Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
-Luke 7:47 (NIV)


I was upset. I had been hurt by someone, and I felt aggrieved. The matter was not going to be rectified, and this upset me more.


I went to God with my frustration and wondered why there wouldn’t be justice with the matter. Why was I continually hurt by this?


During the course of praying, the process flipped. “How many people have I hurt in my life?” An interesting prompting from God.


It started out as a curiosity. How many people could I list that I had hurt throughout my life? It couldn’t be that many, could it?


There are some people that came to mind right away. I listed them, but those were not surprises. As I continued to list people, more people came to mind.


Random memories came to the forefront as I remembered situations where I hurt someone. Intentional. Unintentional. Malice. Ignorance. It didn’t matter what was behind it. If I hurt someone I wrote down their name.


As I was writing names down I would often pause. I reflected on how I had hurt an individual, and hoped they were okay.


I remembered stealing from a classmate in second grade. I remembered making fun of a classmate in third grade because they had a disability. I remembered using a racial epithet toward a classmate in the third grade. I remembered making fun of someone’s sexuality in elementary school.


There were the girls I dated where I was only concerned about satisfying my selfish desires. There were the guys I considered myself better than and I would embarrass them when given the opportunity.


As a missionary. As a pastor. As a leader. I could think of the people I had hurt all while representing God. I prayed my mistakes, my sin, had not adversely affected their faith.


I wrestled writing down some of the names because they had hurt me deeply. What I had done to them paled in comparison to what they did to me. It didn’t matter. I wrote their names down because I had hurt them in some way.


In one day, I wrote down over 100 names of individuals I had hurt. It was sobering. I repented of a lot of things I had forgotten I had done. I prayed for a number of people I had not thought about in quite some time. I find myself continuing to pray for them. While it is easy to think of the people that have hurt us, and I can rattle off the names of those who were quite sinister to me, for me it was easy not to consider all the individuals I had hurt.

The old adage is true, hurt people hurt people. We forget how we continue the cycle of violence. I vividly recall the bully who tormented me, but I push away the memories of those I hurt. I want to stop the cycle of violence.

It was in dealing with my addiction that I understood the depths of my pain, and the depths of how I hurt others. This process of listing people I had hurt hammered home my own sin. I keep the list with me. It prompts me to pray more for others, to be mindful of others’ stories/pain they may be dealing with, to examine justly my own being (past and present) so I can respond in a Christlike way, and to always love and forgive.

The list of names covers my entire life. I still add to the list when I think of someone. The longer I was a Christian, especially from when I dealt with my addiction, the less people I hurt. My hope is not to add anymore to the list at some point. Some of the individuals I have hurt I have tried to reach out to. Some think it was no big deal. Some are appreciative of the apology. Some want nothing to do with me. I understand that response. I keep praying.

Hurt people hurt people, but I believe in the opposite as well.

We love because he first loved us.
-1 John 4:19 (ESV)

Loved people love people. When we grasp the depths of how much we are loved, forgiven, redeemed, we can extend that to others.

(The above names are stand-ins for names off of my list. They are the most popular baby names from 2015.)

3 thoughts on “Hurt (adj) People Hurt (verb) People

  1. I read this a while ago and wrestled with whether I should respond. I don’t know if I am one of those people on your list, or even if I need to be. But I still have questions that I think about from time to time regarding our time together at YWAM. I know it’s been twenty years. I guess I’ve been wondering exactly why we stopped being friends. Did I do anything that I need to ask you for forgiveness? I wanted to ask you when I was attending CCC, but it didn’t seem appropriate. Anyway, thank you for your transparency in your blog posts. I remember the Robert from youth group; you’ve come a long way, my friend. Praise God!


    1. Oh no, not at all! It wasn’t you. Goodness, I wish I could revisit my time in Arkansas (with YWAM). A lot of strained friendships in the end. Wish I could interact with some of those people now. I’m more mature in my faith, but also in a better environment. Ministry life is hard, and one thing that makes me sad is how people in it can be isolated from true community because of the “work” of ministry. The demands can be time consuming, and drain one’s soul. Leadership is key in providing healthy situations for their teams. I was talking to a former coworker about how in the end the work culture we were within affected our friendship. We had to talk it through, and it was good. Just sucks that’s how it is at times. As I’m maturing, and becoming more aware of environmental influence with friendships, I’m trying to be more intentional about being the best friend I can be with people. Sometimes, this comes back to bite me. A leader once told me there was a perception I prioritize worshipping with my family on Sunday mornings than I do work. Trying to do the right thing for your own soul, and the well-being of your family, isn’t easy. (Granted, it’s better in the long term than being selfish.) As I do this, I realize how this wasn’t always the case in the past with my life. Yeah, I was younger, and didn’t always have good teaching or examples, but still it’s on me. I wasn’t loving toward people. I assumed the worst about people. I hurt those that had hurt me. I learn, and hope I’m better with people going forward. Even if there isn’t reconciliation in this life with some former ministry friends, there will be in Heaven. That’ll be awesome.


      1. I am cleaning out my email inbox and realized I never responded to this! Sorry about that!
        Oh my, I have sooo many regrets about my time in Arkansas. I don’t regret going through that experience at all, in fact I categorize my life as pre-YWAM and post-YWAM, but I regret choices I made in my attitude and actions. I was so focused on myself and what God could do for me, that I fear I was a very ineffective witness to those I should have been loving and serving. And, admittedly, I was too focused on you and our friendship. I can laugh at that now that I’m older (and hopefully, more mature). But back then, I have to say it was very painful and possibly PART of the reason why I left Arkansas. There were other reasons as well. I, too, am looking forward to Heaven, where we will never hurt each other again and our focus will be solely on praising the Lord. No distractions!


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