love Mercy and Grace. When others say little things that hurt my feelings I normally look at them and think that they are no different than me, a sinner saved by grace. I am reminded that Christ forgave me, who am I to withhold forgiveness to them, it isn’t for them it is for me and I guess you could say that I am selfish in that aspect, I don’t like to let anything stand between me and my Savior, He is my lifeline and I know this and do not want to let it go. I pray that my words and actions would bring Him glory and honor.

  69. Thanks for encouraging me today! I’m reading chapter 3 now. Thanks again!

    Tayrina

  70. Michelle C. says:

    I really got an ‘aha’ moment reading ‘the reality is that this thing called The Church isn’t perfect and it’s filled with people who range from saint to sinner and everyone in between. But in the mix is Jesus.’ I have had so many people tell me they are spiritual but don’t think they need the church because they church has let them down in some way. With this new paradigm I feel better equipped to respond to those individuals – ‘the church’ won’t be perfect but Jesus is and He is what church is all about. ‘The church is full of walking wounded’ and we need to embrace that and that truth is our greatest weapon against spiritual abuse.

  71. I feel as though I’ve gone backwards two steps. My husband and I went through spiritual abuse at a church & we are still healing. Our marriage was greatly affected. We are both hurting people hurting each other.

  72. anonymous says:

    Sometimes new things can be scary though! How do you work through that? I’m scared to step into a new thing that God has for me.

    • You do it afraid. That’s my mantra in healing. I surrender and I step into it with all my baggage, with all my fears, and I trust that God will meet me there.

  73. Hello Sisters,
    I’m already blessed by these chapters and study thus far! Thank-you.

    What stood out to me, is how Christ had power and authority beyond measure, yet never once used it for His own gain or good. Suzie depicts the scene on page 67-68, “In the wilderness, the enemy desperately tried to distract Jesus from the mission. He tempted Him with power. With food when His stomach was clenched tight with hunger. With illusions of glory. Satan reached into the core of every felt need that Jesus was experiencing and dangled temptation with a calculated goal.”

    The mission, the people, obedience to the Father came before His own desires, needs and wants. And it causes me to well inside with joy. It’s good and healthy to be in a sheep fold taught from a shepherd who exemplifies the only one Good Shepherd; but when leaders fall from grace or missed the mark, ones in which we’ve looked to – we can take comfort that Christ who had more power than anyone on a platform today or yesterday; lovingly laid His down, put it aside, to become our perfect teacher, preacher, Shepherd and leader. It comforts me greatly that He will never fall from truth, get distracted, forget the mission, get off course, or fail His flock.
    He is one who has authority and is worthy of our bowing the knee in reverent awe!
    Knowing that His leadership is flawless, focuses my gaze more upon His perfection and submitted power, and that really does bring much peace, joy and comfort to my soul.

  74. What stood out to me was on page 62, “It’s the attitude of a servant who obeys the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit even in the hardest of places, and who lives so that others might gain a glimpse of God’s glory.” May 2014 my husband left me, told me he was no longer in love with me, and wanted a divorce. For the first seven years of our marriage my husband had several indiscretions and I had not responded to them well. I was sure there was another woman and indeed there was. I was devastated but turned to God’s Word and prayer. That still small voice instructed me that I was to lay claim to His promises and fight for my marriage. It was a very difficult summer, yet I grew so much as a Christian and discovered so many blessings from God. At the end of August my husband moved back home. It hasn’t been easy, yet we are closer than we have ever been. It has been a great testimony to others in our church. God can restore anything. I am thankful for this study as my heart continues to heal.

  75. Jessica A says:

    Observe — I shared the one thing that stood out to me from Chapter 3 to help us heal from our brokenness. What stood out to you?
    The thing that stood out to me is the fact that those who hurt me were probably just hurting as well. I have to forgive them and understand that they need Jesus as much as I do. We’re all not perfect and I need to forgive them just as Christ forgives me. Forgiving them is more for me than for them. I can’t move on if I hold onto the hurt.

    Bible — In #4 of the “Just You and God” section of Chapter 3, Suzie directs us to six verses. Look them up and share with us which of them speaks to you the most.
    The one about revenge, Romans 12:19. I need to let the Lord take care of it for me. He can heal me from the pain.

  76. Kate Fermani says:

    I find this study to be profound- thought provoking, insightful, and somewhat like peeling off a bandaid from tender skin, at times. At 59 years, I thought I processed so much of my past with Abba….but as I read I realize there is more work to be done along with prayer and giving each piece of my heart and life that I didn’t realize I was withholding. I’m grateful for this. I am truly grateful that Susie included the chapter of hurts by the church. It’s done so well. I have loved the Lord as long as I can remember- but always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole with church. Fellowship is so sweet, but being an imperfect being in an imperfect church family is discouraging at times. I can’t wait to find out what it’s really like to worship Him in Heaven. Thank you, Susie and all the leaders. This is a blessing!

  77. Janice Bittner says:

    People who hurt others, who cause brokenness in others, are almost always hurt and broken themselves. By acknowledging their hurt, I can more easily stop letting their words and/or actions continue to hurt me. And now, knowing that, I can begin to look more deeply at how I may have let my hurt and brokenness in turn hurt others.

  78. MA Slade says:

    I was HURT and devastated several years ago by the place I thought I was the safest. Church. My church also has a school, and my daughter went there. She was a junior in high school acting out with some rebellion. One evening, when she told me sure and a friend were going to a movie, they actually went to a party. My daughter was raped by a fellow student. She did not tell me, but her bad behavior began spiralling downward. Three months later the truth came out. I went to the pastor, youth pastor and Head Mistress of the school. Nothing but platitudes. My good friends dropped me like a hot potato. We were damaged goods. Church became the enemy. I was angry at God. I stopped going to church. My daughter hated church and everything associated with it. She hated God. Walking away from.God’s protection is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Not only did my daughter fall deeper into sin, but I did as well. I am at a different church now and have been for five years. My daughter goes also. Sadly, this church has given very little love. I feel as “New” today as I did my first time. I continued because that is where my husband wanted to go. Recently he has felt a coldness in the church body and he is ready to go to another church. Please pray for us. I realize that I will be part of that body. I do not want to be a useless or even harmful part of that body. Pray we seek God’s choice for us and that we are faithful. I read that Suzanne almost didn’t put this chapter in this book. I’m so glad you did Suzanne.

