Beyond the Hurt

by J. Blake on May 7, 2010

“Like WHAT?”

These two words have been etched indelibly in my heart since I heard them four months ago. My neighbor, a troubled foster youth waiting to be adopted, said them to me when I told him “you can do better things with your life.”

This teenage boy had been moved around, had issues with violence and other behavior problems, and had stolen some things from my car just before this conversation of ours. He was also intelligent, funny, irresistibly charming, and very, very hurt. I told him about what I’ve seen happen to people who continue down the path he was on and told him I wanted better for him. He could do better things.

I’ll never forget the way he said “Like what?” He said it like some sort of challenge, like he wanted to hear me say something he hadn’t heard a thousand times before, like he was dying to hear something that would actually resonate for him. Sadly, I don’t think I succeeded in being more than trite, in saying anything more than the typical which he has likely dismissed over and over a hundred times before.

The truth is, “like what?” is a question no one can ever really answer for someone else. The most I could have hoped to do was to open him up to answer it for himself. Obviously, that is not a task typically accomplished in one sitting.

It is something so many of us are floundering with on an ongoing basis. How do we envision overcoming our pasts, surpassing our limitations, and making a brighter future for ourselves? Even when there is some modicum of stability in our lives, this is tough enough to approach, but with the added hurdles of abuse, loss, and constant moving . . . envisioning a life beyond the hurt you’ve always known can be as abstract as envisioning the magnitude of the universe.

This encounter touched me deeply. I am working on ways to partner and bring heavy-hitters to San Diego to speak to our youth–people who have really been there in the worst of life’s circumstance, have managed to overcome, and have managed to thrive. That kind of voice holds the power to touch a heart, open a mind, tweak a vision just enough to convince a person to begin to make use of the resources for change available to them in their day to day lives. Without such a tweak of conciousness, so many people are stuck in the black-hole of their own habits of woundedness.

And while an empowerment event is a great way to offer a glimmer of hope to a multitude of lives who have little, each of us holds the power in our personal voice to offer hope to individuals we come in contact with. It’s offering a smile and compassion where these are scarce. It’s refraining from judgment and from offering unsolicited advice. It’s offering forgiveness, even while holding one responsible for their actions. It’s demonstrating that after each mistake, no matter how grave, we can each get up, start again, and do better with ourselves.

It’s not really the kind of thing you can easily answer in a sentence, but more something you model as you live. “Like what?” Like asking for the help you need to overcome your hurt, like being part of a support group that shows you that you aren’t the only one who is struggling, like learning how to make choices with integrity so that tomorrow won’t be as bad as today. This is how you do better with your life. And, how do you express that to another? You model it. You say in your own little way, “Like THIS!”

May we all be the catalysts for mutual healing . . .

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: