I learned a long time ago (as most adults do), that life inevitably hurts us from time to time. Even though we know this will happen, it always is a tough and lousy situation when it happens. Even though we know we will make it through, the “making it through” is not a fun experience. I know the old saying assures us that “time heals,” but it often takes a lot of time!
Recently, there have been a number of people I know and hold dear that have been hurt. Unfortunately the hurting was not of their own making. This can make the hurt even more biting. It is one thing to hurt ourselves; it is another to have the hurt inflicted upon us. Finally, it perhaps does not matter how the hurt happens, but in the beginning it is tougher when the hurt is inflicted upon us.
Hurts come in various forms. Probably the initial and the basic hurt is the physical. I remember very well going to the doctor’s office when I was quite young and getting that shot. I am sure I was given shots before I was old enough to know about it. But that early memory of the nurse grabbing that syringe and coming at my arm still makes me cringe. Of course, I have had many shots since that time, but it is never fun!
Those kinds of physical hurts often pass fairly quickly. A minute or two after the shot, the pain is gone and life goes on. Certainly, there are other serious physical pains that can go on for days or even quite a bit longer. Aging often makes us vulnerable to those aches and pains that may become chronic. We begin to accept that some physical hurting may be a “fact of life,” as some folks put it.
There are other levels of hurts. No doubt all of us have experienced emotional hurts. Emotional hurts are more complex than the physical pain. Physical pain usually hurts in one place, i.e. we have a stomachache. Emotional hurts are non-specific, but just as real. People don’t talk about having a “broken heart” for no good reason. Doubtlessly, most of us can tell you what a broken heart feels like. Our literal, physical heart may be beating just fine, but our metaphorical heart is broken.
Very often the emotional hurts that come our way are done unto us. For example, we don’t generally break our own hearts. Someone else breaks our heart. Normally this means we have a vested interest in someone and that someone divests his or her interests in us! That divestment breaks our hearts.
Hurts are always tough when someone or something does it to us. And the hurt seems compounded when we think it is unfair. “It’s just not right that I was hurt that way,” is a lament that I have heard recently. It is not the first time in life I have seen this kind of hurting, but that makes no difference in the moment. Hurt is hurt. It does not need to be unique. It does not matter that it happened before or if it never happened before. When hurt happens, hurt happens.
Emotional hurts are more difficult to deal with, it seems to me. You cannot take an aspirin and feel better. Healing emotional hurts takes time and patience. That is never good news in a culture that deals with time in warp speed. So how does the healing happen?
That has been a question I have posed to myself many times. My basic assumption is that healing does happen. When I am with others, I trust that the healing process happens. I am clear I am not a healer, although there are times it might appear that way, as it probably has been true for each of you. I am happy to become involved in the healing process because I trust that healing happens. For me this basic assumption is built into the Divine fabric of our universe. In this sense when healing happens, it appears “normal.”
There are a number of things we can do as “healers” participating in the healing process. We can be present to those who hurt. Our presence often is a soothing balm. We can be a sign of peace within the cauldron of anger the hurt one is experiencing. We can listen to the hurts. Communication is one of the time-honored healing venues. We can be active listeners. This is a specific form of presence to the hurting one. Listening does not remove the hurt. But it does become a salve to apply to the wound.
Another thing we can do is be patient. The healing process seldom happens on our timeline. Just as we usually are not in charge of the hurting process, we certainly are not in control of the healing schedule! It is likely true that the healing process will take longer if the person thinks the hurting is unfair. In effect, this is a double hurt: the hurt itself, and the “unfairness of it all” hurt. Healing a double hurt takes longer and even more patience.
Healing hurts is a wonderful ministry for all of us. If we are willing to be vehicles of the Spirit, we can be used in gracious and graceful ways to heal the hurts of those around us. And the good news is, when I am hurt, there should be many of you out there who are ready and able to join in the healing process. Thank God!