When your church becomes family

February 21st 1988. That is when the 4 year Utopia I was living in at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, fell apart. I was working at Jimmy Swaggart Ministry. I went to church there, youth group, hung out ALL the time at the bible college. All my friends were there and we had it made. It was a very safe, isolated existence. We knew we had it made and we felt sorry for everyone else in the world who didn't have what we did. I loved my church family. As a new Christian who was without family, I felt I had a family there. I was completely opened to them, believed in them ALL and trusted them with my life. I had complete faith in THEM and when it fell apart it broke my heart and shattered my faith.

I know now that the busting of the dam was a good thing but it was also a very painful thing. I didn't embrace that pain. I built walls. Walls that until recently have stayed intact.

I have been at Healing Place for 8 years. I have been involved for about 4 years. But I was still able to keep the people out of my heart. Yes, I made a point to be an open book, I have no problem with everyone and their grandma knowing my business, judging me, giving me their advise, whatever, but being completely open does not equal letting people into your heart.

Until the whole resent Elevate experience, I had not realized how much that time shaped how I looked at church. Sure, I knew that it had lead to my search for what I really believed and why and that it had also lead to a really dark crazy time in my life, but I had never really felt the effects of that experience on my view of what we Christians call our "church Family" but now when I look back I see that I was content to serve at a distance, I never wanted to know too much or get to deep into the happenings at HPC. After my Swaggart experience I never wanted to care that much ever again about where I went to church. I never wanted them to be able to get close enough to hurt me.


Over the last year I started to see that my walls were in danger. They now were exposed and starting to weaken. Elevate really cut a huge chunk out of the wall. It isn't "Elevate" in itself but the extreme involvement that comes with Elevate that really was the final blow. I had to open my heart to these people I was working along side, I had to humble myself, be an Armour bearer for our leaders and none of that can happen behind walls. I felt God showing me the walls that had to come down.

When you are part of a church that is so involved in loving everyone in society, a church that ask God for the nations, the poor, the homeless, the hurting, the broken, when you see how fast and deep and real the love of Jesus is, through these people actually BEING Jesus to people, when you actually get to be a part of all that love, it is impossible to keep that wall up. The love broke through the walls.

HPC is not perfect, please, we all know there is no perfect church, but I love them, they are my family and that is what God wanted to achieve in me. He wants me to love my church family, open my heart to them completely, the good, the bad the ugly. When you love someone you do believe in them, hope for them,(1 Cor. 13:4-8) pray for them, daily and pray out of love. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus but that doesn't mean I have to wall up my heart. I know that makes me vulnerable and that's ok.

HPC is not the greatest church on the planet, I think your church is just as great if that is where God has you but I love HPC, they have become family to me and that is a good thing.

Comments

HerstoryGirl said…
Wow.
Carole, THAT was an awesome post!
And I have to say, I agree with you 100% about Healing Place... So MANY of us come from backgrounds of "bad experiences" with churches and other Christians. While I completely acknowledge that even HPC is not "perfect," I DO believe they are what they set out to be:
A Healing Place for a Hurting World.
I have experienced much *healing* there, myself.
Thank you for this post,
Summer =)
Anonymous said…
Carole,
That was beautiful. You are very right. And when I step back far enough to look past what went wrong at Family Worship Center and think about my church family there.... my family connection is just as real and true 20 years later. So many of us have moved away and made new friends elsewhere... but to me that group is still my family. God is true and faithful and love never fails...
Your BEST friend,
Ammye