One day when I was in seventh grade, I was playing out in the rain when a pickup truck screeched to a halt just a few yards away. Corey Parrott jumped out of the passenger’s side.
Corey was an older kid from my school bus who regularly picked on me, but I was safe on the bus, because Corey didn’t want to get suspended from school (again). But now he had me, and there was nothing I could do to stop him.
When Corey came up to me and started pounding on me, I tried to defend myself, but I was no match for him. And when it was all over, I was lying on the ground in the rain with my hands over my head, hoping he was finished.
It wasn’t over.
Later on that year, I was on the bus, and we were a few yards away from the trailer that Jason Smith lived in. Jason was a quiet kid who wasn’t very sharp, and the other kids made fun of him sometimes. Before we got to his trailer, I jumped into his seat and began punching him over and over again. Jason was stunned, and he was too weak to fight back, so he just ran for the door of the bus when we got to his trailer.
The thing I remember most clearly about beating up Jason is how good it felt to do it. I wasn’t helpless. I was strong. I was powerful. I was just as tough as Corey Parrott.
Holding onto hurts is toxic. The memories fester inside our subconscious and, without a moment’s notice, they come hurling into our lives like vomit. Our spouses, children, friends – even strangers – are left to deal with the nasty messes we make when we explode, but we don’t really care. We enjoy the temporary feeling of catharsis that comes with hurling our angry guts again.
The next time you’re ticked off and want to verbally punch someone, ask yourself a question: what am I really responding to right now? If you’re honest with yourself, there’s a good chance you’re still dealing with the rage from an unresolved hurt that left you feeling helpless and victimized. After it happened, you made an unspoken promise that it would never happen to you again, and now you’re ready to enforce it.
Go back in time with Jesus and revisit those old offenses that still motivate you today. Go back to that memory, find the bully who planted those seeds of rage, and do something revolutionary: forgive him – rejoice that what Jesus did on the cross covered what he did to you.
It may take several trips back in time with Jesus before the healing is complete, but if you work through the process, you will set yourself free, and you’ll make life a lot easier for the people around you.