  79. What stood out to me was on page 71 where Suzi says that I am “free to search out scriptures and find a healthy body of believers with whom to worship and fellowship. If you fear the rejection of those who might not like what you are doing, then reassess the power they hold over your heart.” Oh, this is me! Living in an extremely small rural community it is almost impossible to leave your church. My church family does have a hold over my heart and I feel helpless. I so desire to be part of a healthy, active body of believers and yet guilty to think about leaving my current church behind. I struggle to know my role in staying and working to improve where I am or should I leave it behind at the risk of having no where else really to go other than worship at home in hopes of creating a new community of believers. My heart aches over this and as a perfectionist extroidinaire I want to do the right thing. I don’t want to let God down….or anyone for that matter.

  80. Nancy Griggs says:

    The one thing that stood out for me in Chapter 3 was that distorted religion can hurt your heart, but Jesus reclaims it.

  81. Hello ladies,

    I haven’t been seriously hurt by the church but one thing I have experienced is racism in the church. for a moment I wanted to quit going to church but then I realized that it was a heart issue And had nothing to do with me. I had to let God deal with them. All I could do is pray and love people. We can all hurt others in the church for one reason or another. Sometimes we may not realize it. Just yesterday I was on Facebook and saw pictures of some church friends who were out partying and drinking and my first thought was , ” that’s not the way a Christian person should behave” and then I was convicted because I don’t want to be judgemental. this chapter has really helped me a lot not only to forgive the people who have made feel less than but also to make sure I treat the church like God’s treasure as well. And make sure I’m sensitive to other people’s feelings and focus on loving imperfect people because I’m also imperfect.

  82. allenia says:

    One thing we have to rember that we are all sinners even in the church they are the same as us and can wound with words. I had that happen many years ago. Today I choose to forgive the women who wounded me with her worlds today is a new day.thank you for healing my heart.

  83. I am realizing how much I was hurt by our church, I had stuffed it and just put all the blame on myself and quit going there. I too , like Nikki, was rejected and dealt with rumors and hurtful remarks that were not true. We are at a new church now but it took some time and I see that there are broken and imperfect people there too, but I can feel the Holy Spirit there and feel the love from the pastors and leaders there. I want to be a part of this church and serve but we are taking it pretty slow yet. It is hard for me to trust. I have been pulling on the boot straps for a long time! Instead of hating my old church I can now pray for them. This chapter will be a great start for me in mending. Thank you, Suzie, for not leaving this chapter out!

  84. OBSERVE: This is what stood out to me in Chapter 3…
    Amy said, “ Hurting people hurt people…The Church is full of… the walking wounded. Just because someone is a follower of Christ doesn’t mean they are not deeply broken.”
    This helped me so much to see those Christians that have hurt me in a different light. They may be the ‘walking wounded’ and their actions and words may be coming from a place of hurt. It is far easier to forgive and extend grace to ‘those’ people.
    BIBLE: This Scripture verse stood out to me because although I go to church faithfully I’ve never thought I have anything worthwhile to offer. Now I KNOW I’m a PART of my church and whatever it is, I do have something to offer.
    “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 Mess) I love this.

  85. Jenn B. says:

    Hi everyone! What spoke to me most in Chapter 3 was on p. 72 “The Church is a vast, living organism comprised of flawed human beings.” That was a wonderful reminder for me that we are all sinners, we all have our own issues that we need to bring before God. I find myself putting people up from my congregation on pedestals in the church. I sometimes think “I’m never going to be as devoted as so and so is, or wow, look at what so and so is able to do for the church, I don’t have time.” I am the music minister at my church, and because I am in a leadership position, I find that I struggle with that need for perfection in my life because God is using me to praise Him, and open and prepare the hearts of people in my congregation to hear His word and the message. I have been blessed in my life, that I haven’t really experienced any “religious abuse.”
    The passage that spoke to me the most was 2 Corinthians 5:17. I struggle with letting my “old” go; feeling worthy of God’s love, forgiveness and unending grace. I know none of us are worthy, but for some reason I seem to think I’m an extra exception to that rule.

  86. Study question 4 was a good read for me. I enjoyed seeing my fears and excuses of why I don’t pursue my faith more or try to connect with other believers more. Looking up each passage, it was so amazing that I already had them underlined! Those truths had spoken to me before and now I wrote a little bit in the margin to help me recognize the truth in a more personal way. Matthew 11:28-30 spoke to me the most. I tend to let my laziness and past mistakes control my life in every situation. Reaffirming that walking life with Jesus is 10 times easier than on my own. I need to continually turn to him everyday for rest!

  87. Forgiveness is a tough one. Many times I thought I had forgiven, I said it and made the choice to move from it, but then it comes up again. Maybe forgiving and forgetting are not to of the same? How do you deal with it when it comes up again?

    • Forgiving and forgetting are not the same at all. We don’t whitewash our memories, but as we forgive the power those memories hold lessen. They become a chapter in our story rather than our identity. <3 I hope that clarifies this for you.

      • Thank you for that Suzie. I was deeply hurt by the two men that should have made me feel loved, cherished and safe, my father and ex-husband. I have forgiven them both but so dislike that there are triggers that can bring up those memories in a flash and at times start the tears flowing. I know I have come a long ways from where I used to be. But the beautiful thing is that I have been able to minister to others at times because of what I have been through.

  88. I just want to tell you that the verses from Just You and God are 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:27. My sad experience happened when I was very young. I will admit that it took me a very long time to forgive the pastor. I have forgiven him but the hurt was still hiding.
    I am learning with this Bible study to let go of the hurt. What happened did not keep me from going to church. When my family came back to California I was very lucky to find a good church. Where I was loved and helped to grow. I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 13.
    I will admit it has been an up and down battle. But I am learning. Right now I am looking for a church home where I can grow. I know that God will send me to the right church.
    My prayer is for all the women in this course to have a ‘mended heart’ to grow in God’s love for us.

  89. I was impressed with the words “hurting people hurt people”! The ones who hurt by their words and actions are generally the ones who need the most love and forgiveness. I’ve been praying for a gal and one of the thoughts was that I am so imperfect but am reminded that it is His righteousness that God sees when he listen to our prayers. Surrender!

  90. I am asking God to help me be willing to forgive the teacher who molested me as a teenager. I have asked a good friend why I have to forgive and she said “how free do you want to be?” I want to be free from the past and the hurt of the past. I want to be full and entirely healed so that I no longer have to cringe when touched, or shut off parts of my life which injures me and others. I pray for the strength and abilitiy to forgive just as Jesus forgave me as He hung on the cross with every one of my sins on Him. I am so excited about what is happening in my life. Since this study started I have been in more conscious contact with God, praying (something I used to only do when my pants were on fire!) and reading the word. Thank you all for leading this study. I am feeling alive.

    • Ruth, I love how you share your need, and I agree with you. I’m so sorry that happened, I’m also grateful that God is doing a new work in your heart, just because you are His. Stick with us. Let us know what God is doing as healing continues (and will continue for a long time).

