I sat across from her. In the glow of the restaurant, she looked away and spoke from her pain. She was honest with me. I heard and understood her.
The book of her life opened. It began making sense to me. In it, I saw layers of pain, remorse, grief and regret.
How often I only looked at the cover of the book. And how often I judged her.
Have you ever judged someone based on what you see on top, not knowing the layers below, the chapters of their story?
This past weekend I spent twenty-two hours on the road by myself. I thought about hurts, people, and layers. In my work as a counseling professional, I see lots of layers where people only see the top.
My conclusion is that instead of judging others, we need to honor their stories.
“Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
I sat across the table making judging statements. She hurt me. The tears came. I was embarrassed that I was still wounded so many years later.
Driving with hours of thoughts, I saw the layers she had in her life. I realized perhaps it wasn’t about me, but it came out of her own pain. Her own regret, her own remorse at a life she once controlled but now couldn’t change because of circumstances gone bad. I cried. I cried because beyond the hurt is a love I haven’t expressed because the hurt has stood in the way.
God told me to honor her pain beyond my hurt.
Is this how it should be for you, too?
Who do you judge because they’ve hurt you? Have you looked to see what’s beneath the cover, what’s in their story, what’s the root of their pain?
I’ve hurt others in my pain and others have hurt me in theirs. Even after forgiveness, the pain remains. Pain I’ve caused and pain you’ve caused.
I’m learning by honoring their pain, their layers, their stories, my hurt diminishes. Outside of abuse, can you honor the story of one who’s hurt you? Can you recognize their pain, honoring the places in their life where hurt runs deep? Can you allow the Lord to heal your pain so you can release it and begin honoring the stories around you?
There is power in honoring our stories. God is the maker of stories, chapters full of pain, joy, sorrow and celebration. He allows us to write the story based on choices we make. The timeline can’t be erased, but God, through His son, Jesus Christ, is the One who removes the sin and hurt we’ve inflicted upon ourselves and others.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:8-12
Are there stories you need to honor so that you can forgive? Is there pain in your own story you need to honor? By honoring our stories, our layers, our pain, there’s an open door for God to infuse His power of understanding, mercy and grace.