Hurt People Hurt People
What do you think of when I say the words angry, thief, liar, addict, hypocrite, sad, narrow-minded, and impulsive? Let those words simmer for a bit. Not the most flattering of descriptors. Who or what comes to mind as you re-read those words?
Now, brace yourself. This might be hard to believe. I have been hurt by people. There, I said it. Crazy, isn’t it? It’s true, I want to think the best of people – and over time they earn my trust – but without fail they are sure to let me down. After I pound my fist for a day or three, I eventually dust myself off and begin to trust in people again. It starts well. My trust grows. Then … BOOM … I get hurt again.
Maybe the problem is that I am trusting the wrong people! That’s it! If I surround myself with people who are all growing and flourishing on the inside, it should protect me from the hurt cycle. Enter Church. This is more like it – friends journeying together with the Kingdom as our primary concern. These are ministry-minded folks who are worthy of my trust. In fact, their Christ-like ways are even rubbing off on me. I feel loved, respected, encouraged, joyful … BOOM! Not again! Where did that come from?
Okay. I can still learn from my mistakes. Surrounding myself with faith-centered people didn’t keep me out of the hurt cycle. So, what God must be telling me is that I need deeper, more intimate relationships – to know and be known. Enter marriage. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Everywhere I turn, people are hurting me.
Then, not too long ago, I was introduced to a one liner that has changed my life. Four simple words that carry four tons of weight. But beware … you don’t have to be a psychology major to get sucker punched by it. That line is: Hurt people hurt people.
It revolutionized my perspective. Why is there so much interpersonal pain in this broken world? Because we’re all hurting. We are bound to harm each other. The next time I felt hurt by someone, instead of outrage, I found myself wondering about the pain in their life. Could I find a wound in the very person who seems to be injuring me? Realizing the pain that we all encounter has turned my indignant nature more compassionate and sympathetic.
Something else changed as well. Understanding “Hurt people hurt people” has allowed me to face a mirror I was unknowingly avoiding. If I am experiencing all this brokenness and damage by others, then I most certainly have been inflicting my own form of pain on those close to me, those who have put their trust in me. In the Andrew Osenga song this week on UTR, he sings, “Here’s my heart for whatever it’s worth; I can’t make it good enough on my own. So give me hope that there’s a cure for this hurt; that a heart can melt from stone, ‘cause I am not enough.”
Now I read those words that opened this blog. When you first saw those words, I bet you were like me – envisioning a few hurtful people in your life – maybe a boss, a parent, a pastor, a friend. However, I’m overlooking the most obvious image. That’s me! I’m in those words. You too. Maybe we should “first get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Luke 6:42b).
This isn’t about inflicting guilt or dwelling on negativity. When I hear songwriters admit their weakness and broken nature, I find myself drawn to that vulnerability. It makes me want to become a better man. I’m so happy that there’s more and more music that is honest and exposed. It causes me to own up to my own faults and the many ways that I may inadvertently hurt those near me. The hurt cycle will never go away, but God’s healing power isn’t far away either.
Enjoy a lineup of thoughtful and vulnerable songs on this week’s Under The Radar.
written by Dave Trout