  91. Tammy Barnard says:

    Hi ladies,
    I don’t think I have been hurt by the church. Most certainly by a person who proclaimed he was a Christian. Led music service, but behind closed doors he was a demon. My step-father.
    I highlighted this portion in chapter 3~ when you follow Christ, there should be no walls that hold you in, isolating you from others who love Jesus. I can recall isolating myself from others.
    I also highlighted Romans12:19″ Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. I’m sure glad He’s got my back.
    Forgiveness has freed me greatly. It is the hardest to forgive myself- at least it is for me~ I’m my own worst critic. But, I’m learning. Grateful God sees my worth. He KNOWS what I’ve gone through. And although, I don’t know what lies ahead- I’m certain It will be more grand than I could have ever dreamt if.

  92. I’m reading a lot of stories of women here who have gone through infidelity in their marriages. I am going through that also. My husband however did not leave me and confessed his infidelity very long after it happened. I’m struggling very much, not so much with the forgiving, but with getting past the hurt enough to be in relationship with him again. Many of your stories have ended in divorce, and I know how painful that is as I am also a child of divorced parents. I don’t want a divorce for myself or my kids, but I don’t quite know how to heal without detaching. Does anyone have any experience or anything to speak to this?

    • Missy, would you consider getting one more resource? I wrote a book called THe Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness. I believe it could be a gentle, helpful tool for you.

  93. Susie Larsen says:

    I have experienced how we can be hurt by the church. About 12 years ago I was on a search committee for a senior pastor. Our youth pastor wanted to be considered for the position. The church decided we should look at him alone first, and if God did not lead us to propose him to be our senior pastor , then we would open the search up for applications. We prayed, spoke to references and he and his wife. God spoke to our hearts that he was not the one to be our senior pastor. He did not take it well. He spoke to the youth about the committee and called us liars. He spoke to various people in the church and bad mouthed us. Many people said hurtful things. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and all of the while we were following God.

  94. Susie Larsen says:

    Matt. 11:27-30 really spoke to my heart. I am very weary. In 2013 my mother became very ill with a multitude of problems. She was back and forth between the hospital and the health center at the place they lived. My Mom became very angry about having to be in the health center and not in the apartment with my Dad. It was hard to listen to her unreasonable anger. Thankfully, when she came back from the hospital the last time to the health center in Cimfort Care, she was finally at peace. She died 1 year ago 4 days before my son’s wedding and my parents’ 60th Anniversary. My Dad (who is almost 92) started dating a young 80 year old friend of my mother’s (my mother was 94). They have gotten very serious, very fast . I feel like I had no time to grieve for my mother. My Dad is also having a lot of health problems, too. I also found out recently I have an aortic aneurysm and I am seeing doctors about that. I am supposed to keep the stress and my blood pressure down. I am so tired and weary. I need to leave my burdens at the feet of Jesus, and he will give me rest for my soul.

    • Jesus invites you to come CONFIDETLY to HIM for GRACE to get through this. It is hard for a man to be alone, at least that is what everyone tells me. I have seen this happen over and over when a man looses his wife he moves on before the children are ready to accept it. I know it is hard for you just now, especially with all the rest of your issues. I also KNOW with out a doubt that God is there for you. When you can’t make it on your own HE will carry you! I am lifting you in prayer as I write these words, trusting that God is with you and will bring you through the fire and flood! God Bless you today and always.

  95. Wow! What a POWERFUL testimony! Yes, I am ready ~ I’m soaking in His Word and He is delivering me from some really deep-rooted fears. Taking me back to when I was elementary school age. I didn’t realize how much healing I needed. Wow! Thanks for this AWESOME Bible study! God is doing mighty things I believe. He is in my life. And I’m so thankful. It may be a long process but I’m realizing a deeper level of God’s love for me and it is awesome. His perfect love is casting out my fears.

    I liked this paragraph a lot in Suzie’s book -chapter 3, page 62:
    “Instead, Jesus replied, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him’ (Luke 4:8). In this snapshot, we view the heart of true Christian leadership. It’s the attitude of a servant who obeys the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit, even in the hardest places, and who lives so that others might gain a glimpse of God’s glory”.

    May the Lord use our lives for His glory~ even the hardest places. In Jesus’ name, Amen! (Romans 8:28)

  96. Audra Heinman (Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS Team) says:

    Observe — I am incredibly blessed by the thought of all of us imperfect people worshiping The Perfect Savior. So and so isn’t better than me because they sing better. So and so that hurt me all those years ago when I looked to THEM in church instead of to Our Lord. Eyes on Him. A focus shift. I think I still need that today. 🙂

  97. Kimberly says:

    Observe~”The church is a vast, living organism comprised of flawed human beings…I can allow broken or work-in-progress or messy people to lead me away from the power and spirit of my faith, or I can see my own work in progress heart in the process. We simply will not find a church without varied personalities, or where there are never things that need to be worked out and prayed through.” Absolute truth!

    • That spoke to me the most too Kimberly! I like how Nikki said in her video that the church is a hospital for the broken.

  98. Bible-the verses referred to for “I don’t know if Jesus really loves me” & “I’m such a mess. Is there hope for me?”. The verses that answer these questions will be written on post it notes & placed throughout my home. My brokenness comes from my own actions & having to deal with the consequences of those actions. Part of which has been the lost relationship between myself and one of my daughters. I struggle daily with how could Jesus possibly love me after what I’ve done? And I do consider myself to be a total mess. It has taken almost 3 years just to get to the point of forgiving myself. And I’ve really only done so because if God has forgiven me, then I must do the same. The broken relationship with my daughter is the largest part of the broken I’m trying to allow God to put back together. I had to turn her over to Him, just to keep from committing suicide because that was how distraught I had become. I still hurt & I still cry & I still wish I could do it all over. but I’ve also been trying to rely on Philippians 3:13-14: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…

  99. The part that stood out most to me was on page 72 where Suzie describes the church as a loving organism comprised of flawed human beings. We are drawn the to be a part of a mission and love others. We can accept that all the people we meet there with are broken, messy, flawed people like us or we can allow their faults pull us away from the Spirit. We won’t find a church that doesn’t have these type of people in it. I wish all people, especially non-chritians and new Christians undsrstood this. I’ve walked into church so many times thinking the people there were perfect or expecting them to be perfect. Ultimately I was let down when one of them unintentionally did something that hurt my feelings. We are there because we admit we need a Savior.

    The verse that spoke to me the most was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 I wish I could say I truly know what Jesus’ love is like. I wish I could understand or comprehend. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a love close to this. If I could name one person who came close it qould be my Mema. When i try to think of his love in human terms i think of her. Patient, sacrificial, kind, accepting, forgiving. I pray to be able to reflect love like that, like Jesus does.

