Sometimes I feel like a burn victim.
Let’s be honest. Words hurt and actions can scar. We try not to let them get to us, but we flinch and squirm as if they are physically hurling balls of fire in our direction. And when fire scorches us, we feel the burn.
Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a path where the people around me hold torches. With each harsh comment, whether intentional or unintentional, it’s as if their fire is being directed at my skin. And the more I walk forward, the more times I get burned.
“You’re not good enough.”
“I’m busy, I don’t have time for you.”
“I hate it when you do this…”
“I don’t like you.”
We try to stand up, be strong, not let these things get to us, but at the end of our day it seems we look more like a burn victim then a resilient soldier.
Recently I was talking to my friend about first and second degree burns. I’m not sure why this particular topic came up, but I mentioned how big of a baby I am when I burn myself on a stove, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to have my entire body engulfed in burns. My friend said that some victims are in so much pain that they often don’t feel anything at all, it’s like their body knows to protect them from it.
It got me thinking about how we do this when we get burned by the people around us. In an effort to keep ourselves from getting hurt, we train ourselves to become numb. At least I do. But lately, I’ve been noticing the more numb I get, the worse I feel about myself.
Like I said, sometimes I feel like a burn victim.
In the past 12 months there have been a series of fires. People saying things that hurt deeply, friends that have taken advantage or for granted, confidants who’ve betrayed and close relationships who seemingly cease to exist. And as I stock each memory in my head, I feel my heart turns numb, stubbornly refusing to let anyone else in. After all, if you can’t love, you can’t hurt.
When I was little I was quite fascinated by snakes. The fact that they can shed off their creepy little shell of a body and come out with new skin, leaving the old behind to waste away is pretty incredible. Our bodies have a similar “cool factor” in its ability to heal from burns. Depending on the degree of the burn, our skin knows how to repair itself, scabbing until the skin heals before falling off.
There really is no guarantee in our lives that we won’t get hurt by the people around us – especially the ones that we love the most. And just like when we get physically burned, sometimes these emotional burns will scar more than others.
I think we can learn a lot from the line “feel the burn.” We can spend our entire lives building up brick walls, cementing ourselves away from society, vowing to protect ourselves from pain, but it won’t change anything. What you’ll find is a closed in space. Honestly, you’ll probably get claustrophobic. And when the fire catches up to you, even bricks and stones can’t stop it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s something really exhilarating on not holding your pain, in dealing with it, letting it hurt for a little bit and then letting it go. It may seem like a more painful route, but what we’re doing is allowing God to be in control of our situations, our heartaches and our disappointments. We may not be able to handle these flames, but God can.
Sometimes the most painful thing in these ‘fire’ moments is having to acknowledge that things are out of our control. We can’t control the way people think of us, how they treat us, how they love or don’t love us – it’s out of our hands.
I’m not saying we should be superman. I’m not saying if you take certain steps, you can avoid getting hurt altogether. The Bible tell us that this world will bring us troubles. We will walk through fires but God’s promise can give us hope. Yes, we may walk through fires, but we will never have to walk it alone.
The more I think about being a burn victim, the more I see how often it’s me that’s been putting myself in this cast. I’ve let the critics hurt me. I’ve cared more of what others think of me than what God thinks of me. I let myself feel abandoned when people don’t make time for me. And the more I let myself wallow in it, the more vulnerable I am to being hurt again and again and again.
So, I’m trying something new, I’m going to start embracing the fires. The hurts. The disappointments. I’m accepting these as my moments to learn from them and hopefully one day I can pass these lessons on to others along the way. And when the flames come in, I won’t continue to fuel it with my bitterness. Instead, I’ll lean on my loving Father who is walking in the fire with me.
And of course, I’ll check myself for matches.