The Hurt and the Healing: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Bonnie King
It is an honor to welcome Bonnie King for today’s Wild in the Hollow guest post series. After my post on Monday about assumptions I had made of women in the church, Bonnie shares with us today how the church proved her assumptions wrong as well. This one is real and raw, and I am so grateful. Please welcome Bonnie!
I’ve experienced the most healing and the most hurt in my life from church. I tell you this while I sit in the messy middle of it all.
When my husband died in a car accident while I was pregnant with our second child, it was the church who came to my rescue. At the time I didn’t realize it was Jesus in them helping me. I was sure I had pushed Him away to protect myself, since He obviously didn’t care or the omnipotent God wouldn’t have let this tremendous hurt happen.
Or so I thought.
Jesus’ church took care of me, staying up all night holding my newborn son, feeding us soul food for close to a year, nursing me back to a place where the idea of praying didn’t bring me in anguish to my closet floor.
Until I came to such extreme grief, I was comfortable. I thought church was the place you go on Sundays to be “good” and get credit on God’s checklist of acceptance. I lived complacent, ineffectual, and relatively happy.
But once I had to rely on His people to get me out of bed and feed my children, it got personal.
When I began walking my road of despair, I didn’t know how much I needed people, the flesh of Jesus in my life. I was brought to a place of brokenness and extreme solitude as I wandered in my mind down paths I never knew needed exploring. What purpose do I serve alive? Why would an all-loving creator allow us to suffer? Was there a way to escape God and His agenda? It was all too much for me.
Out of my place of need, I turned to the Psalms, what I had internalized from “checking the box” all those Sundays. Reading Psalms, I found words of desperation mirroring my own: extreme depression and a crying out to the only One who can provide the balm for a sick soul.
The promise of beauty in brokenness was a paradox I had never needed to explore, and yet it was there, splattered in painful stories across the thin pages I had read for years but had never needed to be my own.
Mercifully as I experienced some recovery and lifted my head to see where I was and who was left standing with me, I saw what He had done for my fatherless family.
Restoration was becoming real. As the shock to my system dulled enough to function I dove into why people came to my aid. What drove my friend’s husband to physically carry me out of my husband’s visitation when I collapsed from exhaustion? Why did a woman approach me offering her time and energy to help me parent my children with no strings attached?
This was Jesus’ church becoming flesh for me. It was compassion that compelled.
When I was in a pit of hopeless darkness, I did not care to ask what the name was on the building where my helpers went to learn, pray and be with others who loved God. I knew these people loved Jesus by the fruit of their actions and words in my period of pain. I didn’t measure their love by how many times they met with other believers or the position of their bodies as they worshipped God our Father.
When there is pain, it is time to act like Jesus and go to the hurting people. My pain has produced the same compassion that was shown to me: to love people as God does, without condemnation or stipulations.
It was time for me to let go of preconceived notions of “church” and let people be free in Christ. If He came to set us free. Why would I place shackles on the feet of my brothers and sisters?
There is an urgency in my soul to serve others as I have been served. The joy of the Lord is my strength, and there is not anything else like it in the world. It’s a motivator, and I desire for every person I come in contact with to own it as well.
I belong to Jesus’ Church. Membership is to believe Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice so we can live an abundant life on earth, helping set others free to spend eternity with God when our flesh goes back to dust.
I happen to meet with other believers a few times a week to be encouraged in this compelling work; they are imperfect humans struggling as I am to work out what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ in a broken world. It’s messy or magical, depending on the topic or season, but at the end of the day, it’s a family on the road to Home.
I’ve decided to take the hurt along with the healing since it happens to be how God increases the number around His communion table.
Now, please remind me I said this, when pain finds me again, dear church.
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:1-4 MSG
Bonnie King writes along with some fellow Truth-tellers at Finishing The Race, a place born out of a restlessness to share each other’s stories of how Jesus has redeemed brokenness. She desires to encourage and set others free from feeling alone in their pain as we all stumble, cry and laugh together on our journey Home. She’s never met a stranger, adores her husband and three children, and is likely reading three or more books at one time.