    One step I could take toward forgiving is committing to love the people who have hurt me regardless of whether or not I feel they have deserved it. Not just feel love, but also express it through gestures, words, or actions. This will be difficult but I know God will help me with it since I have committed to it here before you all.

  100. Nicole Hamblin says:

    I haven’t been spiritually abused by anyone in or through the church, but the verses we looked up spoke to me in different ways. The one that speaks most to where I am now is 2 Cor 5:17 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation: the old is gone, the new is here!’ I need to focus on God’s grace and acceptance of me each day so that I can (personally) let go of the old and embrace my new.

  101. Observe: The thing that spoke to me was a statement on page 68 “truth is our first and greatest weapon against spiritual abuse.” Going to God’s word when faced with spiritual abuse and learning His truth enables us to stand firm in our faith rather than being beaten down by others who are not sharing God’s love.

    Bible: The verse that speaks most to me is I Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it”. I have often wondered if I do have a part in the church, more than just coming to worship and going home. This verse reminds me that I am also a vital part of His church and I do have a role. My responsibility is to listen to God and discover what His plan for me within the church may be.

    Stretch: Lord, as instructed in your word, I ask that you fill me with your strength to forgive grievances I have against others just as have forgiven me. (Colossians 3:13)

  102. Danielle S says:

    I’ve definitely been hurt by the church through things done to my family and said about my family. It took a long time to forgive that hurt and it did drive me away. It was a long time before I went back to a church, and when I did, it wasn’t the church I had grown up in. I lost old friendships over finding a new church, but God has taken away that hurt and filled the void with Him. And I have made a few new friends along the way, too. This chapter has given me a little perspective on those that hurt me, though. Especially when Suzanne spoke about the church being made up of flawed human beings. Sometimes that’s easy to forget.

  103. Shannon C. says:

    Observe – What stood out to me is the statement, ‘hurting people hurt people” on pg. 73. My relationship with Jesus is a personal decision and one I am excited, happy and humble to be a part of and be in His presence. This is important to me because there was a time when I believed there was a certain way to behave and earn his love. Growing up and being the oldest granddaughter, my grandmother told me that God did not want me to date because dating was a sin. (She wanted me to join a convent and told people that without asking me if that’s what I wanted to do). Of course, I didn’t do it and for many years, she was angry with me.
    Bible – The verse that speaks to me the most is Psalm 147:3-6 which says, 3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. 5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power, his understanding has no limit. 6 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. When people make unjust comments about me on things I used to say or do, I tell them that God accepts me as I am. I know that I won’t please everyone but God loves me and I thank him for his grace and mercy.
    Stretch – I will believe God’s Word for my life. I am being delivered from wrong thoughts and healing in my life. I am loved, accepted and taken care of by my Heavenly Father.

  104. I grew up in a legalistic church. I was NEVER good enough, or so I thought and so I was told by some of my family. So I finally gave up on the church, but not on God. I needed Him too much because I kept making a mess of my life. GRACE! Like I never had known came through an AlAnon group. It led me back to church. There is never a perfect church, we are all imperfect people who are trying to live in God’s love and grace.
    The first time through this book I found forgiveness for my sister who had many issues with my life. This time I am hoping to find ways to forgive others who hurt me with their legalism and come to understand how I can not hurt other as I find my way through this world

  105. I am a pastor’s daughter and grew up in loving churches, but have always been very sensitive to the hurts of others because of my father’s shepherd heart. What I really take from this (and I was actually able to use it in a conversation with a non-church goer today…yay!) Is that at it’s core, the church is simply a gathering of people so need Jesus. If we can remind ourselves of this when the troubles come, we have already put our focus back on the One who can heal our hurts. Receiving such a blessing from the posts tonight!!!

  106. Brenda Ann says:

    Observe — I shared the one thing that stood out to me from Chapter 3 to help us heal from our brokenness. What stood out to you?
    * “The Jesus Factor” stood out to me because I know I don’t always remember Jesus when I need to. I need to make it an automatic habit. That’s where reading the Word/Truth every day comes in. I do devotionals every day but sometime it seems so rote that I don’t seem to get much from it. Probably because I usually just simply read them without much thought involved. Need to work on that.

    Bible — In #4 of the “Just You and God” section of Chapter 3, Suzie directs us to six verses. Look them up and share with us which of them speaks to you the most.
    * I’m such a mess. Is there hope for me?-Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
    *According to this there is definitely hope for me!

    * I want to show Jesus’ love, but I don’t know what it even looks like-Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
    *I’m surprised I didn’t think of this one but I probably didn’t because of the “Human Factor”. I’ve always read this passage from a human standpoint.

    * Do I matter in God’s plan for the Church?-Read 1 Corinthians 12:27 — Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
    *Yes, I am a part of God’s plan!

    Stretch — One part of the “Mended Heart Challenge” at the end of Chapter 3 is to forgive those who’ve hurt us. Seek God for one step you can take to move toward forgiveness.
    * Prayer has always been a good first step for me. The hard part is doing it from the heart.

  107. Observe
    I have not been a part of many churches. I attended church for about a year when I was 15 and I have not attended a church since. I had a positive experience! Therefore, I have never experienced spiritual abuse. However, I can understand the spiritual distortion experienced. This is something that has irked me in the past! I want honest answers. I don’t want scripture to be manipulated and taken out of context to fit an agenda! Often, we need to delve into scripture ourselves rather than relying on others! Suzie Eller emphasizes this when she says, “We gain confidence in this truth as we study Scripture for ourselves, seek Godly counsel, and pray for wisdom”.
    In fact, I discovered this as I delved deeper into Jacob’s story from last week’s Conference Call. I realized much more about Jacob than could be explained in one short hour. I began to question just how “unfair” the deception of him was; Jacob’s name alone is a metaphor for deceit! I began to feel like God was showing consequences for behavior rather than it being unfair. I loved this insight. Furthermore, the scripture revealed that all of the people within this story had major flaws, just like you and me. It is easy to place Biblical “characters” on pedestals, but this is an error.

    Bible
    I selected “I want to show Jesus’ love, but I don’t know what it looks like.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
    This is the well-known “love is patient, love is kind”. I need to embrace this verse more often and apply it to all situations and relationships.

  108. Observe — Hurting people hurt people – how true this is, no matter if you are a member of the church being hurt by those in leadership or another church member or if you are the clergy being hurt by the members of your church. I have been on both sides of the fence and the pain went deep and caused me to question my faith, my calling, and if God really did care about me.
    Bible — 2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation in Christ! Praise God!
    Stretch — Forgiveness is a choice and one I MUST choose it if I want to be like Christ. Carrying unforgiveness in my heart just makes me hurt all the more and even become bitter. That is not the life Christ wants us to have and it took me a long time to realize that. But once I did, I found forgiveness gave me freedom to love more and to trust God much deeper. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times it seems to take forever but the pain always goes away.
    Thank you Suzie for this book and thank you Proverbs 31 Ministries for this study – I’m loving it! God bless us all!

