A friend of mine wrote an excellent blog post about the need for a safe haven in every part of the church. When I read what she wrote, some thoughts came to mind that I'd like to share here.
We all know people who are struggling and hurting. They may have been victimized by someone else as in the case of spiritual abuse or their struggles may have been caused by their own poor decisions. Whatever the cause, they may need a safe place where they can heal.
The track record of the institution has not always been good. One of my friends has told me how she shared her struggles in a home group and, as she put it, they looked at her as if lobsters were crawling out of her ears. After experiences like that, we learn pretty quick that it's best not to share too openly so instead, we share the safe "sins" like, "I don't read my Bible enough" or we might even get bold and share that we got angry when we had to wait too long at a traffic light.
The issues that are hurting us and causing us to lose sleep are never brought up for discussion. Instead, they are continually pushed down where given the right set of circumstances, they can erupt spewing hurt and leaving devastation all around us. I believe that institutions are really not the best place for individuals to experience healing. I believe healing is best accomplished in a relationship where the hurting person is befriended and can experience the comfort of travelling with someone who will support and encourage them in their journey to wholeness.
The hurting need a shelter where they can feel loved and sheltered while being healed. I know there are many of us who want to be a safe place for the hurting so it's important that we understand what are the characteristics of a safe haven.
I believe a listening heart is one of the most important characteristics. While it's good to provide a listening ear, I think it's critical that we develop listening hearts. When we listen with our hearts, we hear the words that are not even spoken; we hear the cry that is not even uttered. Some who are hurting will try to hide their hurt and emotions from the world. When we listen with our hearts, however, we look beyond the smile and see the hurting heart.
Others may act out of anger or bitterness. During the time of my healing, I expressed uncharacteristic anger. I'm normally not an angry person but that emotion came out strong. Emotions that had been repressed began to come out and, when they did, they came out in a flood.
In the natural, before a wound can heal, the infection has to come out. The discharge may be unpleasant to see and unpleasant to deal with but, unless it comes out, the wound will not properly heal. Wounds of the heart are similar to physical wounds. Anger and bitterness may be discharged and we have to allow the wounded to freely express their hurt. It may be unpleasant but this is a vital step in their healing.
Healing is a process and it's never a short, quick process. In the case of a physical wound, it may look terrible and yet the healing process has already begun below the skin surface where it can't be seen. The same is true with a wounded heart. Things may look messy and nasty for a while but that's part of the healing process and shouldn't be rushed. The ugliness that we're seeing is not the real person. It's the infection that has built up around the wounded heart. During this time, the heart must be gently massaged with the love of God since this is the only medicine that will heal it.
I believe as we become more firmly established in Father's love that he will bring more of his hurting children to us. That's why I started blogging and that's why I added an email address to my profile. I want to be available to encourage and, if necessary, walk with someone as they journey toward wholeness.
My desire is to share the life and freedom that Father has given me so that others can be set free. I'm excited to see all of the other blogs and websites that are proclaiming this message of freedom in Christ. My hope is that they would multiply. The hurting and wounded need to hear that Father's love is not based on what they do but it's based solely on what he has already done.