4 Ways Disability Families Can Heal after Being Hurt by a Church
4 ways disability families can heal after being hurt by a church? What? you may be thinking, only 4? Our family could use at least a gazillion! Trust me when I say that guest blogger Kristin Faith Evans knows where you’re coming from. In this post, she shares 4 effective strategies she and her family have used to heal after being hurt by a church and hold tight to their faith.
Many families have difficulty finding a church home or continuing to attend their home congregation due to their child’s special needs. They may have felt misunderstood, unsupported, or rejected. Some were even asked to leave because of their child’s behaviors or needs. In fact, almost 1/3 of special needs families have reported that they have left at least one church because their child was not included or welcomed. If you’ve been hurt by the church, consider taking these steps toward healing.
#1: Tell the Leadership How You Feel
In some cases, speaking to the leaders may cause you further emotional harm. If you believe this might be true, skip this step. But if you haven’t already and you feel comfortable, share how the situation has hurt your family. It’s possible they didn’t realize, understand, or know how to respond. Bringing it to their attention might also help prevent another family from feeling the same way in the future. Perhaps the situation can even be resolved, and the church can support your family in staying. Or it may be the healthiest decision for your family to find a new congregation. But you can leave knowing that you have communicated and attempted to reconcile.
#2: Talk to Someone You Trust
When we’ve been hurt, our natural instinct is to isolate. Being emotionally harmed by a church can be traumatic and keep us from forming new relationships. It may be hard, but reach out and talk to someone you know will be objective and supportive. It can be a family member, friend, another Christian outside that church, a support group member, or a counselor. A critical piece of your healing will be processing your experience with others.
#3: Forgive Those Who Hurt You
Anger and resentment can be toxic and keep you from healing and moving forward. Forgiving may not be easy and can take time. Talk to God in prayer about your emotions and desire to forgive those who hurt you. Receive his comfort, healing, and counsel. Forgiving does not mean that you agree with what they did or that it was right. It means that you are no longer going to hold bitterness in your heart and that you are giving your pain to God so you can move on and heal. Scripture teaches us to: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13, NLT).
#4: Don’t Give Up on Church
Visiting a new church as a special needs family can be scary, especially after a bad experience. But remember—how that church treated your family doesn’t represent all Christians or how Jesus feels about your child and your family. Belonging to a healthy church will bring you strength, hope, spiritual growth, connection, and joy. Ask around and visit churches that have disability ministries, respite programs, or support groups. And take your time. Pray that God will lead you to the right church where your family can flourish.
What do you think of these 4 ways disability families can heal after being hurt by a church? What would you add to the list? Leave your suggestions below.
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Kristin lives with her husband, Todd, and their two children in the Nashville, TN area. She is an author, speaker, mental health counselor, and a mom of two children with rare genetic disorders and complex needs. Her greatest passion is teaming up with her husband to empower other parents of children with disabilities, mental health disorders, and medical complications. She hopes that you may find encouragement and support on their website www.DisabilityParenting.com
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