I was tired.
My husband was travelling overseas.
Both my young boys were adjusting to the start of the school year.
I had an incredible amount of stress I was dealing with.
I was carrying hurt.
In the midst of this I was sitting in the front row of our local Civic Hall. About to get on stage to speak to a few hundred people, all I could feel was the swirling thoughts of all I was dealing with.
I did speak that night and it went ok. It wasn’t a disaster… in the eyes of most people. But, 9 months later I was still dealing with my sense of failure.
Because I was a people pleaser and was insecure? No. (Well, yes, but not the main issue that night.)
Because people threw rotten fruit at me and booed me off stage? No… thankfully!
Because people criticised what I had to say? A full 8 people came and felt to point out that I wasn’t my normal self when speaking. Although hard to hear, it wasn’t the main thing.
The main thing was this: I shared out of my hurt instead of my healing.
This was a deep lesson that I learned that whole year: there are different rules for hurt people and healed people.
Eugene Peterson powerfully said, “We are travelling in the light toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save. It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives. It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk that shape our days.”
The journey of a whole person is moving from being shaped by our pain and wounding to being shaped by our healing and healer.
In this journey I must be very careful to know where I am along the path so as not to cause more wounding and hurt to myself and those around me.
Hurt and Healed people do three things differently because of where they stand.
Whom We Trust:
When we are actively working through our pain we need to be very careful that we walk with very trustworthy people. Our pain is precious, if we give it to people that do not treat it as such… we will only experience more pain. The slightest wrong response can prick us but it will feel like a mortal wound.
When we have experienced healing we are not in nearly as much danger. I have so much pain in my past, the kind that makes people respond with “scary eyes” (as I call them). You know the kind; their eyes get very wide, they look both shocked and horrified, you can see them trying to plan an escape route out of the conversation.
I am in a place of healing with so much of my past. Sometimes I entrust my story to someone who can’t handle it. They make a comment that is so insensitive that it defies reality. Because I have moved into healing it does not devastate me nor make me feel deeply wounded. I have grace for people who turn out to be untrustworthy (or just too immature to know what to say).
When We Share:
Timing makes a difference in our journey of being shaped by our wound to being shaped by our healer. I shouldn’t have gotten on stage that night. I shouldn’t have shared publicly about things which I myself hadn’t fully dealt with.
After that night a wise women came to me and said, “How are you doing? You looked so vulnerable that night. My heart went out to you.” She discerned that I was in a season of my life where I should not have gotten on stage and shared such vulnerable things.
In the Church it can be very common to encourage people to share publicly. But, if you haven’t experienced Christ as your healer, a public “testimony” could end up feeling more like a public shaming, violation or humiliation. It has nothing to do with how the group responded and more to do with the internal pain being worked through.
Even in a smaller group, I find I need to be careful to discern if the timing is right. Perhaps a group of friends is gathering to just have some laughs and fun. If you open up about something painful and they simply move on to conversing about the latest movie they saw… you will be left feeling vulnerable, exposed and unvalued.
How We Help:
Healed people can help. Wounded people can just further wound. It is not about intention as much as reality of our situations.
When we are healed it is because we have encountered our Healer. This is what we have to pass on to others, a revelation of Jesus.
When we are moving from being shaped by pain to being shaped by our Healer we should be extremely cautious about “trying to help others with my own experience”. One wounded person helping another wounded person so often does more damage.
From my experience, when someone is primarily defined by their healing and healer… they have a wise caution about jumping in to help other wounded people. They know that only Jesus initiates, shapes and enpowers this journey. My presence doesn’t necessarily help the process.
That night as I stood on stage I broke all three principals. I trusted a crowd of people I didn’t know (wrong people), shared my pain publicly and in a hard season (wrong timing) and tried to help them when I myself had not fully received help.
I found a wise friend that helped my identify all three. I cried quite a bit about the situation. I learned something that will only safeguard me in the future.
What about you?
In your life circumstances are you more shaped by your pain and wounding or your healing and healer?
How does this shape these three areas of your life?