When You Unintentionally Hurt Others

I experienced a really difficult situation tonight. You know that saying “hurt people hurt people” . . . ? Yeah, I lived that tonight. And the knowledge that I hurt someone else made me hurt really, really badly. It also made me think about the people who have hurt me in the past, mostly unintentionally, and how I pushed them away and clung to my pain.

To be honest, this past week has been a terrible week. I experienced some personal pain that resulted in the worst panic attack I’ve had in a long time. Other friends also had difficult weeks, seemingly all around the same timeframes. Our nation also experienced severe tragedy. Everyone is hurting.

When I hurt, it doesn’t take much to trigger me into deep pain. I’ve tried to heal the wounds, but they are too big for me. I’ve called out to God, and honestly, it doesn’t seem like He has done much about it. That complicates faith quite a bit. It certainly makes faith a choice when you aren’t feeling it.

Earlier this week, I saw something that ripped open the wound of rejection in my heart. After that, it seemed like I was facing rejection everywhere.

Someone stole my Open House signs on my first day hosting an open house as a Realtor. That small thing shouldn’t have made me feel as rejected and violated as it did, but it did.

Then, I tried to purchase an item from a person I know on Facebook but was ignored. It really wasn’t the ignoring that got me. It was that I had tried to purchase items from this person before, and also been ignored. And it wasn’t just her, but I experienced severe rejection from multiple people at the church she attends (that I also attended for a couple of years until I finally left), after going through some of the worst things in my life (i.e. when my brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison, I was stood up by the prayer “leader” and other leaders I set up appointments to try to meet with).

This girl sort of embodied all I thought was good in that church. The rejection I perceived to get from her via Facebook poured salt into the old wounds from the people I had once admired at that church and then been extremely burned and rejected by.

Being ignored on Facebook shouldn’t have bothered me so much, but it did. I was sick of being rejected and ignored, especially by people at THAT church. I had already unfriended most of the people who triggered my pain, but I didn’t want to unfriend her because I thought she was different from them.

So I contacted her instead. I told her I was frustrated about being ignored. Ironically, our last message from several years ago was me asking her if I had offended her, and if that was that why she was ignoring my request to place an order from her.

Back then, she responded that she was busy and missed the message and how sorry she was. Still, she never followed through with the order. I didn’t pursue it.

This time, she responded in a similar way. She said she was busy and that she’s sorry I felt that way, but that she missed the message.

I was talking to someone else at the time and didn’t read her full message. I responded with a curt explanation that I understood she was busy, but that this was the third time I had tried to order from her and been ignored, and that I wouldn’t be trying to order from her again in the future.

She responded that she understood and that someone else had wanted that item before I did, but that she understood.

I responded again that I probably shouldn’t have said anything, but that I respected her and her work, and that I felt if she continued to treat customers the way she had treated me that people were going to start going away from her. I told her that I hoped her the best in her endeavors.

Then I read the rest of her email response. And my heart dropped.

She said her reason for not responding and being busy was that her mother was diagnosed with cancer last week. Last week. That terrible week. That same day I had had the horrible panic attack that sent me into depression for the weekend.

And my response to her vulnerability was that I understood things get busy, but this was the third time I had been ignored and I wasn’t going to try again.

Wow. What a coldhearted, jerky thing to say to someone who just told you their mother was diagnosed with cancer. I felt like the most terrible person in the world, and I am sure she thought I was. I didn’t mean to be, but that is what it appeared I was.

I wrote back, telling her I had just fully read her message, and that I was sorry I hurt her and added to her stress. She had already un-friended me from Facebook.

To be honest, if I were her, I would have totally blasted me. I would have definitely told me off and been very hateful about it.

But she responded with “I understand . . .” and putting up the seemingly well-deserved boundary of unfriending–just like I had with all those “hateful” people from that church she represented who hurt me so much.

In the middle of complaining that she wasn’t listening to me, I failed to listen to her. I was so caught up in my hurt and my being tired of being rejected and ignored over and over and over again that I put up a boundary that said NO MORE. I was so selfishly caught up in my hurt, I hurt her.