  109. Chapter 3 really hit home for me because I was hurt by a member of my church when she tore into me for not telling her about my period of sadness, as if I wasn’t feeling bad enough, and then she told me my heart wasn’t right with God. Additionally, the leaders who got involved sided with her. Some of what I’ve learned is that hurt people hurt people. I liked what Suzie said in Chapter 3 that we worship among imperfect people but we worship a perfect God. I’ve learned that even people in leadership are not perfect and they are not God.

  110. Patricia Q. says:

    “A person or doctrine is peripheral to our focus on our Savior.That’s how a person can avoid having their faith shipwrecked.”

    2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation.

    You have to forgive to be able to let go. For me it was a burden lifted off of me and I was released which I could not see until I forgave. The Lord does know but we have to listen. I just thank the Lord for His enduring love for me and His body.

  111. Teresa Gines says:

    I discovered something different in 1 Cor 13:4-8 in light of some current events. I am actually not receiving this kind of love from a loved one tgat is Christian. And I was finding it very difficult to operate in return with the love 1 Cor 13. talks about. I am tending to want to rebel and push back and withhold this! Not thinking vengeful necessarily, just not humbling myself enough to show this kind of love no matter what.

  112. These past couple of days have been really tough, getting ready for vacation, working and this chapter is going to be so difficult for me. I haven’t started to read it and I have anxiety really bad with this, I need prayers because this chapter is going to take me down a road of extreme pain, hurt,and just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes this is what I have been truly running from and know that I am faced with it, fear has me and when the tears flow they don’t stop, I need to push through. God help me so I can overcome and be healed of this extreme pain.

  113. Ginny Cottrell says:

    Observe: What stood out for me is that God really wants to give me peace. I need to keep I. GOD’s word and not let the meanness of my spouse control/consume me. I need to rise above the meanness. Back to the bible and time with God instead of letting fear keep me away.

    BIBLE: Peace!! Following Jesus will give me the peace I so desperately need.
    Matthew 11:28-30
    Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest!!

    STRETCH: I’m struggling here. How do I forgive when the spiritual abuse is in my home and is unrelenting? I just sit there and try to ignore but sometimes it is brutal. I have to strengthen myself against the meanness without hardening my heart.

  114. Lisa Fish says:

    My observation was how truth is the first step towards a problem (specifically in this chapter against spiritual abuse)….but really- truth should be sought first in all situations. God’s word provides answers. I love 1 Corinthians 12:27….WE ALL the a part in the church….we should seek our part out, envelope out part and grow with it.

  115. Annie Myers says:

    I read chapter 3 with anticipation. My biggest hurt and disappointment came from my church family. During a very difficult time in my life, when I needed my church family more than ever, they judged me and decided the “sin” was a blemish to the church and we basically felt we were not wanted there. We left and started attending another church where we were warmly welcomed. The move was hard on me and my kids and husband. I grew up in thAt church. It hurt to be excluded and shunned. After 5 years I have begun to move on, but it took several years to forgive the leadership there. I asked for help from them and they refused to help or offer support. I feel like I am better for it now, because I don’t rely on people anymore.. Only God is constant. I still have not become fully involved in our new church because I don’t want to be close to anyone there and get hurt again. I know that is wrong, but I hope this bible study will help me completely heal my heart and and focus on doing everything God wants me to do. Thank you all for putting this study together. It feels good to have some Christian ladies to share with!

  116. Chapter 3 really ministered to me! It is right where my broken heart came from. I am so thankful God led me to this study! I am re-learning to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus….not on people. Susie’s writes that “none of us has control over other people’s choices. We just have control over our own!” This has spoken volumes to me. I am trying to keep reminding myself of it over and over! The Jesus factor…not the people factor!!!

  117. Annie I will be praying for you. I am so sorry your church family hurt you and wasn’t there for you in your time of need. I pray you can begin to let go of that hurt. It sounds like you are growing closer to God through this sad experience. You are so right that God is ALWAYS there! He never changes, never leaves us, never gives up on us! I am so thankful we have such an amazing God!

  118. Pam Handy says:

    In Chapter 3 question #4. The verse that speaks to me the most is : “Do I matter in God’s plan for the Church?” I Cor. 12:27. I know that I know that God loves me and I do matter to God. There are just days that I feel like He is a million miles away. I teach the children every Sunday and would never change that, I know that is very important to God.. but again I just feel like I should be doing more.

  119. I never felt like I mattered or fit in. I am at a church now where I am more accepted, but I still don’t know where I fit in

  120. What struck me most in Chapter 3 was “…in a Church made up of messy people, there is hope as we serve and love one another with humility, sanding upon the solid Rock that will never give way beneath our feet”. It seems like I’m constantly reminding people who are not part of a congregation that the church is full of sinners so they’re not going to be perfect.

  121. My hurt doesn’t come from the church, but I am thrown totally off balance by something my MIL’s husband said this past Sunday. He went to church and specifically asked their pastor if the church would marry gay couples. The answer made him happy, but it’s weighing on me. The answer was gay couples can attend their church, but they won’t be allowed to join or be married there or by any pastor there.
    People, all people, go to church to build a relationship with God. What if some young kid is rejected by his/her parents upon coming out and he/she seeks the church and lands in my MIL’s church only to be rejected by the people inside? It could be tragic.
    Romans 12:19, God will do the judging, is exactly what I kept telling my MIL & her husband, but they just won’t hear it. And she was appalled that I would accept any of my kids if it turns out one or more of them is gay. That just makes me want to hug them tighter than I ever have before.

  122. Diana L. says:

    On page 73 there is a message that Amy said “Hurting people hurt people.” I never looked at it that way. When I lived home I would come from school or work and just be rude, most of the time not even smiling or acknowledging my parents. I was hurt and I didn’t want to talk to anyone or say anything I just wanted to go to my room and be alone. I never thought that it would affect those surrounding me. I’m a lucky girl because my parents nor my family members ever held that against me. They still loved me and looked past my faults. It is truly a blessing to have people like that in your life that can help you get through anything.

  123. Courtney says:

    Hurting people hurt people really stuck out to me. I went through a very very dark part in my life when I had post partum depression and I hurt so many people I loved. I broke so many bridges. I can’t take it all back but I can apologize and move forward. I can let my past be a glimmer of who I was, not who I have to be. I also realize that hurting people will try to hurt me, I just need to see it for what it is:hurt.

