Hurt people hurt people.
We’ve all heard it before — that explanation for another’s behavior — that justification for wound-inflicting words — that “place of acceptance” begging us to extend grace.
I’ve walked the road of forgiveness only to walk it again. Have you gone on the journey twice — or maybe several times — because you can’t quite dwell at the destination? Because your heart’s so restless you can’t rest in that renewed place? Yeah, me too. It’s like we’re all travelers clutching our own bags — our own baggage — back on that same path to letting go.
I’m walking that path right now, but it’s no one’s doing but my own. I’m walking the road toward forgiving myself this time, and gosh, I hate the journey even more. I’ve cried at being the victim, but the shame of being the perpetrator is so heavy it wrenches tears out of me I didn’t know I had.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, my people say. I even whisper it to myself, Hurt people hurt people. It’s just sort of unavoidable.
But we were made for more.
I was hurting, and my pain got the best of me. It dulled me to all things beautiful. And when you can’t find beauty, our souls wrestle in angst, and our mouths just sort of follow. We lose perspective and then mindlessly react. At least I do.
Finally, Peter writes, Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, a humble mind.
Peter, the former racist. Peter, the one with a crazy temper. Peter, the wound-giver. The guy you would have wanted to avoid collapsed into grace and started challenging us to live in community.
We stare from afar with our pointing fingers and feel good about ourselves for a moment — until we dare to look and see ourselves in the drama, too.
I’ve chosen to talk when I should have remained silent. I’ve chosen to talk when I should have remained silent. Have your grumbly thoughts ever spilled onto others? You feel relief for a second before you’re carrying the burden again for days. Complaining is exhausting. Grumbling is draining.
Has Satan made his way into your “authenticity”? He weaves himself into my conversations and before I know it, he’s blown everything out of proportion. And yes, I’m trying to be real, but if I don’t watch it, my enemy even distorts that, too.
My fleeting moment of venting wasn’t so fleeting after all. And I find myself worshiping what I complain about.
In these moments, my realness, my transparency, is doing anything but fostering unity and sympathy and love and tenderness and humility. My words hang out there, picked up by whomever is hungry, and then twisted and repackaged and delivered to a whole new audience.
Unity and sympathy and love and tenderness and humility — its all so random. But maybe not.
When we take a risk and dare to heap on sympathy and love, somehow unity is unavoidable. My eyes open up to the big picture, and my quiet rage and unforgiving spirit and grumbly heart don’t seem so useful anymore.
Somehow I can see the forest through the trees again, and my perspective becomes much bigger than my own drama. My grumbling and my complaining, well, I see them for what they really are — tools to help others lose perspective, too.
It’s hard to discipline our minds, to hold fast to the larger perspective, and to be led by humility. But in those moments, I’ve found sympathy and love and tenderness for others in the deepest places of my heart.
Hurt people hurt people.
Yes, I’ve been hurt. And yes, I’ve done the hurting. But by His wounds I am healed, and He heals those I’ve hurt, too.
Thank goodness. Thank goodness for that cross. Mercy.
I may just walk that road toward forgiveness throughout my lifetime. There’s always something to forgive — always. But the longer I journey, the more resting I do. I find crevices of His grace wooing me to linger in His restoration, pausing in His redemption, a little longer each time.
This post can also be viewed as a guest post on the blog of Greentree Community Church (St. Louis, Missouri).