I have felt unsafe with my feelings at church.
And as I sat around a table with four other fresh, beautiful faces, we all agreed that we have all felt the same. On guard. Unable to share. Afraid of judgment.
Or worse, the actual feeling of being judged.
Community group comes around and it is time for prayer requests and all you hear is crickets, when in all reality your marriage is teetering on its edge and you and your husband haven’t spoken in weeks (besides making appearances in public).
She asks you to lunch and you know that you need to share with her the news your daughter just shared with you, but every time you see her, her kids look so … perfect.
Your son just came out and you fear what the church will do when they see him. What they will say about your parenting? What will they say about you as a mom?
Or that shame you carry from the binge the night before. It’s made you so tired, but could you actually hand that to your brother and sister in the Lord? Would they handle it carefully or would it become grounds for the next morning’s gossip session?
Rewind back to my table full of women who have felt unsafe. These women look to be a table full of vibrant, life-giving, grace-speaking women. Surely they don’t struggle with feeling unsafe, but we forget that humans are humans with the same innate struggles no matter how put together we look. We are all extraordinary mask-makers. It’s one of the talents we receive when we move onto this earth. Earthed mask-makers. It must come with the oxygen we breath.
But us Jesus women, we need to be brave enough to breath the oxygen without the mask.
We, women, need to be the safe place that other women can put their emotions.
Because Jesus is that for us.
Personally, as a pastor’s wife, I’ve been told countless times not to share my inner doubts and the tinkerings of my soul. I have been told to never share my lonely struggles for fear of ruining the ministry. All I can think of when I see this depiction is a lonely hunchback at the top of a tower staring down at the people. What a sad life. (SERIOUSLY, SAD.)
And never do I see this life in scripture once the church was formed. Not once.
So how do we do this? How do we even begin to make Church safe again? We get into scripture and let it assist us in creating safe places for humans and hearts, for the lost and found.
Living Stones Focused on the Living Stone
We are to be “living stones, a spiritual house being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” (1 Peter 2:5) Stone by stone we are laid next to one another. Touching each other on all sides, being built up with one purpose — to make disciples.
In order to be built up we have to be pushed, nudged, pressed up against one another. We must work alongside each other and begin to know the way one another functions (which is why Church is not just for Sunday mornings).
There can’t be any gaps in our wall because that is when the elements get in (you know, wind, water, dirt and – gross – mice). And spiritually speaking, any gap is where the serpent finds a place to camp and fester his poison.
Knowing where our weaker points are, as well as our stronger ones, only allow us to build better sacrifices to our God. And we can be unafraid of sharing them with our local body of believers because our focus should be our cornerstone. And this cornerstone makes us unafraid and able to share our weaknesses.
Keeping our focus on our mission allows freedom in sharing our weaknesses.
Brothers and Sisters
My blood family is not perfect by any means, but I am most certainly blessed to have an entire family that believes whole-heartedly in Jesus. And my family is the family that knows every blessed thing about every blessed circumstance in our very blessed lives.
We like to talk to each other. A lot.
I will never forget that as a little girl, when something was happening in our family, my dad would call a family meeting. We would all sit on the couch and stare up at him as he would make
My family functions because we love one another as a family was created to love. My dad created a safe environment for us to share and we understood that family was special and unique. As brothers and sisters, we learned to share appropriately, hold our tongues when necessary, shed tears among each other, and admit when we were feeling unloved.
This is family. This is exactly what the family of God should look like as well. Not a “click” of best friends or people who all dress the same. Not a certain age group or generation. Not a bunch of perfect people who meet together once a week. But a people with a conviction for clear communication in order to love one another better and deeper.
Leaders, take note of creating safe environments.
Be The First
Maybe you are waiting for someone to share something about their life that seems broken so you can feel validated to share yours. But this line of thinking only shows a skewed way of thinking about the church and brokenness (that many of us hold to).
Psalm 51:17 tells us that the sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
So what if you viewed your offering to your church community a sacrifice before the Lord? What if you let that be the reasoning behind sharing your feelings? When you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the mask becomes a burnt offering before Him.
Is there room to be hurt in all of this? Absolutely. Is there opportunity to become the next piece of gossip? Of course. We are dealing in a broken world so the worst outcome is always a reality.
But there is also opportunity to function wholly and completely as the church was meant to function, as a “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possessions so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called us into His marvelous light.”
Darkness comes from feeling unsafe but light — brilliant light — comes when humans feel safe again.
I would love to hear from you. What have you done to feel safe inside the Church? Let’s continue the conversation!