Please Forgive Me

I want to apologize for my last post. I didn’t mean to offend anyone with my words. I guess that’s the problem with blogging. You put your thoughts out there and sometimes you don’t consider how they can be taken.
Either way, my last post was not filled with grace, and therefore I’ve deleted it.
In the future I hope to be more mindful with the words I share.
I hope you’ll forgive me, and if you think about–pray for me? My heart is to always encourage others in some way.
In His hands,
***Because of the overwhelming response in favor of this more controversial post, I’ve decided to re-post what I originally deleted. My main reason for deleting this was due to my title: “When People Suck. (Sorry Mom. And God. And Anyone Else I Just Offended. Hear me out.)”, and because my content was written with a sting still in my heart.


churchFive years ago I visited two close friends.
We’ll call them Barb and Jen.
Jen had just moved here from out of town and was considering visiting a local megachurch.
Barb scoffed, and said something along the lines of, “If all you want is a Jolly Rancher sermon, then fine. You won’t grow there. It’s fluff and no substance.”
Jen shifted in her chair, “But what about seekers? What if some people find Christ through organizations like this?”
The conversation escalated from there.
I should have said something.
My eyes darted back and forth between the two, and I sheepishly slid a little lower in my chair, as the people pleasing side of me just wanted everyone to be play nice-nice.
But they didn’t.
Two believers, one die-hard bent towards her way of worshiping because of the unbelievable growth she’d experienced, the other a lover of big churches, which offered multiple specialty outreach programs to all walks of life.
All this time later, Barb has no idea how this conversation affected Jen and her family.
But I do. I watched it unfold.
Jen loved big churches.
She always had.
Jen enjoyedthe programs and weekly meeting new people and she even used to host home fellowship groups when she lived in Nashville and attended one of the largest churches in the area.
While living in West Palm though, Jen hopped around to different medium-sized congregations, but never found one similar to her Nashville experience. So she gave up. Oh, she read her Bible and watched Andy Stanley podcasts and prayed, but she never once stepped foot into that “Jolly Rancher” church.
Not after that conversation.
I’m a little mad, sad, and relieved all squished into one right now.
Jen just told me she’s moving to Chicago.
I’m happy for her, although my heart hurts to see her go. But you know what she shared? After researching places of worship in the Chicago area, she found a large church near her new home.
She sounded excited. Then offered a qualifier, “It is one of those big churches.”
My heart sank. I knew she was hinting back to that encounter. She referenced her hesitation each time I suggested she simply give the local megachurch a try.
The whole idea of uprooting your life is filled with uncertainty, but this opportunity to get plugged in where she feels most comfortable is her glimmer of hope.
Chicagoans, beware. If I catch wind that anyone squelches this for Jen, you’ll have a five foot spunky blonde on your tail, sharing a thing or two this time.
(In the name of Jesus, of course.)
For years she avoided her favorite type of worship because of a comment.
I know it’s not all Barb’s fault. But, shame on her for planting a thought. And shame on me for not defending any sister church that is doing so much for our community.
St.coloman ChurchEnter Scenario #2
Recently a close friend (Cindy) told me a juicy tidbit she heard from a stranger (Bob) one Sunday morning, only moments after walking through the door of a new church she was trying out.
I envisioned the scene like this:
Cindy enters the church. Cindy is greeted by Bob who kindly asks a few questions, one including where she has attended before. As soon as Cindy mentioned her former church, Bob ranted for a good 10 minutes, listing his accusations for why he left said church.
On Sunday morning; right before the service.
(I’m glad people can’t read my thoughts and that Jesus is an awesome forgiver of my mental blunders.)
Stinking mad—that’s what I was when she relayed this conversation. I shouldn’t have had to say much. His character spoke for himself.
My lip twitched. I knew Bob. I knew why he left, and it was for few of the reasons he mentioned. Learning from my last mistake, my mind yelled at me. Say something, say something, say something!
So I did.
But it was the wrong something.
From deep within, I lurched up the dirty little secret I’d held in for so long about Bob, because I felt like there needed some justification for why he openly smeared another congregation.
How many sins am I up to in one post, including the potty-mouth title?
Please don’t count.
(God forgive me. I really am a nice Christian girl who rarely gets mad or raises her outdoor voice.)
Nonetheless, do you think Cindy went back to Bob’s church?
We’re human. We sin, gossip, and lie because, sadly, we’re drawn towards such behavior. It’s the curse we daily fight. But for the sake of someone’s spiritual growth, please consider the harm before speaking against another church.
Or in my case, a person or pastor/staff/Christian outreach.
Pastors are human.
Churches are run by them.
We all mess up.
We all have character flaws. (Except for me, of course. I’m all squeaky clean over here.)
If you’re looking for one perfect church—good luck.
Your pastor or church or staff worker will let you down at some point.
Maybe repeatedly.
The bottom line is, no matter what, the church is Christ’s bride.
That’s God’s girl.
So the next time you see me—be warned. This five-footer has learned her lesson, and has two strikes under her belt for pitiful responses in church-defending situations. The next time, I’m gonna say something to defend her—because Christ loves her.
We’re only hurting those seeking to grow in the Lord. I can’t imagine that’s what we want. To be that person who keeps someone from Christ.
And please, if you bump into me, refrain from explaining why you left your church to begin with. It happens. I’m just happy that we’re all attending. I want us fed. As believers, we all belong in God’s household, pursuing the same ministry goals. And loving our spiritual family is God’s desire (Ephesians 2:19b).
Can we all play nice and love God and encourage others to do the same? And the next time someone tells you what church they go to or why they left somewhere or another, maybe respond with a positive fact you do know:
“I’ve heard they have a fantastic children’s/meal/prison/outreach ministry.”
See. Nice-nice.
The enemy loves our foolishness, our shooting each other with our words. We’re pretty much doing his job. He’s the great accuser, roping us in as a fleshly accomplice.
When people suck the life from Christ’s girl, our heart should quicken for another response. Let’s all be spunky little church defenders (In the name of Jesus, of course).
(For the record, I did repeatedly apologize to Cindy for my foolishness and Mom for my post title.)

