Have you ever experienced the devastation of someone lashing out at you in anger for a perceived wrong? Maybe you were wrong, but sometimes the accusation is inaccurate and based on a problem in the accuser’s life. It hurts! And often in long-term or close relationships, the accuser starts with a recent “offence” and then works their way back to a history of wrong doing until the accusations are being pulled out from years ago.
As the accused, you may be stunned. Where is this coming from? Why are offenses from the past being dragged into this? The pain of this can be searing and you are devastated as each issue is brought up and hurled like a verbal punch right to your chest.
This can be described as a trip through “The Museum of Hurts.” We tend to remember the times during which we felt attacked, violated, or yelled at. And these become our treasures – something to be gingerly shelved in our museum for later use. We say to ourselves, “I can forgive, but I will never forget,” in order to justify the creation of our museum.
Then, every once in a while, we feel attacked or hurt – sometimes justifiably, often not so. In our pain, our tendency is to lash back in anger, wanting to hurt the other as much as we have been hurt. And we open the Museum of Hurts and start polishing the display of offenses. “Remember two years ago when you lied about this? Remember the time 10 years ago when you dented my fender? Remember when I tried to help you and you never said, “Thank you”? And on it goes. The volume of the accuser’s voice increases and by the time the accuser has run out of steam you are shaking and feeling sick. Often the trip through the museum is repeated during every argument over the course of years and the accusations have been heard many times over.
The purpose of a museum is to collect, preserve, interpret, and display items of significance. The intent of a Museum of Hurts is to preserve all of these perceived offenses against you so that you can pull them out and use them to hurt another. You may have cataloged each offense – you can name it, recall it completely, and even maybe even state the date that it happened.
As Christians, we need to not only close our museums, but tear them down. We should forgive as we have been forgiven – unconditionally and forever. “Forgive us our trespasses,” we pray, “as we forgive the trespasses of those against us.” (Matthew 6:12) Christ told us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) There is no room in forgiveness for harboring an offense, for creating a museum – get rid of it if you have one.
Note: Writer Anna Glass is a member of Joy of All Who Sorrow.