I hate hurting others. I never mean to, but when it happens I have a very real knowledge that I cannot I stop the hurt I’ve caused. I know it because I’ve been hurt and no matter how much the other person is sorry (or maybe didn’t even mean to hurt me) it doesn’t stop the pain.

I felt so guilty for what I had done, I immediately wrote the girl a letter and bought her something simple. The package is on the table and ready to be mailed.

But something else happened in the middle of all of this processing. My pain from the past became too much again and I started spewing out hatred all over my apartment. I resentfully looked at the package and thought of all the people who had hurt me and how they had never done anything to try to fix it. I started cursing the people who had hurt me from that girl’s church, expressing my feelings of hate for them.

I started crying and asking God why He left me here in this pain. I asked God if anyone even cared in the whole world.

Immediately, I heard HIM silently answer, “I will not leave you comfortless . . .” 

Right there in the middle of the worst of my brokenness, in the middle of love that had grown very cold, was a still small whisper. God wasn’t angry at my anger, my resentment, or my ocean of hurt. He was just there.

To be honest, it took me a while to calm down, but then I knew I had to write about this somewhere because writing is really the only thing that makes anything make sense to me.

This whole world is full of pain, hurt, misunderstanding, rejection, and all sorts of misjudgments and broken relationships. People are facing far worse realities than I have ever had. They will never have the answer to their question, “Why me?”

Tonight, my blunder and self-defense cost me the acquaintance of a person I admire. We were never close friends, though I wished I could have been friends with her and her friends. I was never accepted into their group, no matter how much I tried. I’m sure it’s for the best that she and I are no longer connected on social media, but it is sad it has to be that way.

Who knows what kind of hurts she and her friends and her church experienced that caused them to be so rejecting of others in the first place. Their hurts turned into my hurts, which turned into more hurt for them and me.

Is it possible that somehow this entire situation can be turned around for the good? Not just this situation, but also the situation I had last week that left me reeling from the heartbreak and pain of a previous great loss?

I honestly can’t see it at the moment. How can any separation between people be a good thing? How can any brokenness be a good thing?

I looked up the words that came to me in the midst of my hateful rage. “I will not leave you comfortless . . .”  It came from a passage in John, chapter 14, verses 18-23.

I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall.” John 14:18-23

Yes, the world is broken and so am I. But Jesus is coming back to redeem His people from all of this hurt and brokenness. As the love in the world grows cold, sometimes it feels as if we sense God’s presence less and less. It shakes us to the core. The disconnection between Believers makes it worse. We hold onto hurt, pain, and unforgiveness and we let go of people.

Somehow I don’t think it was meant to be that way. If only we would love each other enough to not cut each other off to protect ourselves. Maybe we would see that we never meant to hurt each other in the first place.

I don’t understand why the hurts I’ve experienced happened. But I do know I do not want to hold onto them. I don’t want to go through life in pain. I don’t want to reject people because they reject me. I don’t want to be filled with hurt, bitterness, or resentment.

God, have mercy on my heart. Please heal me. I can’t fix these things myself. I can’t fix myself. I am at Your mercy.

I will send the package and the card to the girl. I will not try to be her friend or purchase items from her. I won’t try to comfort her because of her mother’s situation; that is for her real friends to do. But I will remember her. I will remember that she didn’t respond to me with hatred, perhaps indifference, but not hatred. She simply put up a boundary to protect herself. And I totally understand that, because I do it too.


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

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Dreams

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams . . .

Acts 2:17 ESV

The Bible mentions dreams and visions as a mode of communication between God and man multiple times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

I don’t know about you, but I can say that most of the dreams I have had in my life have not had much spiritual significance. But there have been a few I felt were from the LORD. In fact, some of the most significant times in my life that I sensed God leading me, or warning me, have come through dreams.

I recently heard someone say that dreams are the way our mind tries to figure out our lives. As well, there is quite a bit of research on the rapid eye movement that occurs during sleep and how it is beneficial in therapy such as EMDR to ease PTSD. There is certainly something special about dreams, especially when they stick with us long after we have woken up.

