When You’re the One Grumbling


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.

photo by Kevin Lee on Unsplash

This post can also be viewed as a guest post on the blog of Greentree Community Church (St. Louis, Missouri).

When You Want to Reconcile the Drama


I remember the struggle during my first pregnancy.  September 11, 2001.  The due date of my son was just three months away.

What are we thinking bringing a child into this world?  Into this brokenness? I pondered, feeling inadequate.  Foolish.  Fearful.

But he came, and his sister followed two years later.  And brokenness still rages outside our home.  It rages inside our own walls sometimes.  But redemption is big.  And my babies are a part of it.  Already.

Thousands of years ago, Christ’s ancestor carried twin boys.  Rebekah was no fool.  She had heard stories of pregnancies, but she knew — she knew — something bigger was going on within her womb.
She didn’t run to the midwife.  Or to her friends who’d tell her what she wanted to hear.  Or to the current philosophies of her ancient world.
No, she knocked on the Door of Wisdom.  And, oh my goodness, He answered her and trusted her with news of Israel’s future.  God trusted her, a woman, a pregnant woman living in the ancient Middle East.
My God — He’s so counter-cultural.  He was even back then.

But the children she carried struggled and fought with each other
until, in great pain,
she exclaimed, “What is going on? Why is this happening to me?”  In frustration she inquired of the Eternal One why this civil war was occurring inside of her.  Two nations are growing inside of your womb, and the two peoples will be divided in the future.  One will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. 
Genesis 25:22, 23

Heavy stuff for a pregnant woman to ponder —
two children, struggling against each other already.  And the future looked all the more complicated.

Bless her.  Bless Rebekah’s little hormonal, emotional, nesting heart.  Her present struggle foreshadowed even greater drama and family tension and messiness. (Take a moment to consider: the Eternal Rescuer came from this family line, from this shame.)
And I want to escape the drama of today, but He pulls me back to it.  I was made in His image.  I was made to redeem.  I was made to restore.  Made to know Him who calls me His own.
Yet I run again to idols to help make sense of it all.  I grab books off the shelf and read man’s self-help wisdom.  I scan social media for tips on creating and restoring and making beauty in the world.  I try to fix the messiness by seeking that which isn’t so threatening.  But really, I’m just disengaging with what should truly hold my attention.

I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be liberated, will go in and go out, and will find pastures. 
The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy;I came to give life with joy and abundance.”  John 10:9,10

So I follow Rebekah to the Door.  To the Giver of Answers.  To the Giver of Peace when there are no answers.

I don’t even have to knock.