Last month I went to a retreat, and the facilitator said something that has been churning in my spirit ever since. Karrie Garcia is a pastor’s kid, author, and founder of Freedom Movement and Freedom Academy. She has spent her life loving and serving in the local church. She has also experienced the heartache of a broken home and a broken church. Karrie’s mother suffered from depression and took her own life when Karrie was a teen, leaving her with deep doubts about how the church cares for its congregants and pastors. Karrie said:

“What is broken in the family of origin or in the local church, 
will be healed in the family of God.”

Over the past month, I have turned this truth over in my mind hundreds of times, and as it is now my turn to express gratitude in the Commonway blog, I can’t help but come back to it again. I cannot find a single circumstance of pain, hurt, or brokenness that cannot find healing in the family of God. Wow. What comfort that brings! And what responsibility that holds!

What was broken for you in your family of origin?

  • Is there a broken relationship with a parent, sibling, or relative?
  • Did you experience neglect, addiction, or abuse?
  • Have you grieved the untimely death of a loved one?
  • Were there harsh words spoken or unmeetable expectations?
  • Was forgiveness negotiated and grace withheld?

What has been broken in your ‘church’ experience?

  • Has your confidence been broken by someone you trusted?
  • Did a leader fail to protect you or someone you love?
  • Has a mentor let you down?
  • Did ‘the church’ use scripture to shame you rather than heal you?
  • Has a divided religious world disillusioned you?

These, all of these, are healed in the family of God.

Is that hard to imagine? It’s ok. I get it. But, please remember that the family of God is far bigger than our local congregation or experience up to this point. God’s sons and daughters (our brothers and sisters) span the entire globe! No doubt, there are times when God’s children let each other down. We are humans! But, one person does not equal God’s whole family.

An example from my life.

           My husband and I were once in a small group with other couples who were very good friends. We had kids of similar ages, ate lots of meals together, helped each other whenever we could, and worshiped together. I felt we were living out community exactly how God designed! Until it changed. There were harsh words spoken. There was blame. And shame. And a surprising lack of grace and forgiveness. It was painful. And I sometimes wonder if my involvement in that group did me more harm than good. To be honest, it’s been hard to be in a small group since. Why? Because it’s risky and vulnerable, and maybe I am having trouble believing that what was hurt in the family of God can also be healed in the family of God. Lately, God has been pressing on my heart that it’s time to let that healing begin. And I am ready. 

To those who are holding back from the family of God, I invite you to reconsider. God designed a need within us that He would not fill. Genesis 2:18 says, “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Scripture is packed with instructions on how to “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  Maybe, just maybe, we need to give a small group another chance? Or give up our cynicism? Or open up our real selves to our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Could you trust that part of God’s healing for you is held within His family?

To those who belong to the family of God, I invite you to remember Jesus’ great commandment, Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We do this through empathy, vulnerability, and humility. Every person we encounter has a story that needs a safe place to heal, including you. Jesus is the healer. We are the loving place that makes room.      

Could we be people who embrace the broken with only love?

“What is broken in the family of origin or in the local church, 
will be healed in the family of God.”

Thanks be to God.

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