Biblical Food for Thought

  • “You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” Ephesians 2:19b LB
  • “Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family.” 1 Peter 2:17 MSG
  • “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 NLT
  • “Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25b-27 NLT
  • There are seven things that the Lord hates and cannot tolerate: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind  that thinks up wicked plans, feet that hurry off to do evil, a witness who tells one lie after another, and someone who stirs up trouble among friends. Proverbs 6:16-19 GNT

“Godly Parents are on the of the greatest gifts kids can have. Yet the way to turn our kids off to the things of God is to put down the preacher, the musicians, or the people in the church. Talk about the things of the Lord and the people of God in a merciful way, and your kids will be far more likely to grow up loving the people of God and walking in the way of the Lord.” ~ Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume II pg. 477

St.coloman Church

  1. Brenda says:

    You didn’t offend me at all and I agreed whole heartily with what you had posted and then deleted. We do need to be mindful of what we say, nothing in this world is perfect but Jesus and we can’t judge churches that people pick just because we don’t like that church for one reason or another. After all we live in the United States where we are free to make our choices in church and state. I applause you for your blog and your previous post. And yes, I will pray for you, but for you to keep posting these amazing posts. Hugs, Brenda

  2. Brenda N says:

    I agree with Brenda. The previous post reminded me that the words I say and the comments I make are heard and too often remembered by others longer than I expect. Those were words I needed to hear. I can be flip about a serious or dear situation or harsh and disrespectful. We should continue to pray for God to direct our words and be sensitive to His leading. And show Grace to one another. Thank you, Dabney! I appreciate your heart! You help me to want to be more like Jesus. (Yes I’m a different Brenda! 🙂 )

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      So I got a little teary reading this end of this. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I think I can relate to much of what you’ve said.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t read your blog, but this post struck me because of its sweet aroma of humility…something rare today. Whether your blog was offensive or not, its obvious that you have a gracious spirit, a willingingness to yield, and a desire to be led by the Spirit. How precious!

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      I do try to listen to His voice for guidance. This time I slipped up a bit.
      Thanks for your words and taking the time to post.

  4. Debbie C says:

    Your last post did not offend me in any way. I feel you wrote what God had placed on your heart with your wit and humor. Your are a precious sweet young woman to whom God has given a wonderful gift of communication. Keep up the good work and don’t let the negative comments of other discourage you. Don’t apologize for what God has placed upon your heart.

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      Thank you, Debbie. Really, I appreciate that you took the time to share your heart. I needed this today.

  5. laurabennet says:

    You are a dear. Both posts are a good reminder to all of us to consider our words carefully both in whether to say something and when not to. I didn’t find it offensive, but I also appreciate the way the Lord convicts us for the underlying things in our heart. So I want to encourage you without diminishing anything the Lord may have spoken to you. Thank you for your honesty.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don’t sweat the small stuff! The only thing I would have changed was your title–your language skills are better than that ugly vernacular! Opinions about churches, preachers, programs, etc. are meant to be shared and discussed. We’ll never all agree–that’s why they make vanilla and chocolate and so many other flavors! Keep up the good work.

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      I always take what you have to share with much consideration. Where were your words of wisdom at 9 am this morning? I’m emailing you first next time! 🙂 Then you can gently guide me in the right direction.
      Have a wonderful night.

