When I was a child and I would get hurt, I spent zero amount of my time walking around talking to my friends about what or who hurt me, hoping that them feeling sorry for me would make me feel better. When I was hurt, I would make a B-line for my mom! Wherever she was was the place that I would soon be, even if it were down the street at a neighbor’s house. I would run as fast as I could to get to her. She would hold me and comfort me and make everything OK.
My nine-year-old daughter does the same with me. She comes to me, sometimes with tears in her eyes, and asks me for “magic kisses.” It’s what she’s always known. What she’s looking for is what I was always looking for, the loving comfort of a parent. Why don’t I still do that?
That leads me to the point of this blog.
People suck! They just do! All of them… I mean… us, all of us!
It started with Adam and Eve.
I wish we could all be perfect like Jesus. But we’re not.
In our own ways, all of us are all of these things. Some in more drastic ways than others, but all of us nonetheless.
With this in mind, why do we project so much expectation onto others? Why do we hold other sucky humans to the same standard that we hold Jesus?
None of us can make everyone happy all of the time. In fact, who would want to? If I worked endlessly, trying to meet one person’s expectations of me, I would invariably be doing so at the expense of another person’s expectations.
So why is it then, knowing that Jesus was the only perfect person who ever stepped foot on this Earth, and realizing that every single person that we know will eventually let us down in some way, why do we let it wreck us as we do?
I have had some pretty big upsets in my life. Some of them were by people who I thought very highly of. These people held very prestigious titles and offices. I think that’s what hurt me the most. It wasn’t so much that they hurt me, it was the fact that I had placed so much value on them, that I was devastated to learn that they could and even would do something to hurt me.
Their actions shattered my world (but only for a short period of time).
And I admit that I handled the situations poorly. I’m just being honest.
I talked harshly about these people!!
I wanted to be vindicated. I wanted people to understand just how badly I was hurting. Like mothers sometimes tell their children when they are hurt and crying, I needed to “get it all out.” I still catch myself doing it sometimes.
Here’s the thing, I will never be able to get it all out. Sometimes I think about these events that have taken place in my life, and I start to hurt all over again. I’m getting better at reminding myself just to hand it off to my God.
What does tearing someone else down do for me?
For one, it brings all of the hurt back to the surface again. So, in essence, it’s self-destructive. It does me more harm than it does the person who harmed me.
It’s like the “conflict trap” that sociologists use to describe sub-Saharan African countries that are experiencing civil wars. They are not only suffering because they are destroying their own countries physically, but they are also suffering because they are using all of their time and resources to support the
war destruction-effort instead of using them to fix the problems.
That’s how it works when I talk badly about others who have hurt me. Not only am I bringing those old feelings back to the surface, which hurt me all over again, but, I also keep myself from benefiting from what I could have learned from the situation. I keep myself from moving forward because I’m living in the past.
So what SHOULD I do with all of this hurt, and frustration, and pain?
I’m learning (much slower than I should) to use the F-word!
I know, you’ve heard it all before.
Now, before you tune out let me say this: I never want to be friends with or associates of these people again. I would never put myself in a position to be hurt by them again. That’s not what forgiveness is.
But forgiveness frees my own heart from the bondage of hurt and releases me from the bitterness that destroys any hope of me developing other healthy relationships in the future.
You know what does NOT do those things? Talking about these people who hurt me behind their backs. Talking about them over and over and over just keeps the pain at the surface.
You know what else?
Other people LOVE to hear the dirt about these people, but couldn’t care less about it. They go right on supporting them anyway.
After the last time I was hurt pretty significantly, many people asked me to tell them my story. They wanted to know what had happened. They supported me, listened to me, empathized with me, agreed with me, felt badly for me…. and then went right on supporting those who had wronged me.
The only thing that happened was the delay of my healing process through forgiving these people. There was no positive outcome in displaying my hurt for all to see.
There are a boat load of scriptures about forgiveness. You can read some of them by clicking here.
If you are a Christ follower, I know that you’ve heard all of these scriptures before. And I know that it is hard to put them into practice sometimes. I also know that as Christians, we realize that the right thing to do is to say that you forgive people, even if you truly have NOT.
Sometimes it takes years to truly forgive a person.
Sometimes it takes decades!
Sometimes it takes a lifetime!
For me, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of pride swallowing. It takes a lot of me telling myself that no matter how much I try, I will never be vindicated for these wrongs in this lifetime, so I shouldn’t waste another breath trying to force that vindication.
I am slowly seeing the better life that God has for me because of it.
I’m learning to love people for who they are and not for who I expect them to be.
I’m learning that every day is a new day to win this battle, at least for this day.
I don’t talk about these people much anymore. It does nothing good for anyone, especially me!
I’m a work in progress.
I don’t expect apologies from these people…. ever! It’s just not going to happen. And even if they did apologize, it doesn’t erase the years of hurt.
I understand that if anyone deserves to not be forgiven, it’s ME. The life that I’ve lived has been full of selfish, sinful, destructive choices that made me happy for just a moment.
Stick with me here…
I was a police officer for several years. I’ve observed several people die from violence. I’ve seen bodies that were just riddled with gory destruction. I’ve watched people take their last ragged breath of this life and bleed out in front of me.
It’s real. Believe me, It’s NOT as seen on T.V.
I can’t imagine that Jesus did this for me. I can’t fathom it! I can’t believe that God would allow that to happen, knowing the choices that I would one day make. I don’t deserve it….
But He DID!
And because of it, I am forgiven!
That’s a love that I can’t even comprehend.
Here’s something better. When Jesus was still in His ministry, the religious elite were always trying to get Him to slip-up so they could prove to everyone that He wasn’t the Messiah. On one of these occasions, they asked Jesus a question, hoping He would give an answer that they could destroy Him with. It’s recorded in Matthew and Luke. Here’s the story:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:34-39
WHOA! SLOW DOWN THERE SUPER-J!!!
That’s amazing! That’s ridiculous! Love my neighbor as myself? Even those who have hurt me? Even those who have intentionally done wrong? Just like God forgave me?
So maybe I’m not too good to forgive others? Maybe I can work a little harder at not tearing people down. Maybe I can do my part to model the Christian values that I love to promote. Maybe I can realize that everyone else is just like me…. Jacked-up! All of them will eventually let me down in some way just as I will them.
What I do after they let me down determines how long I hurt.
God wants us to run to Him when we are hurt. Just like we ran to our parents when we were young. We believed that they could make anything better.
God doesn’t want us spending one-second rehashing the hurt by talking about each other behind each other’s backs. He doesn’t want us to hurt any longer than we have to. He doesn’t want us to hurt others in the process of our own hurt. He wants us to RUN to HIM!
Without wasting time.
He is a good Father! He will comfort you. He will hold you. He will sustain you. He will heal your hurt…. Maybe even with magic kisses…
Why do you think that Christians find it so easy to talk about others behind their backs?
How does this behavior possibly affect others who are wondering about this whole “God” thing?
What advice would you give to me or anyone else to help us to forgive and heal?