It’s interesting the stuff that sticks with you from your childhood. I can still remember the cover of the dinosaur book on the shelf in front of me as I was being paddled by my teacher for drawing in my English book. I can also remember our electric lawn mower. Whoever invented the electric lawn mower was probably an extension cord salesman looking for job security. We used our electric mower to mow a soccer field at our missionary dorm school so I learned a lot about splicing chopped up electrical cords as a kid.
Are you ready for the analogy?
If we don’t pay attention, our hurt and trauma can be like an electric mower–low budget on the front end at great cost over the long run. When we’ve been hurt by someone, the only thing we can control is what we do with our pain. One solution is to stuff it down–pretend it doesn’t affect you or that it never happened. The problem is it doesn’t go away. Instead, it becomes one more hurt in a long string of hurts and sadness.
That cord (get it?) of pain and trauma has a way of getting snagged and tangled–and, at some point, you’re going to run it over and short circuit the whole thing. Trying to unravel or splice together an accumulation of neglected relational and emotional damage comes at great cost. Some people never recover and spend their lives in a cycle of bitterness and hurting others.
If you are willing to pay the price of dealing with pain on the front end, it will pay off in the long run. Two ways of managing hurt in the moment are to get vulnerable and to get help. Instead of stuffing it down or lashing out you can choose to unpack your pain with someone safe. A safe person is someone who agrees to hear you out and promises not to offer advice or solutions. Getting help is finding a safe place to process and seek healing.
It’s best if that first person is a friend who can walk with you as you move forward. Depending on how deep the hurt is, the second person may be a pastor (I know a guy) and/or a counselor. A good pastor will listen, reflect back to you, pray with you and help you determine your options moving forward. A counselor is trained and equipped to help walk you through the process of healing. Getting the help you need and mustering the courage to be vulnerable is hard. I get that. Even so, I promise you it’s worth it!
These days, I realize there are Lithium-ion batteries which means you can, technically, have an electric mower that doesn’t need a cord, which kind of ruins my analogy. On the other hand, batteries need recharging along the way but that’s a sage, pastorly analogy best saved for another day.