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Sliced to the bone, laid bare and bleeding.
That’s how I would describe some of my most painful experiences. And unfortunately, most of those hurtful times were from the very people who weren’t supposed to hurt me. Sound familiar?
For years I have spent time in prayer, asking God to help me sort through and deal with the issues that lay dormant within my heart. But as I was praying not long ago, a question sprung to my mind.
“Are these issues truly dormant?”
No, they’re not. I had to admit they are actually just waiting, ready to spring up and shout ugly things the moment I feel I may be entering a familiar situation.
This reality was brought even clearer into focus when I found myself surrounded by a group of individuals who had all been hurt in similar ways. At first, it felt nice to be understood. And it seemed as if we all shared a special bond. You know, the kind of bond where you can talk about your hurt and be validated for all the feelings and emotions that come with it. And so, you talk and share and support and empathize. Talk some more. And some more. And some more.
This went on for a bit before I fully grasped what was happening. We had all gathered, and we all shared a bond of past hurt. But we were all speeding rapidly toward a new bond.
The bond of bitterness. Or should I say, the bondage of bitterness.
What had begun as helping and caring had turned into something damaging. We had begun holding bashing sessions. Gross stereotypes were put into place. Strong, and factually skewed, statements were made. Indignation replaced all thoughts of healing. Grudges were growing while whatever forgiveness that had once been offered was slowly taken back.
And, well, as human nature works…then we began turning on each other. Arguments and misunderstandings started popping up at alarming rates. What had once tied us together was now tearing us apart.
Isn’t that how it goes?
After leaving the group, I was able to gain more clarity. And that’s when I was hit over the head with a truth that I have known for a long time; yet for some reason, I seem to forget it’s impact far too often. It’s something that Joyce Meyers is known for saying.
Hurting people, hurt people.
I’ve seen this truth in my children. My husband and I are working hard to train them to come home from a bad day at school and simply say, “I had a bad day,” rather than lash out and be grumpy.
I’ve seen this in my own heart and actions as well. Just like I’m teaching my children, God’s diligently teaching me to use my words for good resolution rather than negative reaction.
I’ve seen this in the church, in the workplace, in the neighborhood, at restaurants and even the grocery stores where I shop.
The truth is, hurt never lies dormant. It affects and infects every thought and action. And that’s why it’s so vital to actively seek God’s healing.
As I think about this concept, a new question springs forth: If hurting people hurt people, what do healing people do?