  124. Kelly L says:

    What spoke to me most was realizing that the Church is filled with persons who are works in progress too. Observe – There have been times when I have literally turned away from Church because of things said by those I looked up to the most. I could not believe what they said. I learned to forgive them and let that burden go. That friendship is restored now. I don’t want to run away again. I want to be able to forgive sooner and free myself and them.

    Bible – The verse that speaks to me most is 1 Cor. 12:27. No matter what lies the devil tries to tell me, I will remember that I am a part of the Body of Christ. I have a purpose and I have meaning. I was created with unique talents and gifts to aid the Body in being Christ in this world. No matter what part it is, all are important and needed. I am worthwhile, loved, and needed.

    • Kelly, I actually just went through a few weeks ago a situation in my church that could have easily made me leave it and never go back. I am a Sunday School teacher assistant, and I go to a Pentecostal church where I believe God has led me too, and they are a little strict about what you wear if you are involved within the programs in the church. They told us a long time ago that we had to wear dresses if we were to work with the Sunday School classes, and I’ll be honest at that time I rolled my eyes, and got a little aggravated. Well, I obeyed and done what “they” asked us to. Well months or even a year so later, I woke up one morning not feeling too well, and honestly, didn’t feel like wearing a skirt at that time. I put on a pair of slacks and went to church… I actually had forgotten the “rule” they made. As soon as I walked in I was took to another room by two ladies in the church, and was told I knew I was supposed to wear dresses. My flesh wanted to leave and never go back to that church again, and had I not been rooted and grounded in the Word – and God’s spirit drawing me and comforting me- reminding me I was supposed to be right there. I would have left. But during that church service, I felt God’s presence in a powerful way – he just poured his love deep into my heart, and I had to ask Him to help me to forgive these two women… My flesh wanted to get bitter, and mad… but God wouldn’t allow me to stay that way. God is truly amazing, and now what the devil meant for evil in that situation it is already had good come out of it because I now can witness and share with others who have also been church hurt… and let them know I’ve been there. God’s Love is amazing! Just wanted to share that with you. I loved your post!

  125. Angella W says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Reading and doing “The Mended Heart” Bible Study is really working on my heart and I praise the Lord Jesus for this.
    Observe: I must know the Word of God and obey it. Also I must keep my eyes on Jesus not on my situations or on people and what they do. On Jesus, because, He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. Also I must
    pray for grace and mercy toward the person who have hurt me. I must choose to not hurt others and not carry around resentment toward people who bear the name of Jesus Christ, because I won’t be representing Jesus well; these actions will increase my pain and prevent my healing.
    Sometimes I feel like I am a mess, especially the past six months; but thank God I am on the road to recovery. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17(paraphrased) when I am in Christ I am a new creature and old things are passed away and all things are become new. I have realized that God doesn’t see me the old way, because I am in Jesus and He has cleansed me with His blood. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 speaks to me to love others by enduring with a forgiving heart, be kind, envy not, not to be proud, be patient, and rejoice in the truth, not
    in evil. Love covers all sins and releases blessings, so I must choose to love and forgive others for the glory of
    God.
    Stretch: I will seek God for the bes tstep to take to move toward forgiveness, because I want and is ready
    to walk in true forgiveness; to be a blessing to others and my family.
    I pray that we will not over look what the Holy Spirit is guiding us to do, so we can be the women of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. I have learned that unforgiveness holds us in bondages, but forgiveness sets us free.

    I need God wholeness and I am willing to let go and let God work in me His good, acceptable, and perfect will.
    God bless you, as we continue on our journey to wholeness.

    Angella W.

  126. I Corinthians 13:4-8. I need to memorize this verse! I’m familiar with it, but forget so many times.
    This chapter was meant for me! I grew up in a secluded home church. Dad was God to us, and it crossed lines. It has taken God to open my eyes and deliver me from the bondage I was under. But God did it! I’m still learning and growing. But I so appreciated the sentence, “When you follow Christ, there should be no walls that hold you in, isolating you from others who love Jesus.” Amen! I was taught all outsiders were wrong, we were right. I didn’t like it, but dad was in charge. God delivered me from that place. And is now using this study to heal me more. Bless you ladies!

  127. Tiffany Neely says:

    I’ve prayed to live in truth for the last 6 months and God revealed that I needed to let go of my marriage and while that wasn’t the answer I wanted, I had to surrender it to Him. Living in truth, while hard, is “freeing”. From chapter 3, “we need to learn to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. A person or doctrine is peripheral to our focus on the Savior” refocused me on what’s important. Remember the Jesus factor not the people factor. The scripture that speaks most to me is Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath, where God says It is mine to avenge. I pray to forgive and remove from my heart the feeling of making those pay for what they’ve done. One step I can take to do that is to surrender to God what was done to me and to stop replaying the events in my mind. Heavenly Father, please reshift my focus to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

  128. “We don’t have to sit, focused on all the “bugs” in our lives that led to our brokenness. We can choose instead to immerse ourselves in the living water — in Jesus and God’s Word — and allow it to cleanse us, all the while growing new, stronger roots in God.”

    WOW!!! This really resonated with me. I’m kind of a tough shell to crack, but that kind of shook me. Perfect analogy for leaving the hurt behind and moving forward with God. Thank you so much for these words!!!!

  129. Observe — The one thing that stood out to me was on pg. 67 – How Jesus was in the wilderness and how the devil desperately tried to distract Jesus from His mission. The devil tempted him with power, with food and with illusions of glory. I am learning that one of the biggest temptations that we are faced with as Christians is the temptation to lose focus on Jesus. There are so many distractions in this world that would try to get our eyes off the prize. We must keep our focus on God.
    Bible — The verse that stood out to me the most, was the question “Do I matter in God’s plan for the Church?” I am at a place in my life, where I want to do whatever God wants me to do within my Church, and I know I am to pray for others within it. But I feel like our church needs to reach more outside the 4 walls, to our community. I have a heart for community.
    Stretch — I’m going to dig deeper through God’s Word to better understand what I believe.

  130. Nichole Marcom says:

    Observe- The body of Christ, when it works scripturally, is a powerful force for change and a light that beckons us to know God, but it will never be ideal. It was not without fault in Scripture, and it is not without fault today. Even so, when we take our eyes off one another and open our heart to a sovereign God, true community can take place. We are able to give grace to imperfect people (thankfully) and grow together.
    Lord thank you for the Grace you have given me, I pray that you teach me and soften my heart to show the grace you have so graciously shown me.

