Some things that come out of my mouth astonish me. I can be quite profound! Sometimes I call my brother to ask very serious theological questions. Other times, “Brother, if I say boiled an egg yesterday and let it set on the counter overnight, do you think it’s okay to eat?” Incidentally, we consulted a third party on that one and decided to play it safe.
Other things come out of my mouth that are so silly they make me smile. Some things are so mean that I have to rebuke myself inwardly and apologize openly. I can be so hateful! God forgive me please! Not to mention the occasional curse word that still escapes.
With all the nonsense and all the wisdom that crosses my lips, nothing surprised me more than when I uttered the following four words in absolute truth, “I really don’t care.” I really didn’t. Not about anything. What normally would have made me smile, didn’t. What normally would’ve broken my heart, didn’t. What normally would’ve made me clench my fists and tighten my jaw, just didn’t. I wasn’t thrilled, I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t moved at all. I just didn’t care.
The numbness felt safe because I didn’t feel anything at all. It felt like a void. What had happened to me? I had experienced too much unexpected. Too much instability. Too much hurt. I had cried too much, worried too much, hurt too much. I had surrendered. I had given up and conformed.
That’s what happens. We conform with broken hearts and hopeless minds to the things that hurt us. Eventually, we’ve been around so many people who don’t care, that we stop caring too. We don’t ever believe that we will become bitter. Yet, here we are becoming the very things that scare us because it is easier than holding our own. We break and, before we know it, we are ‘those’ people. Those people who take care of ourselves and walk around with walls built around us.
We protect ourselves. No one can hurt us, because we truly just don’t give a darn anymore. We create more people just like ‘us’ by becoming just like ‘them’. We are exhausted. We are insecure. We are crazy. We are all these things because we’ve learned to look to the people around us, the titles we hold, and the possessions we acquire to define us.
These things are lost, stolen and destroyed. Yet we let them elevate us and drop us repeatedly to the point where we are destroyed. People lie, they let you down, and if you aren’t careful, you will do the same to someone else. Why? Because it is very easy for hurt people to hurt people over and over again. And everything you hate in someone else is exactly who you are at risk of becoming.
However, there is hope! You can’t be responsible for other people. You can’t demand and expect the people you love to be honest, respectful, faithful … but you can be responsible for yourself. You can be honest and faithful.
If, instead of losing ourselves in the world of temporary, we lose ourselves in the love of God, maybe we can move beyond the realm of mortal influence and be comforted by the eternal security of a faithful Father. If we define ourselves by His eternal nature, maybe instead of bitter, we can become better. Being “…hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV).
We can’t escape the people who hurt us. In fact, those people are often the ones we love the most. They will look at us and put us down when we don’t share their pessimism. They certainly won’t understand when we get excited about, well pretty much, everything. They will try their best to make us feel less because we are in fact more.
Our worth is far greater than anything reflected in our culture. Our identity is anchored securely in the unfailing love of God. Today, we are responsible for ourselves. We can choose to worship God and to serve others. We can love too much. We can enjoy life too much. We can pray and laugh and sing too much. Today is a new day and we can be so very glad in it.