Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

Day 7: Hurt People Hurt People // 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness


photo: Matthew Henry

Hi there! This is day 7 of a series I’m writing this October called 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness. You can find the entire series here: 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness.

Relationships are hard. They’re even harder when we are dealing with our own stuff. Some people say you can’t actually love others until you love yourself, but I don’t buy that. Never let yourself be convinced that you have no business loving another person because you’re not qualified. It can be difficult to love others well when we are struggling to stay afloat ourselves, but you guys, it is so worth trying.

I’ll tell you a story from today that also reaches all the way back to the 1960s, in a weird way. Today, I yelled at my boyfriend when I was mad. He didn’t deserve it, and he forgave me pretty quickly, but it took me longer to forgive myself. When I was a kid, my mom used to do a lot of yelling and because of this, I never envisioned myself being a yeller. Shouting still scares me. Even to this day, I get nervous and stressed when I hear yelling, even if it’s not directed at me. So anytime I lose it and yell at my boyfriend, it’s never one of my proudest moments.

When I was getting yelled at as a kid, what I didn’t know was that my mom was stressed to the gills with work, bills, raising a child, putting herself through school, and doing all of this on her own. She didn’t mean to take that out on her kid, but there was nobody around to yell her frustrations at but me.

Let’s go back even further. My grandma had my mom when she was pretty young. Married at 16, a mom at 18, my grandma had no idea how to be a good mama, and she wasn’t. She didn’t drink milk while pregnant to contribute to healthy bones and teeth for her baby because she didn’t prefer it. She cut off her six-year-old daughter’s long, blonde hair because she was jealous. She neglected and mistreated my mom throughout her childhood, eventually dumping her on the doorstep of another family member, opting out of raising her altogether. It gets worse, but that’s a story for another day. I’m not sure what happened to my grandma to make her like that, but I think it must have really been something.

I believe my grandma must have been hurt in some way, so she hurt my mom. My mom was hurt and stressed, so she passed on some of that hurt to me. Then, decades later, I yelled at my boyfriend, hurting him too. As it turns out, hurt people tend to hurt people.

The good news is that the cycle can absolutely end. I believe this with my whole heart. My mom did her best to pass on as little hurt as she could to me and I still got some of it, but not as big a load as she did. In her own way, she tried to break the generational cycle, and it’s my job to continue trying my hardest to let it end with me. This involves some hard work: it involves being intentional about the way I speak to the people I love, especially the ones who are closest to me, because somehow they are the easiest ones to take out my pain on. It involves being intentional about how I speak to my children someday, and my boyfriend now, and really everyone I meet. It involves replacing harsh words with prayers, anger with swift forgiveness – even when I really, REALLY don’t feel like it. Breaking the generational hurt cycle in my case has involved therapy, and taking frequent hard looks at how I might be unconsciously trying to justify my hurt behavior with my hurt feelings: just because I am dealing with my own junk doesn’t mean I can treat people like crap. And I have to own that and be aware of it to move forward. It’s true that hurt people hurt people, but healed people heal people. It’s my constant prayer that Jesus will help me slip into the second column more often. I can’t wait for the day when He will break all the chains that hold us back from being the totally amazing versions of us that we were meant to be all along. Come quick, Jesus.

May we do the work to stop our hurts from multiplying and make sure the cycle breaks with us. We are going to make mistakes. As long as sin imparts a little brokenness to us all, we are unfortunately going to hurt others from time to time whether we are dealing with hurt in our own lives or not. But may we do our very best to intentionally replace hurt with love. May we make choices that support breaking the cycle by choosing to serve and love others on purpose, whether they deserve it or not, and whether we feel like it or not. I find that sometimes the best thing for my hurt is to reach out to someone else who is hurting. We’re all in this together. And though we might not yet be all the way healed, let’s be healing people who are healing people. Who’s with me?


4 Responses to Day 7: Hurt People Hurt People // 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness

  1. Thank you for sharing…brokenness. I was touched and can some what relate to your childhood, your mother, and grandmother’s story. My grandmother was not very loving to my mother, and my mother was not very loving to me. They both came from a time where emotion was really not demonstrated. By the grace of God, I am so thankful that I am not in any way shape or form that way with my children and that the cycle has definitely been broken in that way!

    • Sometimes I honestly wish that brokenness wasn’t a part of my story, but then I would miss out on connecting with people like you. Your story gives me hope that I can be a good mama someday, which is something I worry about. Thank you for sharing that here!

  2. “Hurt people hurt people.” Yes. I’ve used this phrase as well in writing about the impact of Childhood Trauma. You’re right that it’s SO important to break the generational cycle! Not only does it take intentional choices, but sometimes specific prayers to cut those generational spirits as well. It’s wonderful to read that you’re doing intentional work to change this now– before you’re a parent! Blessings on your continued journey, wherever that leads!

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