Most people have had some type of negative experiences with the Christian church. When I think through situations I have experienced or others stories one of the common trends I hear is Christians offering advice with no solution. Someone says it is wrong to do something but they do not offer an alternative. Many times people sin not out of desire to sin but out of no alternative. If someone tells you not to do something but they never teach what you are supposed to do then it is human nature and natural to keep doing what you know. I feel like this is one reason God gives us humans so much grace. If you had a child that was doing something they were not supposed to do but they had never been taught different wouldn’t you have grace for them?
I would go as far as to say if you cannot offer a solution to the problem than do not even bother bringing up the issue in the first place. When I first started talking to people about my struggle with an eating disorder I had many people do just that. They said don’t do that but they offered no solution. The first person a told didn’t even really listen to me and said a quick prayer. The next person said just eat some more, you are skinny enough. When I shared with someone I was seeking treatment they responded with that is just a waste of money. Why don’t you just eat. My mother tried to talk me out of treatment, she said you do not need help. None of the responses did any good other than maybe the prayers which help God lead and guide my way.
More recently my husband and I have shared with several individuals our struggle over whether we should have children at all and if so how because it is not in my medical best interest to carry a child. Thus we have discussed alternative options. I find it interesting that it is people outside the church that are most helpful, understanding, compassionate and supportive. Within the church I have been told many things such as it is my duty as a women to have children and I am failing at that duty. I have been told I do not have enough faith, that the right thing to do would be to act in faith to carry a child against medical advice. I have been told my husband should leave me for another women. Not one Christian we have shared about this issue has asked for further explanation of why I have reservations about children or offered to help with the issue.
These are just 2 examples of many but my point is if someone at church is brave enough to share a struggle, then you should offer to pray, show compassion/empathy and try to offer a real solution. Do not judge, do not condemn and if you have no actual solution maybe you should find the solution or point them in the direction of someone who can help them find the solution. But do not condemn or shame or tell someone to change without offering a solution to the change. It is a good thing I love Jesus or I would have walking away from Christianity a long time ago. We as christians should be reflecting Christ not turning others away from Jesus. Amen