pursuing peace in what feels like a religious mess by Charity Hestead

Charity is a beautiful young woman who with utter honesty and a raw heart opens up about the wreckage of  what feels like religion on her family and how she is pursuing Christ and His peace outside of His people and their wars. I absolutely adore her and when you read her words, you will too. – Willow

Whoever of you loves life, and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.Psalm 34:12-14

I’ve been at this blog for about a month now. It isn’t writer’s block holding back, though—the words come out easily, tumbling over each other in fiery emotion—they just weren’t the right words. They’re true, yes, in fact painfully honest. But they aren’t right. What I mean is, they aren’t loving or compassionate or altogether helpful. Simply put, they were not words of peace. I have been sitting in confusion as to what my intentions were
in writing this blog, and didn’t want to contribute until they were pure. After prayer and time, tears and quiet thoughts, I believe they now are and I hope they speak truth in love.  

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.Psalm 34:18

My family is in a time of healing right now. A time of healing that is messy, sorrowful, angering, confusing, and isolating, all at different times. My dad, a pastor, and my mother, a worship leader, have been at the church I grew up in for 27 years and my siblings and I have watched them be in turmoil in their ministry for the last four, for reasons far too long-winded to be useful here. Simply put, as of July this summer their time at the church was over and the aftermath has left us and others reeling in displacement, fury, relief, and a myriad of other confusing emotions. Some days
I feel an overwhelming sense of hope for my parents, but most days hot tears are not far from my eyes—even driving back into my hometown renders me furious. And the most frustrating part for me is how voiceless I feel.

For the last two months I have housed an almost uncontrollable urge to fire back with words; to make sure that every person who caused pain receives pain in return. To scream truth from rooftops, to make people understand the depth and width of the situation. These harsh words have
spun like a hurricane in my head and keeping them there made me feel mute, self-silenced. But even in the midst of crisis I knew that my anger at the church, at religion and its leaders, was not in the right form to be shared. As much as my silly, petty self wanted retribution, Christ in me yearned for peace instead. Every day I prayed for a spirit of forgiveness instead of vengeance and slowly, God began to grant it for me. As I ran from religion as I’d always known it, I collided squarely with the Prince of Peace and he is slowly filling in the dark cracks with light.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

As a girl often weighed down with anxiety, I yearn for peace. One of the last sermons I heard my dad preach was about the difference between being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. A peacekeeper will smooth things over, let things slide, swallow conviction to avoid conflict and keep the peace. A peacemaker will do whatever it takes to create peace; and often that means conflict or change as part of standing up for truth. In the Psalms we’re instructed to seek peace and pursue it—not just to pray for it or hope it comes. We have to make peace out of turmoil. Just as we have to choose joy and keep choosing it, we have to seek peace and keep pursuing it because if we resign to the way things are, we are simply giving up. Even now, as my anger at the church often invades my heart and soul, I have to trudge through that anger to make peace. Jesus has to collide with me every day, multiple times an afternoon and morning, to keep me a person who loves life and does, in fact, desire to see many good days.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

When peace feels far from you, I urge you to chase it—run through the chaos, through the desert and through the wilderness, and pursue it until it overtakes your whole being and allows you to do good again. Believe in the refuge of Jesus, the goodness of people, and the beauty of this world even
when there’s no evidence in sight. Seek peace and find it.

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6 thoughts on “pursuing peace in what feels like a religious mess by Charity Hestead

  1. Wende

    Charity,
    Thank you for prayerfully putting these painful but beautiful words together. I pray peace for your family and joy in the next journey Christ brings for you all.

    Reply
  2. Wende

    Charity,
    Thank you for prayerfully putting these painful but beautiful words together. I pray peace for your family and joy in the next journey Christ brings for you all.

    Reply
  3. Wende

    Charity,
    Thank you for prayerfully putting these painful but beautiful words together. I pray peace for your family and joy in the next journey Christ brings for you all.

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    Charity – I am moved by your courage to run from the dysfunction, but not from the Christ whose name the work was being done in. So glad for these times when He meets us because we’ve left behind all the trappings of how we used to interact with Him. Praying for your family and for each member to connect with Jesus through this.

    Reply
  5. Catherine

    I read the last paragraph over and over. It speaks loud. Thank you, Charity, for helping me grow and sharing with so many.

    Reply

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