I have looked at church as a place where overly religious people came together in their perfectly pressed clothes and their painted on smiles to make their weekly appearance. I used to think people with a checkered past were not the church going type. I had a distorted view of what it meant to be the church, thanks mainstream worldly views for making me think this way- this view could not be more wrong.

The church is not a building. The church is made up of believers who love and want to live for Jesus and want to disciple to others to live for Jesus. Those that make up the church share their testimony to reach others for Jesus. Their mission statement is to live their lives for Jesus in accordance to the Bible and go live it out. The church is not made up of people who have all the answers. The church is a safe place for sinners to come meet Jesus.

On any given Sunday, there is not a church building or gathering place where those that congregate have it all together nor do they have all the answers. I do not believe that as believers we will ever have all the answers, but it is our quest to keep searching and growing. We are called to be the church because we do not have it all together but the testimonies within the walls could change lives. We are called to share our hearts with others. Salvation begins with simply engaging another in conversation. Be real. Be honest. Do not miss an opportunity for an encounter.

So, every Sunday we are called to bring our brokenness, our hurts, anger, struggles, temptations and sin and lay them at the feet of the Cross. We are called to not let pride, fear or humility stand in the way of freedom that can be experienced from releasing yourself and living wholeheartedly for Jesus.

Some are really great at masquerading their hurts. Some are always fine, but not really. Fine is that word that you throw out there and hope it sticks. Well, that has been my method anyway.

If you are broken, fighting past hurts and struggles and are struggling with hope, then I cannot think of any better place then being surrounded by men, women and children who have hearts like Jesus for the hurting, broken and hopeless. Those with hearts like Jesus are the church. They are Earthly disciples that are ministering to those in need. These men and women will welcome the opportunity to stand in the gap, hit their knees and fervently and without hesitation pray for others.

But here’s the deal…I am telling you to bring your past and current hurts and burdens and lay them at the feet of Jesus…but I am not practicing this as I should be. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a “I will handle this on my own type of gal.” My vice is accepting any help.

In the last couple of months, I have identified with the woman at the well. I have purposefully isolated myself. I have struggled with a past hurt that I have not shared with a single other person until recently for over twenty-five years. Don’t do the math, I will save you that step, I am 41. I have a past. I am not defined by that past, but I have unresolved hurts that have stunted my ability to heal, forgive and move past that hurt. I am haunted by hurts that occurred when I was sixteen. It has defined the way I parent-helicopter parenting method- deeply disliked by my children. At sixteen, I drew a line
and vowed never to cross that line. As far as I was concerned, I would take that hurt to the grave with me. I mean I did the whole thing where you write your deep dark hurts on paper and burn it and I thought that was good. I did feel a sense of release when it burnt but it would come back to haunt me again and again. I never laid the worst of the worst at the feet of Jesus. I recently shared this hurt with my husband after nineteen years of marriage. As a result of this past hurt, I struggle with forgiveness.

I am a black and white type of a person. I believe right is right and wrong is wrong. I previously thought there were some wrongs that could be deemed unforgivable. I am learning that I do not have the authority to deem something as unforgivable. I can choose forgiveness or not but not to deem something as unforgivable. You see this wrong was not a simple mistake or lack of judgement. So how do you forgive something that was intentional and life altering? I chose to dig my heels in and deem this unforgivable and it has profoundly affected me and the life I want to pursue. I repeatedly told God no. No, I will not forgive. No, I will not trust. No, I will not remove the line that was drawn. I will not forgive this; I will just exist with it buried so deep. But that has created a woman who gets angry at the drop of a hat with a hair trigger fuse that
could easily blow at any moment. I struggled to understand how my unforgiveness could be causing so many issues. There had to be something else because I was not willing to head down this road. I did not want to relive this nightmare nor face these demons. Here’s your wakeup call Tara! I have been stuck in a rut because of a heart condition that would not allow me to drop the walls and allow healing to take place. I struggled with what the “healing” would trigger. I am not someone who wants to be in my feelings. I mean I am not a robot; I cry when others are struggling, sappy movies like Marley and Me and when others are experiencing great joy, but I hate dealing with my emotions and I have to process items that could trigger an emotional response. I am guilty of trying to be funny or avoiding it all together. Healing from this would take time, energy,
effort and allowing others in. Not my thing.

When I shared this hurt with my husband, I had a nightmare that evening. It felt like the flood gates were opened and it all came back in snapshots with a forceful blow to the gut. Unfortunately, my husband has had to endure the aftermath that comes from the emergence of repressed hurts. I know that sharing this with him has been extremely hard on him as well. He is my safe place and I know he wants nothing more than a healed and whole wife who can find a path forward and move towards forgiveness. In all honestly, I do not know how to forgive. I am still that sixteen-year-old girl, drawing her
line and not knowing how to move forward, stuck in a rut. I know that the Bible speaks to forgiveness and is very clear that we must forgive. In fact, Jesus demands us to forgive others so we may be forgiven. How? Where do I start?

I started by writing a letter. A letter that I will never send but a letter that hopefully helps me release a demon that has plagued my heart for far too many years. A letter that will hopefully put an end to a chapter of my life that was suppressed for many years. A chapter that nearly broke me. A chapter that caused me to be like the woman at the well and feel like I was not enough. I am hopeful that it is a chapter that will end a great deal of hurt that has shaped the woman I have been, into the woman I know Jesus is molding me to be. I am hopeful.

I am the woman that wanted to run to the altar this past Sunday. I felt like Bo was speaking right to my heart. Bo and Kristian are very good friends so it should have been a safe place, right? It should have been easy. I felt compelled to run to Scott and Jeanna. I know they would have held me when I completely fell apart. I knew I was going to completely fall apart, and I did not want anyone to see me fall apart. I do not do vulnerable, and I surely did not want hundreds of people see me when the flood gates would break. Meeting people at their weakness is what it means to be a part of the church. Anyone who is willing to stand in for you and surround you in prayer, love and compassion at a moment’s notice, well friends, that is what it means to be the church. I do not like feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable. But sweet friends, that is what it means
to be a part of the church. It means allowing yourself to vulnerable, uncomfortable, and willing to accept the love of others in the name of Jesus. Testimonies are great but you must allow the breakthrough to happen to kickstart the testimony. You see, I not only robbed myself of the blessing of others praying for my heart, but I also robbed the church the opportunity to be the church. I robbed my dear friends the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth. I had the opportunity to allow an encounter to happen and I hesitated. I failed to do my part as the church. I failed to allow the opportunity for the others to BE THE CHURCH.

So, here’s my challenge to each and every one of you reading this. Go be the church. Take your burdens and brokenness and meet me at the well so we can release it together. Tell your desires to be comfortable to go take a hike and let’s get real with God. Allow the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let’s stop robbing each other of experiencing an encounter with Jesus. Let’s flood the well. Let’s not be ok with being lukewarm.

Thank you for allowing me to take a step in being extremely vulnerable and raw with you all. My heart is for Jesus. Like you all, I am learning everyday what it means to love and follow Jesus. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I am encouraged to keep learning and growing in being the woman God has in mind for me. I encourage you all to keep learning and growing in who God has created you to be.

I am praying that we can all release any strongholds that are weighing us down. Strongholds that we tucked away and did not know would re-emerge and wreak havoc. Jesus, please continue to mold us into the men and women you need us to be to fulfill your purposes of us to be the church. Please create a place where the chairs are full because sinners know they are welcome and belong. The church is called to be like Jesus, to walk beside the sinner, to eat with the sinner, to worship with the sinner and to do life together.