Why Do We Hurt the People We Love?

hurt

The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever.
Carroll Bryant

Last night, I attended a Lent Reconciliation service for children at my church. Fr. Michael stood up to speak briefly before the services began and I found myself glued to his every word. He first read the story of when Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after the resurrection. After they had all finished eating, Jesus asks Simon Peter, “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus goes on to repeat the question three times. Simon Peter’s third and last response is, “”Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Fr. Michael went on to explain that Simon Peter was the disciple who had denied knowing Jesus three times before His crucifixion. (NIV 60-61): “Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Jesus, according to Fr. Michael, was not mad at Simon Peter. He loved him and forgave him. Simon Peter wanted to be forgiven and it was done. But, he asked, “Why do you think we want to be forgiven? We don’t have to ask for forgiveness if we don’t want to. We do it because of love.”

He told the congregation that the love that we feel for someone leads us to want to be forgiven. It is because of that love that we seek forgiveness in the first place. He told everyone to imagine their own life. “Think about a time when you were hurt in your own life. How would you feel if a friend you loved did this to you?”

I almost felt like Fr. Michael was speaking directly to me. I, like so many others, have been hurt more times than I can count. But Fr. Michael’s point was we all get hurt but it doesn’t mean that person doesn’t love you or that you don’t love them. Sometimes the people we love are easy targets. We don’t mean to hurt them.

The following is a verse from a song by the Mills Brothers called You Always Hurt the One You Love:

“You always hurt the one you love, the one you should not hurt at all;
You always take the sweetest rose, and crush it till the petals fall;
You always break the kindest heart, with a hasty word you can’t recall;
So if I broke your heart last night, it’s because I love you most of all.”

In the case of Simon Peter, I’m sure it was fear that led him to deny knowing Jesus, a man he loved dearly. But obviously there are varying reasons why we hurt the people we love. Just look around you. How many times have you seen best friends become enemies and two lovers become strangers? Many times, right?

So why, then, do we hurt the people we love? Well, for one, the ego has a good role in all of this. Our ego prevents us from expressing our feelings. When we love someone so deeply, it is only natural that we expect certain things from them. We want them to feel the same way we do and do the same things we do. But when we feel that our feelings or actions are not reciprocated, we often react by hurting the one we love. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is intentional but more often it’s not.

Think of it this way, when you meet someone new and there is a conflict, what happens? You don’t think much about it. You are able to just go on with your life. But when it involves someone you love, it’s not that easy. You’ve given the other person a piece of your heart. You’ve told this person your deepest secrets. You trusted this person and this makes things all the more difficult.

There is conflict in every relationship sooner or later. Change happens. Life happens. How many times have you promised never to hurt someone only to hurt them in the end? Sometimes these conflicts lead to the end of a marriage, make strangers out of family members or turn friends into foes.

I’m not making excuses or implying that it’s OK to hurt the one you love, far from it. But if we could all just put our egos aside and look at the bigger picture, just maybe we’ll see that certain relationships are worth fighting for. Maybe we’ll realize it’s worth holding on for just a little bit longer. And just maybe it all begins with admitting your pain, acknowledging your own vulnerability and asking for forgiveness.

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