    Bible- Romans 8:37-39
    But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in this world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    I was taught that God is an angry God and if we did not live by the laws we were going to burn in hell. So as a child and an adult I was convinced there was no way God could love me and forgive me for the things that I had done. The facts are in God’s word I will not fall for satan’s lies anymore. I know my God love’s me unconditionally regardless if I am condemned and unloved by my parents, God loves me and NOTHING can make God not love me. Thank You Jesus…

  131. Sunday was an awesome day ! After almost 3 years which included leaving my church of 40 years and then returning last year, I was able to forgive the shepherd in my church who hurt me. I was able to walk up to him and tell him I forgive him, expecting nothing in return. To God’s glory he apologized and asked for forgiveness!
    What a burden has been lifted …thanks to God and this study!

  132. Chelle Belle says:

    Can some one send me a copy of this book.

  133. Adrienne Ingram says:

    I was raised a Jehovah Witness for 17 years and when I was 17 yrs old. my mother was “Disfellowshipped” which really means ” kicked” out of the religon. Nobody who was a witness could talk to my mother ever again or until she proved herself to come back. I was devastated because I felt like what kind of God would do something like this? I thought he forgave you? Well from then on I decided to turn my back on God and go my own way. But I’m so grateful that he never turned his back on me:)

  134. Hi ladies. I’m still searching for my life verse but I’m struggling more with something from a future chapter. I am the one whose sinned and caused harm and although I and everyone involved are healing I still suffer with this constant nagging feeling that I am not good enough or that my shame is somehow hiding me. I have confessed to God as well as those involved and everyone all around is forgiving me for which I am so thankful but I just have this doom and gloom feeling in my gut still. Sometimes I think I confuse wordy consequences with the feeling that God is punishing me or I deserve what I get kinda thing. Don’t know if that even makes any sence. I read some of these beautiful verses and think that can’t possibly apply to someone like me.

  135. I didn’t grow up in church. My father was a verbally abusive alcoholic and he never had anything to say about people that went to church. My mother did her best to teach me about out Jesus but I never fully understood what the big deal was until I started attended church at 18. I had no support from my parents to attend so I stopped going. I later married a man of the catholic faith while I professed to be baptist. I was told by a catholic priest that my marriage wasn’t valid in the eyes of God because we didn’t share the same faith. Fast forward a few years, my husband and I visited different baptist churches until we found one that seemed to fit our family. I felt like I never belonged but my husband and children were thriving so we stayed. I was really hurt when my son was battling cancer and the youth minster and his young wife were the only members to reach out to us. I was actually “snubbed” a few times by women that I tried to befriend in a women’s group. After witnessing it himself, my husband decided we should leave the church. We attempted another church but it just didn’t feel right for our family. Since that time we have been floundering without a church and it has taken a toll on my family’s spirituality. I have felt so disheartened. My same son has since rejoined our previous church and is serving as a summer intern for the new youth pastor. My husband and I have attended twice but I’m still having feelings of insecurity. I know this is nothing as painful as many have experienced but it seems that I have struggled with going to church all my life.

  136. Valerie Dixon says:

    Observe — What stood out to me is when she said that when we take our eyes off of one another and open our heart to a sovereign God true community can take place. Grace can be given to imperfect people.

    Bible — For my yoke is easy and my burden is light Matthew 11:30 With all my burdens and weary I can go to him and rest.

    Stretch — I need to forgive the ones who hurt me. That is something I have been struggling with. Once I forgive will the hurt stop… I will have to pray to ask for guidance to forgive. The pain is still there as it happened 3 seconds ago. I can be doing something or working then the painof being hurt would surface. I need to forgive so I can move forward.

  137. Observe: what stood out to me was “we worship among imperfect people,but we worship only our perfect Savior”
    Bible: “Do I matter in God’s plan for the Church?” 1 Cor. 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.
    Stretch: Letting those ( church leadership) who hurt me off the hook because they are imperfect as the rest of us. Knowing Christ is the head and not them. I guess just a different view point is helping me cope.

  138. Tammy T says:

    Good morning. I’m playing catch up today.
    Observe: As we search the Scriptures for the truth about what it means to be God’s people, we are free to redefine the word “church” to its original meaning, which is “belonging to the Lord.” The catholic church/community that I was a part of (for the first 54 years of my life) never encouraged scripture reading/study. I have moved away from their teachings and now daily read His word and participate in the Read Thru the Word on-line study. I’m amazed (and saddened) by how much I missed because I was only listening to what the priest wanted to impart.
    Bible: I’m such a mess. Is there hope for me? resonated within me. As a Catholic, the only way I could “clean my messiness” was by going confessing to a priest. A priest could tell me if I was worthy or not of God’s forgiveness!!! Now, I confess my sins directly to God, repent, and know that if I’m truly sorry that He will wash me clean. Because of my daily study I now know that Jesus died for my sins and He alone is my Savior (I knew this before, but I’m really understanding the depths of God’s love for me)
    Stretch: As Jesus told Peter – forgive not 7 times but 70 times 7 – forgive and pray

  139. Good afternoon! I’m trying to balance my bible study and my vacation and am I the midst of playing catch up.
    Observe: What really spoke to me in Chapter 3 was how we need to view Scripture as the authority and not one particular church or doctrine. I believe that we must have a balance depending upon where we choose to congregate. I have been spending time at my boyfriends Catholic church, and then, I go back to my non-denominational church and when I walk into my church, I come out feeling welcomed and as if I’ve learned something. I like how my church takes Scripture and the teachings of Jesus and incorporates it into my life. The message said by the priests at the Catholic church is somewhat meaningful, but there is so much other stuff going on in the service, that it sometimes gets lost in translation. Therefore, I feel as though you must involve Scripture at all times regardless of where you attend, and if where you are attending doesn’t do that, then it would be important to work with Scripture in some way during your daily life.
    Bible: The statement of “I want to show Jesus’ love, but I don’t know what it even looks like” is EXACTLY what I’ve been focusing on lately. I have been reading and re-reading and focusing on the Scripture like crazy lately. It really helps shape us into a more gentle person and one who radiates God’s love.

  140. I can wear my wounds without shame. They tell a resurrection story. Christ hears me & knows me!

  141. One thing I have taken from chapter 3 is God us our leader, his word the Bible is our guide and not to be swayed away from. The verse that spoke to me is 2 Corinthians 5:17 because since I have given my life to Christ I know longer have to live in the past but live in the present through Christ and look forward to eternal life.

  142. Debbie Hablitzel says:

    My husband and I have 5 adult children. Our youngest, whom we adopted at the age of 8 yrs. old, and is now 29, has severed his relationship with us. Our other 4 adult children, and their spouses, are euphoric, and relieved, that he no longer lives in our home. He has been destructive to his life, and those around. It has been 8 weeks since he left, and is semi-homeless. I am not sad that he left. We are also relieved. But we are going through the grieving process, of his choosing, to not be a responsible father to 2 daughters. We mourn his choosing to wallow in self pity, and not be accountable for his actions. We mourn the realization, that he has no plans to be an asset to Society, or a respectful son to us. . . It is refreshing to read this book!

