Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Capacity to Hurt

Several years ago, when I was a freshman in college, my second week there I kissed a boy. In fact, I spent the night at his house and slept in his bed. All we did was kiss, and I told him straight up that I wouldn't sleep with him. He never called me again.

Last night, as I sat at Barley's with two friends, one old and one new, I saw that guy--the one who didn't call--and to my surprise, it still stung. Now, I hadn't thought of him for YEARS (yes, its been awhile since I was a freshman), and I remembered that it hurt when he didn't call.

Earlier this year I started dating a great guy, and I sort of dropped out of another friend's life, something I swore wouldn't happen but sure as salt did. This friend confronted me one night at church, with love and courage, and asked me what happened...where I'd been. He told me he was hurt and angry that I'd disappeared. I had hurt someone...not the first person or the last person, but perhaps one of the most precious. I realized so fully at that moment that I had the power to hurt and bring destruction in someone's life. How awful, how true, how unavoidable.

I hate it that I have and will hurt people. I hate it because I know what it feels like to hurt. I know what it feels like to be betrayed and ignored and forgotten and invisible. How could I do that to someone? But I have. How can I put a person through that terribleness that I've known as well? But I do...and I'm sorry.

The ugly selfishness that wields its way from my heart into someone else's reality is awful and wretched. But praise God that He is gracious to His children. With Him there is forgiveness--forgiveness available for the one doing damage, and the ability to forgive for the one who is damaged. My friend, the one that I hurt earlier this year, forgave me and accepted me back. What an amazing thing. He wasn't bitter or angry or disappointed after we spoke. He was himself, and he welcomed me to be myself as well. In a picture of grace, he forgot about my sin.

"With You there is forgiveness, therefore You are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning--more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130

This potential to hurt someone and be hurt by someone is reality--there is no escaping it. The risk increases with each relationship forged. And it doesn't seem right, does it? It doesn't seem right that the more love in your life the more hurt as well. What in the world is that about, and how we try to avoid it!?!? How we try to make things right and keep things right and WANT things right. We WANT love without hurt perhaps because that it what we were created for, and we unfortunately find ourselves in a world that doesn't line up with our desires.

Maybe that is why the Psalmist was waiting for the Lord so fervently--because he felt the dichotomy between his desire and his reality. He wanted things to be made right more than the city watchmen wanted the morning to come...and they wanted morning desperately. It meant they could go home, that they could rest and eat and see their families and lay down the armor and weapons that burdened their night. They could let down their guard and be at peace for just a little while until the sun set and they took up their positions at the city gates and towers once again. And at 5am, after hours of watching and worrying and wondering, their desire for morning was overwhelming. "I wait for the Lord...more than watchmen wait for the morning." O that things would be made right--no more hurt and no more damage. What a day that will be...