Transparency: The Painful Truth and How We Must Be Healed
There are many people who have a need to talk about some ugly things from their past. Not to wallow in self-pity but to receive healing from the terrible things they’ve endured and to receive affirmation from us that they are not outcasts or freaks.
“A despairing person should have kindness from his friend, said Job, “lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 NASB). Job recognized, as only a person in pain can do, that simple answers not only fail to relieve pain, they can literally drive a person further away from God. The hurting person who takes this sort of advice to heart often has two problems instead of one: the pain she originally had, plus the guilt over not being able to apply the answers she was given.”
― Henry Cloud (Changes that Heal)
When a person with a history of abuse or neglect approaches a church leader about their problems they’re sometimes asked to keep quiet about them. “Don’t focus on what the devil has done to you,” they’re told. “You are a new creature. Just focus on God.”
Such platitudes don’t bring healing or comfort to the hurting. They only reinforce what these people have already discovered—that no one wants to help them or hear about their problems. Too many leaders have no desire to discuss the abusive pasts of the people they minister to. Part of that may be because they feel ill-equipped to handle these issues. (This can be fixed through training.) The usual way of dealing with imperfections in the church is to pretend everything is okay. When someone asks how you’re doing, we put on a plastic smile and tell them we’re fine. We sweep our pain under the rug and hope no one notices it.
I wonder how many leaders would discuss their own history of abuse if they knew they would not be judged or condemned for what they disclosed. Sadly, they don’t dare bring these things out in the open, for fear of losing their position in the church or the esteem we’ve given them. I can tell you from personal experience life on a pedestal is a miserable existence.
Two years ago, I decided to publicly disclose some of the more ugly parts of my past. Later, I began discussing the emotional trauma I experienced as a child and how I was healed of it. I could not have done any of this had it not been for the loving, non-judgmental way in which my friends let me be me. Just as I am. Totally transparent.
I believe God wants to bring a much deeper level of healing to the bride that He loves. The healing that we need will require us to learn how to be transparent about the things we’ve kept hidden. We do no one a favor by hiding our past from our brothers and sisters.
The first step in the healing process is becoming a community of safe people. We must learn to listen with empathy when people share things about their past that cause us discomfort. We must learn to accept each other’s brokenness and shortcomings without judgment. And we must learn to hold the secrets others share in strict confidence. The second step is learning about the healing process. We must invite Jesus into the mess that’s been made of our soul and ask Him to heal us. The last step is helping others to receive their own healing, just as we’ve received ours.
If you’re interested in learning more about emotional healing you might check out my book Emotional Healing in 3 Easy Steps.
Wayne and I are honored to minister to ministry leaders and pastors who have no where to go with their hurts. We are a safe place for them. Thank you for bringing up this issue. I agree we all have to feel safe to expose things in our lives without being rejected, abandoned, or judged!
I love what God is doing through you and Wayne. Keep up the awesome work!
Well said! Your honesty is one thing the Lord is using to minister to many including me.
When God told me to start a home group 2 yrs ago, I was thinking it was going to be a safe place for women to share their deepest hurts and get prayer and healing for them as I had been able to have yrs ago,…What I did not realize was it was going to be mostly teenagers (now we have 25 + 7 adults that come every week…most of these teens have never been in church let alone seeing the kingdom alive and well before them…and the adults are all long time Christians who believe in hands on ministry…one of the first thing I told everyone was that what they heard in this room, stayed here..what anyone shared was not for outside the room…and that our stories of our past lead to inner healing of the adults along with the teens….all of these teens have exceptionally bad home lives…we have had so much success with inner healings. The kids favorite thing is to go out & pray for the homeless…& out here on the coast, we have lots…even when they are not with us they stop & pray for someone..Watching 1 teen sharing what he was dealing with, the kids all surrounded him and started praying (without us saying anything) and God spoke to me and said “See? This is because of you!” “No Lord”, I replied. “This is You” He then told me “NO it is because of your obedience to me that this is happening!” And I do have your Emotional Healing book PM Have not read it yet, but am looking forward to learning new things!
Great testimony, Teri. I love what God is doing through you!
Wow, the more I read articles like this the more the fury is growing inside me. It seems the doctors, friends, family and the elders of the church are willing to send 30 minutes giving you useless advice but never listen to your problems and what you believe you need. They are too afraid and prideful to admit they don’t have the answers. What a tragedy. The search continues for me as well.. answers, healing, deliverance..