Stubbornly Stuck

Hurt happens. It always has, still does, and certainly will. Lingering pain comes from lots of sources, takes lots of shapes, and often never goes away. But if you are human and remotely self-aware, you know that already. So, how do we handle this in such a way that it doesn’t handle us? 

That’s the question I took on in last Sunday’s installment of “Give Up to Go Up.” Every day we choose to hold on to our hurt is a day that we have to live with the consequences of that decision. And so does everyone around you. Hurt people hurt. And intentionally or not, hurt people hurt people. They just do. Said more personally, we just do. Confessionally, I just do too. Here’s the silver bullet, the golden key, magic wand – any good metaphor will do:

What you do with your hurt is more important than the hurt itself. 

Start by admitting that we are wounded. No one is exempt from pain, nor should be. But denying its impact on our life only drives it underground to show back up in more subtle and destructive forms. It’s ok to say it hurts, no matter what our parents, coaches, and bosses told us.

For every hurt, there is a season of enduring. The great twentieth century sage and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said it well. What is to give light must endure burning. Some crosses just have to be borne until they are not. For some this is a season, for others a lifetime. The good news is that there is plenty of scripture that says God will not forsake us and will give us strength to match our day. And as Sam Elliott said in the last scene of The Big Lebowski, “I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that. ” 

There comes a time when we need to release our hurt to God. As the famous feeler and hugger Leo Buscalia said, “Let go. Why do you cling to pain? … Why hold on to the very thing that keeps you from hope and love?” Good question. But God knows we are given to do just that. If we don’t, we lock ourselves in our own prison, and before long you get used to it. Maybe even feel at home there. Here’s where we hum the recovery chorus of let go and let God. While that is easily said, don’t lose sight of the reality that it is a choice we have the power to make. To release or not release, that is the question. And in some form or other, we have to answer it.

Lastly, let your pain find a purpose. The heart of Christian theology is that God is so creative and so redemptive, he can bring something good out of the worst of things. Trust God to redeem the pain, reclaiming it as part of His plan to make all things whole and right. If hurt is inevitable, and it is, resolve not to waste it. Hurt’s highest vocation is when one is transformed by it and God’s presence in it. Some pain will leave you forever changed, and uniquely equipped to help someone else navigate the same treacherous waters.

Sunday, we will come back and talk about how not to be so stubbornly stuck in our suffering. Hurt folks long to heal up and experience forgiveness, both given and received. But we don’t know if we can and should or how. Join this fellow struggler along with a room full of others, in the quest to go up by giving up. And I’ll warn you, it is not easy. Only worth it. It really, really is.