Hurt people hurt people. I know it’s a cliche’ statement but it is so true. A lot of times we encounter people who are rude, annoying, or just plain mean. It is easy to react by getting offended or returning their negative comment or action with one of our own. But if we stop and think about why they are acting the way they are before we respond, it can really diffuse the anger or negative emotion we feel. The majority of the time, the rude person’s attitude has a root of hurt or pain of some kind. Now I’m not suggesting that the rude person is justified in acting the way that they do, but when we respond to them knowing that they are coming from some type of difficulty/hurt, it is easier to respond with a heart of compassion.
Case in point. I had a doctor’s appointment/check up awhile back. Being completely candid here…I had gained 11 pounds since my last appointment and my cholesterol was higher. (I attribute the weight gain to the quarantine and having three kids at home full time one of whom has autism.) A nurse was observing/being trained during my appointment. I told the doctor that I knew I’d gained some weight. The nurse in training gasped (out loud) when she saw that I’d gained 11 pounds. I was shocked that she reacted out loud! (I’m not a snarky type of person and fortunately I usually don’t think of “come backs” until much after the fact.) Anyway it kinda bothered me, but mainly because the nurse in training obviously weighed more than me! And my cholesterol had never been that high before! Me being an introvert, I’m just sitting there with those thoughts running through my head, thinking how I needed to lose weight, but also how dare the overweight nurse try to take the speck out of my eye when she had a plank in her own! I never said anything out loud. So the doctor wanted me to lose some weight and try to get my cholesterol down and scheduled a follow up appointment.
So fast forward to my follow up appointment. I ate right, exercised, etc. and lost about 3 pounds and got my cholesterol levels down to the normal range. Interestingly enough the same nurse in training was there observing again. I wanted to say to her, see I lost some weight! But right before I said it, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that “hurt people hurt people”. So I looked over at her and said, “It’s really hard for me to lose weight.” She looked surprised that I talked to her and said very quietly, “It is for me too. I’ve gained 90 pounds these past couple of years.” She kinda looked embarrassed so we talked for a little while about weight loss and exercise and she made a few comments that let me know her self-esteem was probably not the greatest. On the way out of the room, I looked her in the eye and told her I enjoyed talking to her and hope she had a blessed day and wished her well. She said “thank you.” I could tell she meant it. I was so glad I didn’t just respond with a sassy comment like I’d felt like doing. Sometimes it is easier said than done to respond with a good attitude. For me, it was worth looking beneath the surface to the reason of the rudeness instead of just reacting to it. I pray that in the future, the Holy Spirit will remind me to do that and remember when someone is hurtful it may be a symptom of deeper hurt within them. I don’t want the focus to be my feelings, but the other person’s heart.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.