A few years after I left the pastorate, I remember having a conversation with an individual that didn’t set well with me. In a roundabout way, he was saying that, since I had cried my river, I should build a bridge and get over it. Fortunately for him, my personal ethics won over the desire to run to the store, purchase some brass knuckles, and punch him in the nose.
Instead of being a help to me, those comments only fueled my frustration. I didn’t need someone telling me to get over my hurt. I already knew that. What I needed was patience (from a friend who cared for me) and small amounts of grace (from a God who loved me).
There is no specific timeline or method to healing and restoration. There is no one book or class that leads all people down the road to recovery. We’re all different. We’ve been hurt in different ways and our specific journey toward healing will vary immensely. For my family and I, we went through a bunch of pain. We fought bouts of depression and anger. We became frustrated in our marriage. There was an underlined irritation due to the direction our lives had gone. And it took several years for us to heal, forgive, and start growing again.
It’s essential not to force a healing process, especially on those who have gone through situations with the church that have left them beat up, angry, or bitter. Encouraging someone to “build their bridge and get over it,” can be quite unhealthy for the individual and it may even create a divide in your friendship.
Instead, our focus should be on assisting individuals back into the body of Christ and helping them find their role within the structure of the local church. Let’s be the friend that comes alongside, appreciates their pain, and steadily remind them that God heals, restores, revives, and redeems. This season might take longer than we’d like but with the right amount of patience, love, and encouragement, healing can indeed come.