  7. Barb says:

    Dear Dabney,
    I have recently joined your blog after reading your book. Thankful for what God has done in your life. I read both posts this morning and found neither offensive. Some times hard things need to be said. Unkind statements and gossip are not pleasing to The Lord. We are all guilty of it at one time or another and a reminder from time-to-time is not a bad thing. Your second post showed great sensitivity and such a sweet can also be very hard to be humble and gracious when one receives criticism. What a great example you are to those of us whose flesh often wants to defend ourselves in wake of criticism from our brothers and sisters in Christ. You will be in my prayers. God bless!

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      Everything you’ve said is true. We all struggle in this area. Thank you for taking time out of your day to comment, and for following the blog and reading the book! You’ve made my day much brighter.

  8. Holly Cheromcka says:

    Hey Dabney ~ Personally, I LOVED your last blog… found it heartfelt and HONEST in every way. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t owe any apology whatsoever ~ even for the title. Truth is truth, and if we allow the Spirit to guide us, it WILL set us free! Blessings on your sweet ~ Holly

  9. Dabney, you have nothing to apologise for … you’ve pulled many up and convicted many hearts I’m sure. Your ending was particularly powerful … backing up the love we should have for our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus with scripture. We fall, He picks us up … We lift Him up, He falls into our hearts xxx

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      There’s so much truth packed into that last sentence! Loved it.

      • Dabney … your comment re my comment inspired me to write this … it’s for all of us xxx
        SOMETIMES WE WILL FALL (A Song of Forgiveness and Restoration)
        When our hearts are full of joy
        And life is full of peace
        When friends are near
        And family close
        And nothing is to fear
        Remember still to bow the head
        Remember our wondrous God
        ‘Cause rain will come
        And storms will shatter
        And sometimes we will fall
        But He sends sweet, golden teardrops
        Upon the falling hearts
        His treasure mends the brokenness
        Every tear a gift of His Love
        Yes, sometimes we will fall
        Even though Jesus is our All
        Nothing will ever tear us apart
        Still we fall, we fall, we fall
        But He picks us up
        Then we lift Him up
        Still He falls, He falls, He falls
        ‘Cause He loves us so
        And will never let go
        He falls right back into our waiting heart
        ‘Cause He loves us so
        And will never let go
        He falls right back
        Into our waiting heart
        Oh! He sent sweet, golden teardrops
        Upon the now uplifted hearts
        His treasure has mended the brokenness
        Every tear a gift of His Love
        © 2014 Liana Wendy Howarth

  10. Dawn says:

    Dearest Dabney, I don’t know what you wrote or why someone was upset….what I do know is you are the girl with a heart who never would have malice intentions. What I do know is your spirit is so sweet and unassuming. I pray whatever made you delete your post will not haunt your soul or dilute what you feel pressed to share. What I do know is we all have different triggers and life experiences that make us react and see things differently. It is my biggest lesson in life that I will not please everyone and my biggest fear is that I offend someone. My heart goes out to you that you found peace and can carry on because there are so many of us who need your experiences and braverory to learn from. I feel blessed to know you and your family! I thank God for you as you are a gift to the world my friend!

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      In many ways I think we are alike! I do want to please everyone. I sure did pick the wrong hobby to get into, right? Honestly, this is God’s way of shaping me day by day.
      Thank you for your words.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can I just say “ditto” to all the other comment? I’m always humbled by your grace and humility. I love you girl.

  12. Marilou Johns says:

    That wasn’t supposed to be anonymous. Add my name to that last one. Marilou Johns

  13. I missed the post but I honor your humility! Believing and praying with you. You’re a blessing. God bless you, Dabney! 🙂

  14. Anonymous says:

    Appreciate the honesty of this blog, I just experienced this situation this week in my church and your candid honesty is refreshing!!!!!

  15. I liked the post, Dabney!
    I’m so glad that I have the post in email form – would you mind if I re-posted it on my blog? 🙂 Jesus didn’t apologize for overturning the tables of the money changers; you shouldn’t apologize either – it was righteous indignation; maybe we need more of that.
    Please don’t lose sleep over this.

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      You do know you’re one of my favorite bloggers, right? Just wanted to make sure that part was clear. It’s funny you should ask about guest blogging. Just this week I was thinking of emailing you to see if you’d like to guest blog for me, maybe share your incredible story? And as far as the post, I’ll email you with my thoughts. I may want to change the title. 😉 Although, my MOST read posts are the ones with a more shocking title. Hmmmm….

  16. Ginger P says:

    Dabney, I saved this post and the one you deleted because it spoke to a situation I am more familiar with than I want to be. Whether it offended some or not, God obviously used it to help many. I love the fresh authenticity that permeates everything you write. Your book has blessed me greatly and I have shared it with many who have also been blessed by it. Your “offensive” post blessed me when I read it and the apology post here did as well…I am just slow in getting around to replying! May God continue to use and bless you and your sweet family!

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