What do we do with the hurt we've been handed in life? That's a question we all must answer at some point in our lives.
The experience of hurt is a great equalizer in life. No matter your age, income level, race, gender, or where you come from, we all experience it.
Hurt and pain come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us have gone through heartbreaking loss, abuse, abandonment, public failure, or someone close enwrapped in addiction.
But for many of us, it's small knicks and bruises along the way – we want someone's attention and get ignored, a sharp word was spoken to us, a friend who broke your trust.
There are a few common responses we have, as humans, to that hurt and pain - some healthy and some not.
1. We Could Pretend and Protect
When you pretend the hurt isn't there, you may catch yourself saying things like "It's no big deal," "I'm fine," "I'm good," and "I don't care," even though I know that whatever happened stung a little bit.
And when we pretend it's not there, it leads to the next logical step - protecting from any future pain.
This is when the walls go up. We opened up, and they betrayed our trust, so we decided not to trust someone again. We try something new only to fail, and we decide we won't risk in that way again. Or we love someone and then lose them and decide we won't allow our hearts to be that open again to someone.
This approach also creates two natural consequences:
We become trapped and increasingly unable to connect with others.
We hold others responsible for pain or hurt that they didn't cause.
2. We Could Remember and Acknowledge
To move forward, sometimes we have to remember, look back and acknowledge the reality of painful moments.
Admitting that the pain exists and the hurt happened feels vulnerable. Opening up to someone, trying again, and deciding to remove the walls that have protected you is risky.
In Isaiah 53, there is a remarkable statement made about Jesus. It says, "he was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief."
It doesn't matter whether the hurt is a minor slight or a significant loss in your life. God understands your grief because he's experienced it as well.
In the book of Job, it says, "…those who mourn are lifted to safety."
In other words, God is saying, I know the pain and hurt – big and small. I see the temptation to pretend and protect your way through it. He is also saying that he's inviting you into a life where the pain of our past doesn't keep you from living in the future.
Is there any hurt, big or small, that we need to acknowledge today? Admit that it happened, and it hurt? It starts there because we can't pretend our way out of hurt.
Is there anyone we need to let in that we have walled off – not because of anything they've ever done but because it's felt too risky to let them in close? We can't protect our way from our hurt without ultimately trapping ourselves.
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