A couple days ago my boy Christian slid hard on something, scraped his side leaving a tender, bruised, red raspberry. No bleeding, but the top layer of skin had definitely been rubbed off.
A few hours later, I forgot about his sore and hugged him, grabbing that painful spot. My attempt to show love ended up hurting.
How much worse if I had intended to hurt and purposely pressed on that most painful spot.
Sometimes I think I have many bruises–too many soft spots where people can hurt me. Those exposed wounds where the slightest touch sparks intense pain. The fact of having these soft spots itself is a tender area. I feel foolish, like a weak baby, like I need “thicker skin.”
“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic,” a voice from the past would say to me when I was a child, hurting over someone’s harsh words.
Yesterday someone punched me with repeated blows in one of the most tender spots of all–my parenting.
In a weak rage, this person said I don’t spend enough time with my kids. I put too much responsibility on them. I shouldn’t be away from them writing. Riding my bike takes energy away from them. I’m a terrible housekeeper. I refuse to clean. I use my heart condition as an excuse–I’m not really that tired. I don’t really need rest. I’m just lazy.
Oh, how the person pummeled my sensitive wounds. Under the surface of my presentable self–the one who knows Jesus gives grace and parenting is a journey of brokenness and my heart is to labor through this mommy road constantly striving to do my best and love my best and serve, serve, serve–beneath that person lies a curled-up, fearful mommy who doubts that I ever do anything right. Who fails and fears and struggles to stay above water.
The words crushed like stones against these bruises. Each blow hit a nerve of insecurity and guilt.
After weeping for a while as the words continued their beating even after the person had quieted, the bruises flared. If they had been healing, they again throbbed, pulsating in pain.
On top of this, that accusing voice from the past echoed forward.
Why are these words bothering you?
Who cares what others think.
Sticks and stones… words can never hurt me.
Only you can let someone hurt you.
This “advice” would be right in one way–this person was wrong. The words, assumptions, understanding were simply wrong. The person didn’t have the whole picture. I actually do have a heart condition that slows me down. I do have reasons for the choices I make with my kids. I fail a lot, but I do try to do my best. I know these things to be true. It doesn’t matter what they think.
But, I’m too bruised to not be hurt by relentless words. If you punch me in that area, I’m going to cry out in pain before I can analyze whether it’s rational for me to be hurt or not. It’s like when an adult tells a child, “Your sister barely hit you. It can’t hurt that much.” When something hurts, it hurts no matter that others think it shouldn’t.
Somehow in the midst of this pain, this crying, and trying to breathe, to be okay again… somehow, Jesus found me. Like he was saying, “You can’t think your way out of this. You only have one place to go–to me. Come. Come close.”
In that moment, I drew near to my savior, rested in the down beneath his wings, and his truth washed over me. In soft Scripture whisperings. “Fear not,” “I am with you,” “I am close to the brokenhearted.”
And I remembered that he too was bruised–physically yes–but also with painful words and betrayal. He doesn’t judge my bruises. He knows me. He’s my doctor, closely acquainted with my wounds. He remembers where those bruises came from, and he is at work healing them. A doctor doesn’t judge that a person is hurt.
My Jesus, heal me. Help me. Use me again, despite my broken, weak, failure-ridden existence.
Remember friends, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow!