We’ve all been hurt in the past by someone’s words or actions. Sometimes those wounds are only superficial and they heal quickly, other times, those wounds penetrate our souls and we carry them with us for many years. It is often very painful to deal with those issues, but the damage done if we ignore those issues is even greater. That pain festers under the surface like a sore that never quite heals correctly. Here is one such story of not dealing with the pain of a hurtful past. It is a true story. I know it is true because it is my story (Dave).
My high school years were filled with much pain and hurt. We moved to into the town where I attended high school in the summer before my freshman year, the last of four moves. I have a speech impediment and during those years my speech was in my eyes what defined me. I was often on the receiving end of hurtful comments about my speech and despite all my efforts to ignore that pain, I carried a lot of pain and hurt away from those years. After high school graduation I distanced myself from my classmates. I would bump into them from time to time, but the pain of those high school years was too great for me to deal with. So I ignored it, and it festered, for 35 years.
Now fast forward to the year 2011. Robyn and I were in the process of getting ready to move from Pennsylvania to North Carolina to plant a church. It was a slow process and in the midst of that waiting, God was at work, helping me clean my closets. That summer we attended a wedding and to my surprise, sitting at our table at the reception was one of my high school classmates. She mentioned that we were having our 35th high school reunion in a few months. I said under my breath, “Good for you, but don’t expect to see me there.” When we got home that evening, Robyn said to me, “You need to go.” No way. A few weeks later I got an invitation to attend the reunion and I put it on my desk. (Invitations to all previous reunions went straight into the trash can.) Several days after receiving my invitation I was driving to work and began to cry as I thought about high school and the junk I was carrying with me. At that moment I knew I needed to go to the reunion.
There was one particular classmate whom I felt was the meanest of the mean. In fact, he was a football teammate and when I struggled with my speech while calling plays in the defensive huddle he would mock me even then, in the huddle of all places! Over the years, in my pain and hurt this classmate’s face and words always seemed to appear. It never ceases to amaze me as to the lengths God goes to restore us. So on the night of the reunion I nervously walked into the event and as fate would have it, the very first person I saw was this particular classmate. We said a few pleasantries and I quickly moved on. What happened next changed my life. This classmate came back to talk with me and said this, “Dave, I have waited close to 35 years to tell you how badly I feel about the way I acted toward you in high school.” We shared a few more words and went on our way, me with tears streaming down my cheeks. It was at that very moment that my healing and forgiveness began. And until that moment, I never once thought that he carried any pain from our high school encounters.
We hope what you get out of this story is the importance of dealing with past hurts. So today, no matter how painful it might be, we encourage you to begin to deal with the “junk” in your life that is lurking under the surface. There is tremendous freedom that comes through forgiveness, honest reflection, and dealing with your “stuff.”
Jesus came to bring you freedom, not just from eternal separation from God, but also freedom from the bondages that keep you locked up. Right now, ask God to give you the courage and strength to work through those difficult issues that are festering under your skin.