Throughout my life, I have had a few different series of dreams that became a progression of sorts. The dreams come out of nowhere and carry similar themes. This week, I had another progressive dream, and I’m thankful to say it shows that I have progressed in my life. Before I share it with you, let me share the previous dreams I had that belong to this same series of dreams.

I had the first dream two or three times. In the dream, I was a college graduate, but I was stuck in high school! I would talk to the administration, trying to convince them I didn’t belong in high school and that I had already graduated. I would suggest that I take the GED and test out, but each time they would tell me I had to stay in high school for two more years, and that I had to sit through the classes.

Those dreams were very frustrating to say the least, and mirrored what I felt in my life–stuck. The accomplishments I had made in my education and experience didn’t seem to matter to anyone at work. I couldn’t seem to “graduate” to the next phase of my life no matter how much I knew I was beyond where I was stuck.

This week I had a new dream in the progression of this series of school-dreams. In my dream, I was in college! Yea, no more high school! At least I moved on from there. In the dream, I forgot I had registered for a history class. I made it through the semester when I realized I hadn’t gone to history class for weeks!

I was determined I would get to the class, but it started in 10 minutes, and I was waiting on my parents to give me a ride to class. I kept telling them I needed to go, or I would be late. Finally, I climbed in the backseat of their vehicle and we were on our way.

It was a silly dream, and one that doesn’t make sense at all on the surface. I graduated college years ago, and have no desire to formally further my education. And riding with my parents? I haven’t depended on them for a ride since I’ve had my driver’s license.

Despite the silliness of the dream, it stuck with me. I couldn’t shake it when I woke up. What was it about this dream that I needed to remember? In a moment, a flash of meaning entered my mind. In the dream, if I didn’t get my life straightened out, I was going to have to repeat history–something I desperately did not want to do!

I’ve been facing some pretty large life lessons over the past two years. They haven’t been easy, and I desperately want to move forward beyond them. With this simple dream, I felt the Lord was getting my attention. I can’t blame anyone else for my problems–not teachers or my parents or just being forgetful. I have to take responsibility and learn the lesson, or history will repeat itself.

Have you had any significant dreams lately? Is God trying to speak a word into your life through the dreams you have? Please share. I would love to know how God is speaking into your life.


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

A Lovely Day

valentines-day-wallpaper
YOU ARE LOVED

It’s that time of year again. The stores are sprinkled with red helium balloons, chocolate candy, and the smell of fresh flowers. I almost bought myself some flowers today, until I noticed they had quadrupled the price for Valentine’s Day . . .

When I realized my blog for the week was due on Valentine’s Day, I thought about writing about God’s love for us. But that kind of felt like avoiding the reality of what many people in my age and stage of life (the mid-20s through 30s and single) are experiencing right now.

To be honest, I’ve felt a little sad over the past week. I think it has more to do with the weather than Valentine’s Day, but maybe the idea of what life is “supposed to be like” has affected my non-conscious self.

I remember several years ago, I was purposeful to make sure I spent Valentine’s Day doing nice things for other people. I didn’t want to be the kind of girl that just moped around all week, wishing for some kind of fanciful romance. I wanted to be an active part of making the day special for someone else. I honestly forgot about that initiative until now as I am writing. I somehow let my purposefulness slip away over the past few years, but it’s not too late for me to pick it back up this week.

The truth is, I’m not the only one who feels a little sad this week. Many people all around me are going to be hurting on Valentine’s Day. People will feel lonely, sad, rejected, unsettled, anxious, fearful, etc. I’ll be interacting with people who have been through break-ups, divorce, death, and all other sorts of transitions and losses that can make the day more difficult to face alone. Some may even be in the middle of a relationship full of turmoil, strife, and confusion, wishing they didn’t have to deal with that kind of hurtful, living and present grief.

