I couldn’t tell you when or where I heard it, but long ago I heard the saying “Hurting people hurt people.” In my line of work, I see many hurting people. The trouble is, the kinds of wounds that walk through my door for the most part aren’t physical. They are emotional or behavioral or spiritual. To a very large extent, those are the hurts that can be harder to deal with, harder to manage, harder to accept, harder to understand, harder to provide grace for. Why? Because they often aren’t obvious. They don’t scream like a broken leg in a cast, “I’m hurt and in pain…be gentle around me.” They don’t even whisper like eyes looking through glasses, “Be careful, for without my glass crutch I would be lost.”
No, emotional hurts, pain, wounds are often not even recognized by the one suffering with them. Those are the injuries that often get “shoved deep down” to “deal with” on another day, a day when it’s more convenient. Except, because they are shoved deep down and not glaring when one looks in the mirror, that more convenient day never seems to arrive. And then, S*M*A*C*K!! Seemingly out of nowhere, the compilation of hurts and pain and wounds erupts one day…often in excess to the trigger that caused the smoldering volcano to spew, and probably just as often toward someone undeserving.
The Bible tells us in Luke 6:45 (NIV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
So all the pain, sorrow, rejection, humiliation, shame that we harbor in our hearts will eventually be spoken to someone else.
At one point this weekend I found myself frustrated and angry, and as I proceeded with my task I found the anger intensifying and I found myself role-playing in my mind. A game of charades in my thoughts, projecting my anger onto someone else. Yet, no-one was around. I was alone with my thoughts and with my heart. Yet even when I tried to focus on something else, the anger bubbled up within me. As I silently asked myself “Why am I so angry?” That’s when I remembered that “Hurting people hurt people.”
Then plain as day it came to me, “I feel hurt.” And the recipient of my mental charade of wrath was being directed at the person who had offended me. Yet that individual was blissfully unaware of the anger that was dancing a duet without its partner. And while sure enough, I felt hurt, I didn’t like the feeling of anger within me. I didn’t want that to spill over my lips toward my offender or toward the innocent bystanders who happened across my path.
I went to church with a sorrowful heart. Saddened that I would feel such ugly, vile feelings, and sadder still with the realization that because of the hurt I felt, I could inflict that pain on someone else. Yet in that service, through the worship and scripture, I was assured that God had come to rid me of that wart of imperfection and to comfort my hurts. I walked out of that service with a much softer heart.