Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It was mid-morning and I was sitting across from a lovely woman who had invited me to attend a study group on how to find a godly husband. I'd declined the invite, and when she suggested we have a private study group, just the two of us, I suggested we meet for coffee instead.

So we met, and we talked about relationships, and inevitably the question, the idea, the topic of "hurt," came up. She explained that her generation had experienced such hurt in relationships that they wanted to protect the next generation from similar wounds. I've heard this before. I've heard it over and over. A thousand times.


The idea of protecting against hurt creates a storm in my belly. 

Because hurt is human. Hurt is normal. You will get hurt. You will hurt others. Trying to protect a generation from this part of life is a violation, a stunning act of control that causes so much hurt.

In living your life, in being yourself, the made-in-the-image of God human that you are, you will hurt people, and people will hurt you. 

You will cause and experience unintended hurt. You will cause and experience unanticipated hurt. You will cause hurt you'll never know about. You will be hurt by those who will never know they've hurt you.

Once for too long after a spectacular season of hurt, I tried to shut myself away in a house, in a room, and still I hurt people. Still people hurt me.

Hurt is unavoidable.

Hurt is a normal human emotion, born out of vulnerability and trust. Hurt is a normal human emotion born out of meeting another person and realizing sameness, differences. Hurt is a normal human emotion that, through normal experiences of life as a human,* becomes a part of the thread that knits you together into who you are.

Hurt shows you are alive, breathing. Hurt is an indication of your fallibility, your capacity for experiences along the spectrum of human emotions. 

I propose a different idea: instead of avoiding hurt, learn to navigate it. Learn to sail those rough waters, to lean into the wind, to rest and mend your sails and then keep on going.

Learn to balm your wounds with noise, with silence, with anger, with laughter, with solitude, with company, with words, with pen on paper, with a voice into the wind. Learn to walk in the darkness when there is no light. Learn to be alone. Learn to recognize the hurt places and acknowledge the pain. Learn to sit with the pain for days, for weeks, for months, for as long as it takes until peace starts to appear in the corners, around the edges. Learn forgiveness and the goodness of rage. Learn to stop and rest. Learn to keep moving.

There is depth in this. This depth is what reaches out and is met by other people. There is knowledge of yourself, of the whole of humanity, of your made-in-the-image-of-God-ness in this. Allow hurt to expand your empathy. Allow hurt to broaden your view of the world and the people in it. Let it take years and years if it takes years and years.

Wrestle with it.

Take responsibility for it.

Use it as a building block that expands rather than confines.

*There is hurt that is evil, wrong, unwarranted, and unnecessary. Hurt that violates and corrupts. Hurt that is cruel and intentional and inhumane. That hurt is not born out of vulnerability and trust. And while we all may experience that kind of hurt in our lives, and it can become a part of who we are, I am not talking about that kind of hurt here.

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© The Attic at Anderwood Maira Gall.