A Road To Converge: Letting Go of the Pain You’re Passing On

 

I know a pastor who was dating a girl, and the girl eventually left him for another pastor in the same church.  They all had to work together for a while.  I can’t imagine how hard this must have been.

Years later this pastor planted a new church, but he took all his hurts with him.  He hardly opened up to anyone; viciously arm-wrestled for authority; shut off anyone he didn’t trust; boiled hate at other pastors; and viewed his ministry as a project he had to maintain under a strict disciplinary cage.  Some have said this was his personality — but I knew him before the girl left him.  He wasn’t always like this.  He used to be so full of life and joy and laughter.  Now he’s passive-aggressive, distant, moody, cold.

I’m not friends with him anymore, either.  I no longer meet his invisible standard.  There was a time when I was really mad at him for this: but the more I think about it, the more I understand.  If the same thing happened to me that did to him, I might have carried over all that baggage too.

But the thing is: We all go through crap.  We can let it hold us down, or not.  The trauma and trials that we go through are not the worst things that can happen to us.  The worst is when we let it give us permission to define us by a toxic lie — that somehow the world owes you, that you never have to trust again, that you can retaliate first, that you’re entitled to bitterness and contempt.  The worst is when you rehearse your own sad story to the point where even the future is to blame, and every new face must pass an impossible test designed to fail. It is a harsh whisper in your heart that says, “Never again.  I’ll show them.”

All this self-pity and victimization is understandable.  I’m on your side about that.  But this constant sour whisper will slowly destroy you.  It will destroy everything you touch.  I know this: because I lose a great friend by it.  I have tried to tell him this: but he refuses to listen, and it hurts my heart to see him stomp his way through life with closed fists.  It hurts me to see him interpret all disagreement as opposition or to take the most innocuous things so personally.

I know why you feel this way: But you cannot define your life by the losses you have incurred.  You may have been embarrassed, shamed, stabbed in the back, betrayed, and cheated — no one’s saying this isn’t wrong — but it’s even more reason to find healing and peace, or else you will not pass on wisdom, but pain.

I know it hurts.  I pray you find healing, my friend.  I still love you dearly, and I would still gladly die for you in a second, no matter how much you despise me for the reasons you’ve rehearsed.  Life has not gone the way you wanted: but there is still life left to serve God and to serve your fellow comrades in our journey together.  Perhaps our roads will converge one day again.

— J

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11 thoughts on “A Road To Converge: Letting Go of the Pain You’re Passing On

  1. Having been in this same place as you I concur with a broken heart. When will Christians learn their forgiveness frees themselves and is worth the agony to achieve? More than many I could be bitter, but God gave me the wit (and humour) to look in a mirror and chose not to be like the ones who hurt me, because someone hurt them, who hurt them, who hurt them…
    The vicious cycle stops with me, thanks to Jesus!
    Peace

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    1. “The vicious cycle stops with me” is right. Just as Jesus absorbed our pain through forgiveness, we do the same for others.
      I know I’m not above what I wrote here though. I’m probably just as blind to passing on pan as I’ve seen in others. We can only throw ourselves to the mercy of God and ask for rebuke when this happens. But it starts with that icky word “honesty.”

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  2. My father was like that for many years. His first wife, my birth mother, abused him and me and my brother, slept around, tried to ruin our relationships with other people, and lots of other not so nice things. (She had her own world of internal pain.) They eventually divorced, and a few years later she killed herself.

    My dad has carried forward his pain and anger for about 21 years, projecting it onto his current marriage and his friendships. He has wallowed in the mire of the negative thoughts and bitter victimization, all the while ignoring (or directing his anger and pain at) the amazing woman who has stood by his side and loved all of us through it all. She has been mother to us for more than half of our lives. She has loved us and fought for us no matter what.

    My dad has gotten better over the past couple of years. He doesn’t talk as much about the things his first wife did, and relations at home seem much happier. Maybe he’s realizing that the present and future are more important, especially now that he has grandbabies and great-grandbabies to focus on, two generations who never knew that chapter. All of that past stuff is done and gone. Let it go and be in the present for those who are here now. I pray he continues to find peace.

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    1. Thanks so much for your honesty and I’m sorry for all that happened. I’ll pray too.
      My family can’t compare to yours at all but has had a similar train of passing on their hurts. At times I believe some of us “learn in reverse” — learning what not to do by the hurtful example of others. It’s a tough way to learn but sometimes the only way.

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  3. While I didn’t exactly have a major hurt, I just ‘feel’ more and ‘think’ more and there are a lot of pains I can easily absorb, and it is easy to feel bitter and pass on that pain.. this is one reason why sometimes I don’t want to write or create comics, because instead of sharing wisdom all it might have is the pain I wanted to let out, and the negativity no one really wants.

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  4. “The trauma and trials that we go through are NOT the worst things that can happen to us. The worst is when we let it give us permission to define us by a toxic lie — that somehow the world owes you, that you never have to trust again, that you can retaliate first, that you’re entitled to bitterness and contempt.”

    WOW!!! I can totally relate to this and how it has adversly affected my life in the past. Sadly, we don’t usually recognize this but in hindsight and by then it’s sometimes too late. We have destroyed relationships and wonder why it all happened. Luckily, I have had loved ones stick by me long after they should have and their love softened my heart to the point where I could see how my attitude was affecting others.

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    1. I’ve been blessed to have the same experience, where others were patient to roll with me even when I was pushing them away. I regret the dozens of people that I must’ve hurt out of a reaction that didn’t even have to do with them. At the same time, I rejoice in those who stayed and hung with me to the other side.

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  5. I can relate to that pastor. Sometimes I feel Jesus’ love and feel like all the bitterness I’ve had has been eroded away. Other times, I try to re-engage some of the people I was hurt by, only to see that they are pursuing the same means of hurt again which had caused me to retreat.

    As I look back over the past year and a half, I do think Jesus has helped me to overcome much of it. I’m able to more easily and quickly forgive and continue to engage with others. Some days though, I get plunged back into an aggressive state, not so much because I was hurt again, but because I see someone else getting hurt.

    Overall I feel I’m learning and growing, but it can be brutal at times. That brutality can create quite a beautiful relationship with Jesus though. Now I just need to better learn how to engage others with that same love :).

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    1. I feel you, John. I think for a long time, I defaulted to anger as my normal filter for people. I was mad about “Why couldn’t he just / Who is he to / How dare they” and so on. I was unfair and toxic, and didn’t recognize I was passing on my previous pain to get even with life. It’s hard to overcome, but I think self-awareness is half the battle. I’m praying for both you and for me. 🙂

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