Thursday, 20 December 2012

Becoming A Whole Person

Andrew Corbett

For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
Matthew 9:21

Hurt people hurt people. We’ve all probably encountered that and perhaps we’ve even been the one doing the hurting. Being hurt hurts. But it can become a comfortable hurt. A hurt that we befriend. A hurt that makes us safe. A hurt that we can control. A hurt that gives us what we want. The process to becoming healed of this hurt can also hurt. And because it is an unfamiliar hurt, it creates anxiety. This causes the hurt person to blame-shift, to withdraw, and to become highly critical. Ironically, this makes helping hurt people really difficult. But it can be done.

Some people have only ever known hurt and pain. From the youngest age they were the victim. They felt that all they every really experienced was rejection, betrayal, and mocking from those they had a reasonable expectation of acceptance, loyalty and affirmation. For these people, wholeness has been allusive to the extent that as far as they know, they have never known it. The first step to healing for such hurt people is a clearer vision of what the map to wholeness looks like.

All hurt people travel with a map. From this map they derive the directions for navigating through their life. They come to certain “forks” in the road they are travelling on (which look like criticism or even a challenge, to anyone else). Their map marks these “forks in the roads” as attacks, or rejection, or pain. Their map suggests taking the high road. This road must be traversed by offence, anger, and slander

Whole people travel the same life journey but with a different map. They reach the same fork in the road but instead of their map marking these moments as attacks, rejection, pain, their map indicates growth, opportunity, and love. Their map suggests taking the low road. This road is traversed by humility, listening, and understanding. 

Many whole people were once hurt people. But they were blessed to have a glimpse of what wholeness looked like. When they saw it, it exposed their unforgiveness, malice, and withdrawal. It somehow revealed to them that each of those things were crippling them. This vision of wholeness encouraged them to use a different life-map. The next fork in the road was the hardest road-fork they had ever faced because they were so used to their fight or flight map that when they read their new map, its directions included: listening, blessing, teachableness, and even generosity! As a hurt person they had previously become defensive, spiteful and self-justifying. But their choice to be whole removed these responses from their map.

A whole person still feels pain - although they respond quite differently to a hurt person. A whole person still faces disappointment, disrespect, and disloyalty, yet they take the low road of blessing those who spitefully mistreat them. They hold their tongue - not because they really want to yell at the one standing in their way - but because they have chosen to listen first. Rather than become defensive, they become inquisitive. Although the criticism from another person stings, they treat it as a gift that might help them improve - rather than to let that sting fester into a serious hurt. At other times when someone expresses their displeasure with them they can reasonably assess whether this person’s opinion is what they use to define their identity or worth. In many cases, it will not be and in these instances they may find themselves quietly, but resolutely, disagreeing with their protagonist. And this introduces my final thought on achieving wholeness as a hurt person.

Whole people are neither dependent or independent people. Hurt people need other people. We all hurt from time to time and in those times we need the help of others. But some hurt people react by withdrawing from others and become independent. “I’ll never let anyone close to me again!” they silently vow to themselves. Of course, connecting two hurt people together often results in co-dependency. Hurt people in a co-dependent relationship feel that they both need the other person, and that the other person needs them. A whole person doesn’t allow someone else to become unreasonably dependent upon them. Even a parent knows that their infant child’s dependency upon them is reasonable for a season. A whole child will replicate their parent’s wholeness and grow to  become a reliable, dependable, interdependent adult. 

The Apostle Paul once lived as a hurt man. He then encountered Christ and became a whole man. He wrote to a people who were once hurt, the Colossians, and described to them the behaviour of hurt people.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 
Colossians 3:8-10
He then goes on to describe how whole people live-
¶ Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14

And that’s one of the clearest visions a hurt person can have for what wholeness looks like. The only truly whole Person is the only Person who can truly help a hurt person to become a whole. Sometimes, because a hurt person is so down and feeling so low, all they can do is to reach out and up to just touch the hem of His presence (Matt. 9:21). But this simple act of praying can be the beginning of a journey to wholeness - a journey that Christ does not leave you to walk alone.

Andrew Corbett

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