It works both ways.
A saying I hear often is ‘hurt people hurt people,’ and man, is that ever true. When we’re in pain it’s so easy to lash out, to break things, to cut somebody with our words or actions.
Most of us can think of times when we were really harsh to the people around us, and these were times when we were suffering, personally. I was going through a divorce. I had just been fired. I was in labor.
It’s important to keep this in mind, for at least two reasons. First, I should pay to attention to my own pain, knowing that when I’m hurt I’m more likely to be mean and hurtful to the people around me, especially the people I love the most. If I’m careful I might avoid saying or doing things I’ll regret later.
Second, I can be mindful of the well-being of people around me who are being mean. I can try to imagine how their hurtful behaviors may be coming from their own hurt. I can give more of my energy to compassion and less to judgment, and maybe even find a way to help.
This is not easy, but it’s worth a try.
Because here’s another thing: It’s not just that hurt people hurt people. This concept, this transference, applies in other ways, too. Loved people, love people. Forgiven people forgive people.
In church, we spend a lot of time reminding ourselves of God’s love for us. It’s something we have to talk about, over and over, all the time, partly because we’re inclined to forget it, but also because it’s just a really big idea to wrap your head around.
When you really and truly believe and know that you are loved by God, no more and no less than any other person who has ever lived, you feel your power and purpose for loving everyone around you. When you grasp, even for a moment, that you are forgiven of your sins, and that nothing can ever separate you from God’s love, it empowers you to imitate that forgiveness in how you treat others in their shortcomings.
The apostle Paul once wrote to his friends, “The gospel has been bearing fruit among you since the day you heard and truly comprehended the grace of God.” (Colossians 1:6)
We are just as vulnerable to pain as they were, and just as susceptible to hurting others. We are also loved as much as they were, and we can be just as fruitful, as well.
The Table is a Christian community of transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship at The Table, Sunday Oct. 2, 5pm
Bucktown Center for the Arts, Downtown Davenport, Iowa