How To Keep People From Hurting Us

There's an easy way to avoid disappointment, hurt, and spiritual wounding from other people. It's almost foolproof.  

Want to know what it is?  I bet you do.  This is it: 

Stay at home, in bed, order food to be dropped off, binge-watch Netflix, shower occasionally, and do everything you can to avoid going outside, talking to anyone, or engaging with people. 

Some of you may have tried that foolproof plan during the pandemic. If you did, I must ask, "How did that go for you?"

It may have started well, but after a few months, even the most introverted among us cried, "Uncle!" We found ourselves masking up and going to the grocery store even though we'd just had groceries delivered so we could see other people. 

The fact is that being out in the world engaging with other humans will bring with it a certain amount of disappointment. It comes with the territory.  To be human with other humans means that at some point you will get hurt. 

But if we're going to live more fully as the human beings that God longs for us to be, we must learn to risk it. This is the only way to discover the genuine personal connections with others we may lack. 

In fact, something deep inside us longs for genuine connection with people, even though we might be dreading the possibility they will break our hearts. 

Author Anne Lamott puts it like this: 

Reality is so jangly.  It's nice and quiet if you stay in bed or pleasantly distracted with the TV and your personal telecommunications empire.  And yet, something in us longs for liberation, for immediacy and presence. 

We can only hold the world at bay for so long before the effort begins to wear on us, drag us down, and keep us living half-lives of isolation, guardedness, and fear.  

The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti was once asked how he maintained serenity in the jangly reality that we inhabit.  He replied, "I don't mind what happens." 

I love the simplicity of that line, but I also have a problem with it because I almost always mind what happens. 

I'm also hyper-aware that any potential connection with another also brings with it a lack of control on my part, which doesn't sit well with me because I rather like being in control of my life. 

The "jangly-ness" of it all means that unless we decide to live our lives as hermits with little or no contact with the outside world, we will occasionally get hurt.  

We can't control everything because it's not in our job description.  

But if we risk the hurt, we also open ourselves up to genuine connections, which is worth the risk.  It's worth the risk because if we want to live openly and more fully into becoming the people we long to be, we must let our guard down.  

For some, that last line may have caused a wrench in our guts.  Letting our guard down is the exact opposite of what our mind, body, and soul seem to want to do, and because of this, it's powerfully challenging. 

In the end, though, if we want to say honestly, "I don't mind what happens," we have to drop our armor, weapons, and desire to be in charge. 

God does not desire us to be hurt, but God knows that when we do, God will be present with us, sitting with us in our pain.  

Let this startling truth cover you with a sense of hope and courage to be vulnerable and surrender to God, who will never leave you or forsake you, no matter what you might be feeling. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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