The Hurt of Healing
Devastating Changes & New Directions
Have you ever given your testimony while in “The Message”? Have you ever had to stand in front of a church and share the story of how you committed your life to the Lord, and found your ultimate salvation in the faith of the Message of the Hour?
I can say that I have; and more than a few times. As a new believer, I was asked to tell my story many times. As a young minister, it became a valuable tool when speaking to youth, who I felt needed to hear positive stories of change and spiritual birth. Every time I told it, I spoke with genuine gratitude for the experience of change I received. I spoke of how my life was spared of being trapped in a denominational church, and how answers to my depression were found in coming to “The Message”.
Even in the very last sermon I ever preached in a message church, I stood before a large crowd and told them a part of my story. I was the boy who grew up through depression, loneliness and confusion – with the desire for finding God pulling at my conscience. When despair threatened to steal me away, circumstances brought me to a Message Church. I soared to tell of how my heart was transformed from hopelessness to joy. And it was true – that’s what happened.
It was in 1998 when I walked into a Message Church for the first time. It was in February 2013 when I walked out for the last time. For 15 years, I applied my every faculty of heart and mind to the teaching of William Branham, and the church I had made my home. As much as it shocked even myself that I left the Message, I’m sure it baffled many others too. How does a believer in the Message go from telling powerful testimonies and preaching it…to walking away from it? How does one have such a drastic change of mind and faith?
Unless you’ve been through the experience, you cannot begin to imagine how difficult the decision is. And as difficult as the decision may be, the aftermath is no less devastating and traumatic. One cannot count the endless hours toiling through painful thoughts, questions that have no answers, and tears that overwhelm. One cannot measure the fears and confusion.
The Healing Hurts
This is precisely why I have made a decision to emerge from a relative hiatus on Morning Mercy to offer a window of understanding for those searching for hope and light.
There are explanations for the entire scope of experience:
- for being devoutly obedient and having complete faith in the doctrine and prophet
- for the fear of doubts and questions
- for the pain of finding legitimate problems
- for the trauma of leaving and living away from all that seemed familiar and sure
- for the gulf that divides you from people in the Message
- for the confusion that decisions present; what church to attend? what rules to follow? who to trust? what is true?
Understanding what has happened to you through the dynamic of “The Message” is powerful. Taking the time to read, to learn about other similar groups (Mormonism, Moonies, Jehovah’s Witness, Armstrongism, Scientology, etc), to connect with other people who’ve left, to reach out for professional counseling or read their matierials, to be patient with yourself – it’s all valuable and needed. It takes time. And – because it involves exposing your heart and a gradual tearing away from things that were precious to you – it hurts.
Healing: Full of Hope & Promise
Healing. It’s one of those words that encompasses so much that is positive and good. It’s a destination full of hope and promise, and the prospect of renewed health inspires people expend their resources of energy, faith, finance and time. But healing is always the result of damage, hurt, sickness and pain. Just know, when the healing is done, you’re going to be thankful for the new life you’ve been given.
I am not a professional. I am not a trained psychologist or theologian. I do not have all the answers, nor will I pretend to think I have it all figured out. However, since 2012, I have been learning the matters of the heart and mind, from the viewpoint of one who just lived through something intensely difficult and who wanted to understand. My objective isn’t to redefine religion for you, or to tell you what “truth” is. It’s simply to give tools for taking steps forward when the smallest steps seem so uncertain and hard.
If you are either a believer in The Message of the Hour, a person who is on the journey away from William Branham’s teaching, and/or someone who is trying to make a journey to find their authentic self – I hope I can provide some insight from someone whose walked this very hard road.