Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Recently I heard a sermon on this passage from 2 Corinthians:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
I like that command/promise value pack. God comforts us. He has, he does, he will. He expects us to care about other people who are hurting because we know how they feel and have experienced God's care for us. My understanding of the words "compassion" and "sympathy" is that they involve shared experience. I have compassion for someone who feels lonely, hopeless, or rejected because I have felt those things, too.

I assumed mature Christians would behave this way toward others.

When the conflict with sr pastor outgrew his relationship with Husband and began to involve our parenting decisions, I decided I should talk directly with sr pastor. I was hurt deeply. I felt like he had judged us and felt insecure about being at church.

I carefully, thoughtfully worked out what I wanted to say to him and how to say it in an relationship-building way. I decided to approach him as my pastor, asking for his help finding my place at the church. My imagined worst-case-scenario was that I'd cry and lose control of myself. I tried to remember that authentic tears generate sympathy and connection and that would certainly be good.

Things started out well. I described my frustrations and asked for his help. He offered brief, practiced answers that I suspect he has given often to similar requests. Then I thought aloud, "The last year has not gone the way I'd expected..." and started to cry. It was a profound understatement of how difficult things had been for my family.

This is the moment when I'd have expected 1 Corinthians to kick in. As a pastor -- in theory, my pastor -- I thought he would comfort me with the comfort he had received through Christ.

He didn't.

Instead he picked up the thought and turned it to himself. "Things haven't gone the way I'd expected either! When your husband came I thought..." and he began listing his frustrations with my husband.

I was speechless. What a crazy mess. This pattern repeated over and over in interactions we had with sr pastor. It is so painful, feels so unkind. It also makes me hurt for him because he seems unable to see beyond himself.

This post was inspired by a recent item from the Church Whisperer. "We are surrounded by pain and sorrow and dysfunction and incapacitation. Without something to offer in opposition to that pain, without a heart that breaks for hurting people, our mission fails."


  1. Wow! I feel very connected to you regarding your conversation with Sr. Pastor (and many other situations). I've been there, unfortunately more than once or twice. I've had the rug ripped right from under me and I was the church worker (with no spouse for support - I was alone and still alone). One does not expect to get that kind of response from their pastor. I also talked with my Dist. Pres. and got even less respect and no empathy at all. He was more interested in who was passing by his door than what I was saying!!!

    Thankfully, I now have a pastor who is compassionate and can empathize. Unfortunatly, he has had incredible sorrowful situations in his personal life while our shepherd and is a true man of faith and a wonderful pastor. I pray you find that also. It's hard when someone we're taught to look up to and respect, hurts us so.

    Trust is difficult at times for me, not just with persons of authority, but with most people/situations. I too, am still healing. Unfortunately, meds are not working too well. I have lost "faith" in talk therapy and thus feel like I'm bobbing in the high, stormy waves. Land at times seems so far away, but some days I feel like I'm on a sandbar, but still far off from land. The sandbar gives me just enough energy to keep bobbing; but some days I wish I could just give in to the water and drown. Depression SUCKS!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write. May God add sand to your sandbar.



Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.