Hurt people hurt people
I have heard that phrase so many times it almost washes over me. Nonetheless it has been pivotal in helping me to access the grace of forgiveness. One of the key insights for me in the process was recognising the importance of pausing to absorb the sting of pain when someone hurts me. Before I lash out in retribution to consider what they may have intended. Did they really mean to hurt me; was something else going on; is this not really about me at all – were they hurt in some way and are lashing out and I happen to be in the way?
It is easy once you begin to look for it to see the hurt behind the hurtful actions of others.
What has been shocking to me this week has been to see a particular attitude of my own laid bare. I have struggled with a choice of one of my friends for a long time. This week a second friend in similar circumstances made a similar choice. I found myself responding in the same way. A hard core of unequivocal judgement in the depths of my being.
The problem is that both friends are good people who are genuinely trying to do the best that they can and this particular choice is not morally problematic. Clearly the issue is mine.
I can rationalise my position, but in the depths of my being I know that the inflexibility of the core means that that won’t actually get me anywhere. So I have sat with this perplexing issue for a few days.
Yesterday the penny dropped.
The inflexibility is masking a huge vulnerability. It plays into my oldest, deepest wound. The ground each of my friends is exploring is, to me, profoundly unsafe. But somehow, way back, unsafe and unacceptable morphed into one in my mind.
Their choices have been unacceptable to me because, to me, they are unsafe.
It is shocking to me to recognise that my own deep wounding was being transmitted unknowingly and unconsciously. I was the hurt person passing on the hurt.
It is profoundly humbling.
I am deeply grateful for the generosity of these two friends – my attitude would certainly have poisoned both friendships in time. I am truly blessed that it hasn’t done so yet.