There is a problem in the Church that needs to be addressed. It's a problem with the way the Church handles pain and the people who are going through it.
This post can apply to any type of suffering or pain, but because I am going through infertility, that is the example I'm going to use.
Like I've said before, I usually don't like to get into my faith much on this blog, but I really think this is something that needs to be addressed.
We are supposed to bring all of our burdens to Christ (Psalms 55:22). Shouldn't we be able to bring them to the Body of Christ, the Church, as well? We should, but unfortunately, many church members just don't want to deal with someone who is going through hardship. Churches are handling infertility the same way that the world does. They want to sweep it under the rug, not talk about it, and ignore it. As Christians, aren't we called to be different?
After my husband and I had been diagnosed with infertility and were going through all the various tests that come along with that diagnosis we turned to our fellow believers for support. I was quite vocal about my feelings about what we were going through. I thought it was a safe place to do so. It wasn't.
I encountered an attitude of, "Just pray about it and then get yourself together." I was told that voicing my unhappiness with my situation was sinful and that I was bitter. Many people told me that my infertility (a medical condition) was all part of God's plan. I've never had anyone tell me that me being diagnosed with Crohn's disease was part of God's plan, so why do people think it's okay to say that about infertility?
I felt very much shut out and unwanted because I wasn't pretending that my life was just great. When did the idea that you have to be happy all the time to be a Christian come along? Read the book of Job, Lamentations, or the Psalms. Those guys were struggling and they were VERY open with their feelings.
The sense of, "you don't belong here, just go away," that I got from my brothers and sisters in Christ during that time period has made me very hesitant to go to church. I feel the need to protect and insulate myself. Infertility has already made me feel like an outsider. I didn't need that to be reinforced by other believers.
I know that I am not alone in these feelings. I've heard them echoed by SO many women who are Christian and are infertile. They are told that they need to be patient, trust God, and just pray. The end. Not many people want to hear about what they are really feeling or how hard what they are going through is.
It's true, I have changed. Pain has changed me. If you can believe this, I used to be one of those bubbly people who was an eternal optimist and loved being around people almost all the time. That has obviously changed. The parts of myself that were so hopeful had to be deadened to protect myself. Imagine what hope followed by horrible disappointment every month would do to the mind of an optimist. I also don't like being around large groups of people anymore. It's hard for me because I'm just not myself anymore. I hope that I get those parts of myself back someday, but they just aren't here right now.
There is a quote I pinned on Pinterest. It says, "Love me until I'm me again." That is what I need from those around me. That is how the Church needs to approach people who are suffering. Understand that when someone has been going through something awful long enough it changes them. Love them until they are themselves again.
Jesus called the suffering to come to Him. Shouldn't we, the Church, be doing the same? There is an astounding lack of compassion in a faith whose greatest commandment is Love. Let's bring some of that back.