Monday, February 13, 2012

HURT

~ This is one of the most moving songs I have ever heard. ~


I heard of yet another death this week, not a relative but a co-worker's family member. 2011 was a tough year for death in our family. I am at that age where I seem to know more people who are passing away than are getting married or having babies. I was talking with my son, Nathan, about this and told him, 

"When you have more days behind you than in front of you, 
you seem to reevaluate life."

So, as I sit and look at life I realize that hurt and pain comes in many forms. We do feel the sting when someone we love passes. We attempt to reassemble our lives and go on. If we are people of faith, we know that this life is temporary and a greater life awaits us on the other side of death. 

However, in many ways that is a pain that fades over time. When we are hurt by a person or an institution, we are left with not only hurt but a gaping hole in our ability to trust. We are hesitant to trust people around us. 

I know people who had some sort of conflict with someone years or even decades ago. Even after all this time they still carry within themselves the pain as if it were still happening. All it takes to bring it to the surface is a random memory or some other trigger. When at the surface, it is as though it was happening all over again. Military families see something similar to this when a loved one comes home from a war zone. Psychologists call this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD.  Many people today are still wounded by some pain or hurt and are haunted by a form of PTSD.

Over my life I have had my share of hurt and pain, in my humble opinion, more than my fair share. I was trapped in the ever spiraling descent into hatred. When I heard that something horrible had happened to one of the people who hurt me - I was glad. Then, I heard the person who had hurt me more deeply than words can describe was diagnosed with ALS. Surprisingly, I was not glad, I started crying. I made the call to my ex-wife and apologized for anything I had done to hurt her and she did the same. I truly believe God touched my heart. All of the bitterness and hatred for her was gone. Along with her husband and our two children I spent much of late 2010 and early 2011 at her bedside. When she passed away in May of 2011, her husband and I sat on each side of her deathbed holding one of her hands. Since that time I have tried to rebuild relationships that were broken. Was the hatred worth it? - NO!

This carried over to me attempting to heal relationships that I had caused the hurt. Again, to my surprise, I found that to be the more difficult. When you have hurt someone, going to them and asking for their forgiveness is a difficult task. My tongue is a very effective weapon. I have used words as weapons for years. I was always very good at removing the issue from the argument turning it into a personal attack on the person with whom I was arguing.

I remember the old preacher story about the farmer, Josephine shared it with me this morning.

There once was a boy who had a bad temper.
His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he 
lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy has driven 37 nails into the fence,
Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger,
the number of nails he used began to dwindle down.
He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive
the nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the 
boy did not lose his temper at all. He told his father about it, and
the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each
day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father
that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand
and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well my son,
but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same.
When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.
You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It will not matter how 
many times you say you are sorry, the wound is still there."

A verbal wound can, more often than not,
cut deeper than a physical wound.

I truly believe that the only way a person can be healed from these wounds is by the touch of God. Jesus continually told his disciples to forgive as God has forgiven you. In Jeremiah 31:34b, Yahweh says,

"For I will forgive their wickedness
and remember their sins no more"

I can still remember things that have hurt me, but the pain is gone. It is over, it was in the past and I know it is over. I don't have to relive that pain over and over again - that is gone. Yes, the wounds are still there, but they are just scars that have helped to shape me into the person I am today.

I am reminded of King David. He saw a man's wife bathing and sent for her. Being the King, he could have anything he wanted. He committed adultery with her, plotted her husband's death and eventually married her. As he was convicted of his sin by the Prophet Nathan, he wrote the 51st Psalm. You might read it. I am particularly moved by verse 4.

"Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight"

Ask God to help you forgive. Ask God to help you to seek the forgiveness of those you have hurt. God knows you better than you know yourself and he knows that this kind of pain and hurt destroys people on both sides of this equation. 

Peace,
~Al

Below is a song made famous by Leonard Cohen. Listen to the words about David.



I am available to speak at churches and groups, I can be contacted at al.lachner@gmail.com