  143. Beth Ogden says:

    2 Corinthians 5:17 because sometimes I wonder how God can accept, love, and forgive me of my past when I can’t seem to let it go.

  144. What stood out the most for me is when the book said that church “at the core it is simply a gathering of people who need Jesus”. I think that this is an important message because it reminds us that humans are imperfect and can hurt others, but part of the church community is to learn to love and accept people for their imperfections. We are all broken and all thirsty in one way or another. It strengthens our faith when imperfect humans, even leaders from the church, harm us and we are able to still trust God and realize that he is working everything out for good and helping us grow in spiritual maturity.

  145. Observe~the statement that stood out most to me during chapter 3 is that “the church isnt’t perfect, and it’s filled with people who range from saint to sinner and everywhere in between.” —-sometimes, even people that go to church, tend to get this idea that people who go to church don’t have a sinful nature or if they witness a christian being very unchristian, they think what the heck is wrong with that person. And in reality, these people are just like every other human, born with a sinful nature and desires to follow the world or anything else that’s contrary to a christian lifestyle.

    Bible~the verse that spoke to me was 2 Corinthians 5:17 about being such a mess and if there’s hope for me. This made me realize that I need to start looking at myself like God looks at me……..with eyes of grace and He sees the righteousness that Jesus gave to me. I read a quote last week that said, “you can’t out-sin grace” what a beautiful reminder.

    Stretch~one step towards forgiving people who have hurt me is remembering they are also a flawed, and broken, human being. So extending understanding towards who they are and focusing less on my expectations from people will really help.

  146. observe: the church wasn’t without fault in scripture, and it certainly is not without fault in our world today. This makes perfect sense to me, though it didn’t stand out before.
    Bible: Romans 12:19/ God will avenge us 77 times over. But being human we still have that fleshly desire to want to take matters into our own hands.
    Stretch: I have to remind myself that NONE of us are perfect, and that at some point in that person who hurt me’s life they were hurt as well. We learn from other’s actions, and have a tendency to act on them because no one bothered to correct us or them.

  147. Observe
    The one thing that stood out to me is how easily it is to “get it wrong” in the church (especially seeing as the church is full of broken people, whether we/they admit it or not). It’s easy to hurt one another, but it’s not God’s plan and that’s not the way that God IS. It saddens Him when we hurt one another in the church. I knew this already, but for some reason it just really hit home this time through.

    Stretch
    I need to let my guard back down (at least a little bit). Ever since an individual said some really hurtful things to me after we lost our daughter, I’ve been on edge around her. I know she means well and it wasn’t intentional (it’s really hard to find the right things to say when children die…it just feels backwards) so I need to try to focus on that – she’s imperfect as well.

  148. Theresa says:

    1. Two things stood out to me: Truth is our first and greatest weapon. A church should be a safe and loving environment, at the core it is simply a gathering of people who need Jesus.
    2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love never fails.
    3. Is I cannot help how people treat me or others. I pray to God to help them deal with whatever issues they have. I turn to His’ Word for guidance and I have to remember, no matter how harsh or mean someone is, I can either try to find out why they dislike me or I can just walk away and pray for them.

  149. Blen Darrah says:

    I don’t think we as Christans have hung on to Jesus’s vision for the church. I know there is no perfect church. We as a group tend to be stand off,clickie, and focused on our needs. I have met friendlier people in the secular world than at church.

  150. Ashley Harvey says:

    It is so humbling reading these comments and actually realizing that I am not the only one who has been hurt by the church and also a friend. In a few sentences; I started going back to church with my mom, started a life journal bible-study and got involved in what my church at the time called a “life-group”. The group was for 30-ish and under folks and we gathered in a living room every Wednessday evening. I began to take on a lot (it’s the people-pleaser in me) and became very close with the female leader – it was her and her husband “leading” our group. I considered them, especially her, my best friend. I had been in this group for a little over a year and a few things became a tiny bit obvious to me; this friend/woman was also in worship leadership/ministry and it seemed like the light always had to be somewhere on her and negative on others. Gossip happened a lot and she and I would talk on the phone way to much, more than anyone else I have ever been friends with. Whenever I had the opportunity to hang out with single Christian female friends, she would say something negative or not encourage it. Drama started to follow me around. I know I wasn’t innocent of hurting others either, I recognized and felt something within me that had been a feeling of stepping back a bit however I didn’t. A little bit before I met my now husband, she began to be very controlling and manipulative and it got so much worse the minute I started stepping back. I suggested we do a bible study together somewhere (instead of talk on the phone) there was always an excuse of not having the time or just a complete unwillingness to grow. I can’t pretend I had no hand in any hurt or pain, I am sure I did. I tried talking to her at a meeting we had after she sang at a service and I was met with a deer in headlight look and her actions; manipulative and controlling behavior continued. I felt so hurt, furious, then I believed something was so wrong with me. I was out of the “cool group” and now on “my own”. When I would see her or hear her sing I would cringe, my heart would beat so fast and I would feel so stressed out and think, is something wrong with me? I mean, she sings like that and can worship like THAT! Yet, her actions don’t show any of that, It was so confusing, I felt so confused spiritually and emotionally. It really took a lot to show me how unhealthy that relationship was. I also put this person before God himself, and looked to her instead of Him. All contact on my end came to a complete hault after one of the last prideful and spiritually abusive e-mails. With the support of course of my amazing parents, and now husband. It has been almost 1 year since I was led to that decision and it has truly been so liberating, freeing and continually healing. I can only let go, forgive, pray that she forgives me for any pain I’ve caused and Let GOD.
    I have found that God cares about everything, smallest to largest and His plan for my life may not involve the “cool group” but my God is MORE than enough for me! <3

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  162. christy lb says:

    This was a very good chapter for me. I have reread it this week for reason of last week. When I was young the elders told us of the bible but did not practice. I continued in church as I was only 8 and my parents went. When I was old enough I stopped going to church. It has been 27 years and during that time I may have stepped foot in a church about 20 times, if that. In 2013 I was drawn back to the church as I was longing to grow my relationship with Christ. This past week, it was brought to my attention that not everyone is prepared to hear my story (example some are not ready to believe what God can do,) as he has done with in me. The way it was all presented to me, it took me back to the age of 8. I was truly lost that day, it was as though the 3 ladies all of a sudden had other things to do and just left me sitting there. With the help of my sisters and God I have made it through. I will not be forced out of the church. Realizing that those who go to church are those who are hurt seeking God, that is all I need to remember. That is why I attend church. I have God in my life and I am going to church to strengthen that relationship.

    Thank you Suzanne.

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