Tuesday, 20 December 2011
There is a cliche in my line of work. "Hurt people hurt people." This means that people who have been hurt or who are currently hurting tend to bring hurt to other people. So hurt(ing) people actively hurt (other) people. Not only is this a popular saying in my life but it's a popular experience. I constantly encounter people who have been hurt who are hurting other people. I can't deny this cliche. I embrace it. I know it's true of me as well. When I am hurt I cause hurt. I believe we all do.
People hurt others in a variety of ways. Some people hurt others through insults, others through physical force, some through passive aggression, and yet others through neglect or abandonment. I'm the third. I tend to cut myself off from others when in pain and that causes problems in my relationships. When I think primarily of myself and neglect others I hurt them as much as if I were verbally or physically abusing them. Neglect is a type of abuse as well.
Everyone abuses others in a certain way. This even happens online! I've recently written about keys to communicating well, how to examine if we are loving others well, and how to maintain an attitude of love when others hurt us. Now, I want to ask if this cliche applies to us and how we can examine that.
It's good to ask "Am I hurt?" Some hurts are recent and some are deep seated in us and come from our past. A recent hurt may be the result of an argument with a spouse whereas a deep hurt may be the result of a parent hitting us as a child. Both are important because both hurt and both cause us to hurt others if we allow.
Ask if you're hurt right now. Has there been anything recently in your life that has caused you harm? What was it? What happened? Walk through it. Ask why it hurt. Should it have the amount of power that it does in your life? Are you blowing it up? Is it justified? Can you reason it away or does it need more healing than that? It's very possible it's relational pain and healing needs to happen.
If that's true then seek out who has hurt you and try to walk through the issue (of your pain) with them. Let them know how you've been hurt and try to reconcile. Try to see how they love you (hopefully they do). Do what you can to help the hurt.
If the pain is deep and from the past then, depending on what it is, a conversation may not be enough. Perhaps counseling will help (it's not just for crazy people ya know). Long-lasting pains play a part in forming our identities and we need help to see how they've worked themselves into our personality and social patterns. If we've been abused it's possible we'll be quick to abuse those who we see doing wrong because we've decided we can't stand for abuse to exist (ironic isn't it). Hurt people are fully of sad irony (I sure am).
Deep pains take help to remove and they take time. It's hard work but it can be worked out and as it gets worked out we can do our best to try and recognize it when it pops up and demands us to act upon it. As we hurt, identify our pain, and seek reconciliation/healing, we must make every effort to not give into our hurt and cause hurt to others.
Next we should ask if we are hurting others. That's a part of the healing process. In that argument that recently hurt me did I cause hurt as well? Did I do it because I was hurting? If so, apologies are repentance are in order. We've got to make things right. Am I constantly causing hurt to others? Am I rude, insulting, neglecting, abusive? Are my behavior patterns unhealthy and damaging to those around me? If so it's time to try and form new patterns.
Asking others to help us with this is good. We need people to counsel us, asking questions all the time. We need people to call us out on our abusing of others, we need accountability. As I said before, we need help and we need time. If we're hurting others we can stop doing it but it's hard. Living out the love of Christ is a killer (of self) and denying the desires of our pain and bitterness is a very difficult thing to do.
When other people are being hurtful towards us (though physical or verbal abuse, neglect, or passive aggressive acts) it's good to ask why. Are they intending to hurt or are they unaware? Is there something motivating them to hurt us? People don't hurt others without motivation, there's always a reason (even if they can't name it themselves). How has this person been hurt? Did I cause the hurt that's causing them to hurt me? Remember, people who hurt you are hurting in some way for some reason and even though they're being the bad guy they are probably the victim somehow as well. Even if they aren't they are suffering somewhere within themselves and that means they need healing and that means they need help.
We need to learn to react in love, seeing the person and not the mere situation. We must learn to be careful and thorough observers, taking note of all we can see in front of us in regards to those we interact with. It's hard to seek a fair and balanced perspective, especially when we're trying to have that perspective towards someone who is hurting us or who we want to hurt at that moment, but we have to try and see people as God sees them. We have to see people for who they are (creations of God, loved by him, tainted by sin, living in a broken world, imperfect, and hurting).
Patience and kindness go a long way. We may be interacting with someone and realize that the person has been stung with pain and thus the issue is no longer important. At this point we must begin to focus on the person and their pain. Often, the issue is not the issue. That means a person may blow up over a topic of conversation but their issue is not what is being discussed but a pain within them. The pain may be connected to the discussion but it usually has deeper roots than expected. People are deeper than we anticipate (especially online).
We're all hurt in some ways. We all hurt in some ways. None of us want to be hurt and none of us truly want to cause pain for others. In moments we may want to harm others because it's all we know to do as a reaction to our pain but we have to learn to fight this. We also must to learn to heal that when it occurs in others around us. We have to help one another, loving one another, seeking to cover pains with healing and reconciliation.
Paul stated in Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." He ends a letter to the Corinthians says, "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2Corinthians 13:11).
He tells the Church in Rome, "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality" (Romans 12:10-13).
When the desire to hurt comes up or when someone begins to act out of pain, hurting us, let us remember the Proverbs of scripture which tell us to extinguish the flames of fury and bring peace so that we may love one another. "The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out" (17:14). "A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle" (18:19). "It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling" (20:3). "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife." (26:20-21).
When in your life have you hurt someone because you were hurting? When has a hurt person hurt you? How can we be more aware of how we respond to our own hurts so that we can prevent hurting others?