Experience is a great teacher.....
One of my favorite past times is to scroll through a social media platform called TikTok. I never intended to go on the platform because I heard so many mixed reviews about it and I didn't need to add another distraction to my life. I wound up going on it because of a dancer I knew from Instagram and I wanted to see more of his dances which were mainly posted on TikTok. I love TikTok more than any of my other social media platforms because it's so funny. There are also a lot of crafty ideas and life hacks on there, and lots of really neat things. Like anything, it has its downfalls too, that for me as a Christian I have to avoid. You can tailor it of course to the content that you want to see, but also there is a "for you" page where it gives you suggestions based on the content you've already liked or chosen to follow.
So the other day, I was on TikTok watching a video from one of my favorites and usually, she makes funny videos but this time she was on a rant. Previously, she posted a video about an experience she had based on her skin color and someone commented in a way that suggested to me that she was blaming the author of the video and that she shouldn't keep the conflict going by posting such content. The first thing I thought to myself was, "this commentator doesn't know any better, because she has never had the experience." You cannot criticize or add your opinion or advice to an experience you have never had. I believe this is a pitfall we face as people, a society, as Christians, and as a church body.
For example: On TikTok, there was this video by a young lady who felt that churches financially abuse their resources when it comes to tithes and offerings. So her and her husband decided to stop tithing and she talked about how she didn't see any difference as they are still financially stable, and her husband got a raise and they just bought a new house. I thought to myself "Oh boy, she done ruffled some feathers with this one!" So, I go straight to the comments and of course, dozens of Christians are jumping down her throat and browbeating her and criticizing her...I hate to say this but, as many spiritual adverse principalities, and matters of the flesh we have to fight to stay on the right path, sometimes it's church people that run people away from the church.
Some of us have had the blessing of being raised in a church where we are loved, accepted and can use our talents and gifts, and are appreciated for that. But there are also a lot of "church hurt" people that have not had very good experiences with attending church. I hear it a lot, "I don't attend church because...."that's why I don't tithe..." Some of it is weak excuses, but being "church hurt" is a very real thing. Our job is not to criticize and bible thump, it's to show them what God looks like through us as believers. Just like we don't understand their experience, they don't understand those of us who have experienced God's love, glory, mercy, blessings, and salvation. Some things you can't explain to people, some things truly have to be experienced. All my life, I heard about transformations through Christ, and I wondered about it, but it was beyond my reasoning because I hadn't had the experience.
Being church hurt is no different than being hurt any other way, emotionally, physically, or mentally. It leaves a lasting impression on you when you expected something else. When you get your heart broken in a relationship, it changes the way you view relationships because you didn't expect it. When a friend betrays you, or a parent abuses a child, you expected a different experience. Then it can make it a lot worse when you chose to confront the person, or try to talk it out with people and they diminish it like it was no big deal, you should just get over it or try to make you feel like it was your fault.
When I got serious about my walk with God, one of my favorite scriptures became James 1:2-5. It says " Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything."
Another one that stays with me is Romans 5:3-5 "But we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
I know it sounds odd to rejoice when you are going through tough times and adversity but I love these verses because it reminds me that my trials and sufferings are not for nothing. I am growing, learning, and becoming because of my trials, and in a lot of ways made better for it. God is pruning me, molding me, and preparing me for what he has for me, so he can get the glory for it and so that I can share my experience with Him with others, so they too can become the person God created them to be.
I see the evidence of it in my life and things that didn't make sense or didn't seem fair before...I get it now. So be mindful of that, when someone shares their experience with you. If you've never had it, how do you know?