One of the times I have to stop myself revolves around this recurrent line of thinking: “People hurt me. They are always going to hurt me. I need to separate myself from people. All people.” I tell myself: I’m a fairly introverted and independent personality, so I can handle being alone. It’s easier that way. I don’t “need” people. If I don’t allow myself to attach to people (or they to me), then I can’t be hurt.
This line of thought is not just a “feeling.” Sometimes we blame our “feelings” as the culprits that lead us astray, but our so-called powers of reason can get us in just as much trouble. When I am in the mode of “people hurt me, must detach from people,” it’s more than a feeling. It’s a detailed thought process. I can produce plenty of evidence as to why my conclusion is justified.
So, I feel it. I think it. I believe it. Every fiber of my being tells me to detach. To pull away. To withdraw. And quickly. In my mind, it looks like a scene from a movie when a starship or military vessel is on the verge of destruction. There are sirens blaring and a commanding officer yelling, “Abort! Abort!”
The sirens signal damage that requires attention, for sure. However, somehow, somewhere inside me I know that command to “abandon ship” is not a helpful response. Maybe it’s because I know I hurt others, too. Maybe it’s because I know people don’t only hurt me, they also help me heal, help me grow, and help me hope (case in point: Turning Points: It’s Time That You’ve Won). Or maybe in those moments there’s a grace outside of me holding me to what is true when I am incapable of seeing it–a grace from someone who has been hurt more deeply and broadly than I could imagine, but chooses to love and engage anyway.
Whatever form these intense moments take for you–when somehow you know that what every fiber of your being is telling you is mistaken–I hope people around you are ever providing you evidence of why you are wrong. I hope you are open to seeing that evidence. And I pray that when neither happens, grace will hold you to truth in spite of yourself.