Sometimes I have to process things really slowly, especially when those things involve people I was close to. For instance, I have been working through processing a couple of events that took place in the last couple of months that seemed rather unnecessary and petty, but came from the least likely sources.
For example, I recently got raked over the coals publicly by a pastor friend that felt I had gotten too soft on social media because I dared to post more things that were not political in nature or culturally engaging than I might have normally done in the past. Things that were more light hearted, less controversial, and dare I say…personal in nature.
I was accused of taking a “social justice warrior” stance, promoting “false teachers” (e.g. Francis Chan), and leading members of his congregation astray and causing others in his church to feel discouragement toward me. I was accused of violating some sacred trust I was given to speak into the lives of his church members that, apparently, he alone granted me…on social media. I was also accused of drifting toward heretical belief systems.
He even went so far as to tag my pastor at the time in his comments to offer up public correction and rebuke of me because I was “his disciple”, or to correct him if he felt he was in the wrong. Unfortunately, no such public response came to my defense…by anyone really.
I eventually deleted the comments and removed the pastor friend from my life as it was clear that the relationship was not a healthy one.
And what was the post that spurned such a response? I had been so bold as to make the suggestion that God was more concerned with our inner appearance (our hearts) than He was about our exterior appearance (what we wear).
I was taken aback by it, if I am honest.
None of those things spoken of me and over me were true. They hurt because the accusations came from someone I had assumed knew me and supported me.
Thankfully, I know my heart…and I know the God I serve…and I didn’t allow those things to define me. I let them roll off. Didn’t mean the hurt didn’t still remain…but I knew the words to be untrue. It also helped to have a wife who looked at me and reaffirmed the fact that those things were not true and not to believe them.
I experienced another similar event even more recently by another person I trusted…except in that case an entire article was written about me claiming and declaring things about me that were entirely untrue. It segued into more general points, but it was pretty clear that even the general stuff, having been preempted by the more direct, was about me.
This article was supposedly written in response to an article I had written. In my article I took great care not to single anyone out, and keep it as a general high-level observation of things I had witnessed in my own time in ministry…not of any one person.
Even as I write this article, while I’m giving specific examples, I’m trying to do my best not to uncover specific people and expose them personally. It is quite difficult to address such things that were stated about you publicly without revealing a little. But, hopefully the majority will not go on the hunt to find out who these individuals were because that is not my intent.
Back to the example…
The article written about me was not done that way at all. It was clearly written about me. The only thing left out was my name, but anyone who had read my article, or knew this relationship, could easily connect the two. It was written in a somewhat mocking manner, sarcastically, and even belittled me and the content I had written. I had a few folks reach out privately and ask about it and then express great disappointment in what they had seen after I provided more context to the situation.
That one probably hurt even more than the other one. But again, I had to remind myself that those things spoken about me were not true.
My point in all of this is simply this…mean and horrible things will be said about you (and even to you) by people you love and trust. It may be that you have evolved in your understanding and application of things (and I’m not talking about moving in to heresy) which will rub people you were close to the wrong way. Those things may strike chords in them that you never expect would result in the things they say to or about you. It may be, like in the case of my second example, that you write something as a general observation that gets taken as a personal attack, and receives an unnecessary public admonishment. It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN.
The real unfortunate thing is, those people have allowed themselves to be used by the enemy to hurt and maim you. They may not realize it. They may think they are doing “God’s work”, but in reality they are throwing spears and arrows on behalf of the enemy.
There are a few ways to combat this though. I call this the 3 R’s of Moving On:
- Remove those people from your life. They have become toxic relationships that are doing more harm than good. You don’t need to subject yourself to their spears and arrows. As hard as it may be…just walk away.
- Remind yourself of who you are in the eyes of God by looking to His Word and reading what He has to say about you. For example, HERE’s an article listing 19 verses displaying what God thinks about you. And that’s just a starting place. There’s so much more to be found!
- Replace those relationships with ones that are truly on your side and meaningful. Find someone or someones that truly love you unconditionally and who will speak truth to you (when you need it) in love. They aren’t going to publicly embarrass you when they suddenly don’t agree with you. I’m not talking about finding “yes” people, just people who truly understand relationship and will walk it out with you in the good and the bad.
A quick caveat: I am not assuming guilt or innocence concerning myself or others when these things occur. These individuals may very well be pointing out things you need to consider. So, certainly consider what is being said carefully before tossing it all out with the bathwater. But, at the same time, you don’t have to receive things that are being said maliciously, callously, or carelessly. If they truly valued you and their relationship with you, they wouldn’t make a public spectacle of things.
IT’S NOT EASY BUT IT MAY BE NECESSARY
I realize that these steps may be easier said than done. It isn’t easy to look at long time relationships and make the decision to walk away from it when it appears to be moving toward a toxic and unhealthy place. But sometimes it is absolutely necessary in order for you to heal, to grow, and to move forward.
I would encourage you, that if you are reading this and can relate to what I’m saying, to seek out the wise counsel of a pastor, friend, or family member that you can trust will speak truth in love to you. That will help you discern what God may be saying in these matters. And that will take seriously the pain you are experiencing.