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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Responding to Hurt People (Who Hurt People)

When we feel attacked – via the many forms that might take – we can know that the person inflicting the attack is themselves under attack. In that, for us, is compassion – for them.

When a person is filled with love they cannot possibly hurt people, or if they inadvertently do they’re quickly aggrieved and seek to make immediate reparation; this is the way of those who know God (1 John majors on this theme, amongst others).

There is hardly any more basic a truth with regard to relationships than hurt people hurt people. That is, people who hurt others are themselves hurt—they have unreconciled pain within them. And for this, we can feel some compassion. They do not know the peace that perhaps we might take for granted.

The Disrespectful Challenge

There are times when people challenge us front-on, directly and straight to our faces. These are common attacks. We feel attacked. This is something innate and very instinctual. We often cannot find the words to defend how we feel... we just ‘feel’ that’s all. And that’s okay. Being truthful about how we feel is all God expects from us—to be real about it.

We don’t owe the other person, in respect of the hurt, anything really so far as accounting for how we feel. (Otherwise we can almost feel guilty for feeling like we do and this isn’t God’s will. God would much sooner have us simply acknowledge our feelings. We can only process what we first acknowledge—and processing is fundamental to the achievement of God’s healing, and this, in order to forgive.)

The Covert Challenge

One way we find people can attack us in this ‘e-day-and-age’ is via electronic means; they say what they want less directly via email or text message. But it still hurts the same, and perhaps worse.

This is cowardly and yet we’ve all done it; we’ve sent the message in a more ‘palatable’ way (for us). There is no ugly ‘physical’ confrontation, less embarrassment, and it seems cleaner.

Yet, it isn’t cleaner. It leaves the grubby fingerprints of betrayal all over it.

Flipping the Logic - A ‘Jesus’ Paradigm

Notwithstanding how the hurts come, the fundamental thing to remember is we are always in control of our response.

Our logic for matters where we’re on the receiving end of those things that sting is to fight back—we’ve been insulted, betrayed or abandoned and it wouldn’t be just if we left it ‘as is’.

Jesus would flip that logic:

1. We cannot help what others think, say or do. A good Jesus-faith acknowledges this as a premise to be held dear in life. So much blessing comes from just holding that truth to bear on our hearts, to influence our minds and what we think.

2. People who’ve attacked us expect us to fight back. They’re wary of us. They don’t expect us to flip the logic. What people don’t generally understand is how we can absorb the hurt and then love them back—despite what they’ve done. These people who’ve hurt us are most won back to us potentially when we respond in love. We have perhaps partnered with God and become part of their healing!

3. With the logic flipped, and the hurter’s logic stunned, we create hope for the future. Grace is afforded to the other person, from us. The relationship is afforded a second chance by virtue of the grace we’ve partnered with; future rapport is available.

4. Best of all, we, in these moments, restrain peace. Jesus’ wisdom has seen to it that the absorbed hurt is converted to his blessing of peace. And we love swimming in that fact.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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