"Hurt people, hurt people." Have you ever heard this saying? We all can recall a time when we have been on the receiving end of a hurting person, and truth be told, there are probably a few occasions where we have been the person doing the hurting. When we don't deal with our hurt and pain, we are more likely to lash out at another because of it.
This week I heard a grief counselor say something that rang really true - to heal it we must feel it. This is so contrary to the way much of our culture lives. Our culture works very hard to avoid feeling pain. In extreme cases, some turn to illegal drugs and abusing alcohol, but there are other "more respectable" ways that we use to help us avoid feeling our pain. This can include misuse of prescription drugs, shopping, food, sex, social media/tech, entertainment to name just a few. These are not necessarily wrong in and of themselves; rather it is how we are using them that can be unhealthy.
So if hurt people, hurt people, could we agree that loved people, love people? If this is true, and I believe it to be so, in what ways is there an inherent safety in love that provides a place from which to confront and feel our deepest pain - without the fear that we will be totally consumed by that pain. The security of love acts as an anchor or a place of grounding. Or using another image, safe in the embrace of Jesus we can confront our deepest pain. Trusting in the embrace of the God-who-loves, we can learn to rest in this love. The author of Romans confirms this when he writes:
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:38-39 The Message
We can experience this love in a variety of ways, and if you are like me, you'll need to practice being loved and resting in that love. Prayer, meditation, meditating on scripture, worship, soaking, being creative, gardening, or a walk in nature are examples that can provide a unique context for experiencing divine love.
Love and healing can also be experienced through a faithful, forgiving friend and a healthy community.
Friends and community can be a tremendous source of support and encouragement. The prayer and the sharing of experiences with others can be an affirmation that we are not alone, that others have experienced the similar things, and that healing is possible. These faithful, forgiving friends and the love of a healthy community are a manifestation, or if you prefer, an incarnation of the God-who-loves. A concrete way that we can experience love in a tangible way.
As wonderful as friends and community can be, the healing journey takes time. Sometimes we can benefit from a trained therapist to help us untangle the emotions and help us with tools for the journey. I would suggest that the right therapist can also be a wonderful gift of love from God.
Authentic love is the key.
Perfect, unconditional love provides the context and the mean for our healing and renewal - and often times the love of God comes through caring compassionate people.
There is nothing more healing and restorative than love. The free unearned gift of God is LOVE. God not only loves but is also the very source of love, and we can learn to love as the author of 1 John 4:19 wrote We love because He first loved us. As we learn to rest in the arms of perfect love, we are safe to feel and to heal.