If I could send a message out to anyone who is hurting on Valentine’s Day, it would be that you are not alone. There are many people in your same situation. I challenge you to look around and listen to other’s stories. Realize how much we have in common. Connect to someone.

The world is an unsure place. Life gives us more than we can handle at times. We need each other now more than ever before. Reach out to help someone else. Don’t wait for someone to reach out to you. Give compassion and care to someone else, and you will find your heart overflowing with love.

You are loved. God loves you, and there are people in your life who love you. Acknowledge and accept that love.

Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the solitary in families . . .”

I am so thankful God has placed me in a great group of friends like I’ve never had before. I have somewhere to go on Friday nights to hang out with friends, people to eat with on Sunday afternoon, and all sorts of meaningful and fun events to participate in throughout the week.

If you are in the San Antonio area, in your 20s or 30s, and looking for a group to join, check out the CBC Young Professionals. We meet on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. in Room C-136 at Community Bible Church located at 2477 North Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, TX 78232. We would love to meet you and make you a part of our community.

“Celebrating life change in Jesus’ Name.” -CBC


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

She wrote this piece to share with the San Antonio CBC Young Professionals class, of which she is a part. It is also featured on her personal blog, http://www.RachaelKathleenHartman.com

OK in the middle of brOKen

IM-OKI’m currently attending a class at church called Hiding From Love. Tonight we talked about the splits in our lives–the areas where we are broken–and how that brokenness keeps us from loving God and others.

 

We started to share the ways we try to hide our brokenness–putting up facades, rejecting others, turning to addictions or pornography, isolating . . . and the list went on. People started talking about how they wanted healthy relationships, and some talked about past relationships that failed and why they failed, and why they are better off now without the person they used to be with.

I stayed quiet for the most part throughout the first part of the class. I didn’t have anything to say for a while. There was only one thought in my mind, and it was about the relationships I have and have had–the broken relationships, with broken people, and a broken me. Finally, I shared my thoughts.

14-14-1-15-19-56-48m.jpgI can’t cut off my family just because they aren’t perfect. I can’t stop all relationships because they aren’t healthy. So what if I love someone who isn’t the best for me? If I love them, I love them; there’s no turning it off.

The goal isn’t for me to get better so I can be in a perfectly healthy relationship. The goal is to love, to stay, to be present, and to be active in the midst of the brokenness. There’s going to be brokenness in every person and relationship; we can’t let that stop us from living and loving now.

I have friends who are committed to their marriage even though one person has an addiction. I have friends who stay even though their loved one is fighting cancer and it is painful to watch. I have a friend who keeps living life to the fullest, even though he was in a terrible accident that cost him the use of his legs. I personally have anxiety, bouts of crying and panic attacks, but I’m still taking risks and living my life.

love-quotes-22I have come to the place where I know I’m going to have times where I cry and am angry and feel hurt, and that is okay. I’m going to face difficult times, and I’m going to be able to live through it and love through it, even though it hurts.

We don’t have to hide from love because we are broken, or because the person we love is broken. We don’t have to wait to live until there’s a better moment or a more ideal situation. Today is the day to live and to love.

If we continue to seek something “better,” we will constantly pass up love while we wait for “the best” for our lives. Why not be content now? Why not have fun now? Why do we have to keep grasping for a better job, a better person, a better life? We have the life we have now, and it’s ours to live, with all of its brokenness.

We can seek perfection, or we can seek contentment. Perfection will cost us our relationships, and being present in the moment. But with contentment, we can live and love today, in the midst of brokenness.

We have a choice, we can harden our hearts to protect ourselves from the hurt life brings, or we can allow God to give us a heart that is full of passion, the ability to feel, and, yes, vulnerability to pain.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

Lord, help us to see beyond our brokenness. So many of us seek “better” things . . .  accomplishments, jobs, a person to be in a relationship with, more money, beauty, or even a quest for emotional health . . . But all that really matters is that we love right here and right now. Thank-You for loving us in our brokenness, and for giving us the capacity to love others in the midst of theirs.’ 


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

She wrote this piece to share with the San Antonio CBC Young Professionals class, of which she is a part.