“Why don’t you love me, Jenny? I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is.” ~Forrest Gump
Who are safe people? Someone much like Forrest Gump, I believe.
He loved Jenny through everything. Even tried to protect her, “He should not be hitting you, Jenny.”
But sometimes our hurts run deeper than we can understand and in a weird way we learn how more pain can feel sort of normal (which really isn’t normal at all). That’s how Jenny was. Abused by her father, she prayed to fly away like a bird, but ended up drifting toward people who confirmed the worth her daddy taught her.
If I’m not treated right as an innocent little girl, then who would ever keep me safe? Some could easily reason.
Last week I wrote about seeking out authentic friendships to help us deal with unresolved emotions. I’d like to reiterate the importance of these friendships once again because we need healthy places to re-teach the wrong that our past taught us. We’ve all been hurt by friendships. For some of us, that pain is too fresh, but for all of us we can recall a hurtful memory from childhood.
Why is it that stories of misused words and rejection from years ago bring fresh, real tears to grown women?
Why am I still able to place my twelve year old body at the top of a concrete step on a summer day, wearing my favorite Famous Amos T-shirt and navy shorts, like it was yesterday?
Because while sucking absent-mindedly on a popsicle, a mean thirteen year old boy catapulted four careless words while eye-level with my tween thighs. “Your legs are fat” he said.
I had already told myself this fact because my girlfriend’s legs stood next to me. Sleek. Slender and long. He only confirmed what my knowing eyes registered many times as we walked along the road. Kids aren’t blind.
While licking flavored ice, my heart was open, as a child’s should be, but that boy reached in with a purple magic marker and wrote what I’ve believed ever since. Coronary surgery would prove that the words, “your legs are fat” are still there, scribbled just above the left ventricle.
All through our lives we let unsafe people write words with their markers until room for graffiti is used up and then we close our heart and seal it with agreements made about ourselves. Few people know what’s written on the inside because we stop talking about it. But we know.
May I also add, before I move on, that we too use markers? We’ve written words. We are also unsafe.
So what do we do with our hurt?
Henry Cloud writes:
“Distorted thinking was learned in context of relationship, and that is the only place where it can be unlearned. You now need relationship to undo the learning of the past; there your real self can be connected in grace and truth and therefore be transformed.”
There are two types of relationships: Eternal and Earthly.
My Twenty-five year eternal relationship with Jesus tells me that it is my inner beauty and value as his child that matters most, not the size or shape of my legs.
My Twenty-two year earthly relationship with my husband also tells me the same thing as he holds me, seeks to love and know all of me; strokes my hair when I’m not feeling as confident as I should.
Both Jesus and The Teacher have been scribbling all these years to cover the purple magic marker. Words of hurt.
It’s better, but not gone.
Next time we open our mouths to speak to another let’s remember how many years words stay alive within a human soul…
Safe People~ Who are they? I never answered the question…
I believe the safe people are the ones who realize that our hearts can be written upon and so they speak words of encouragement, hope and understanding. Safe people are also simple people–much like Forrest Gump, ready to love no matter what, even when we’re confused, even when our choices don’t make sense–they still love.
Who are the safe people in your life? Open your heart to those people–let them use a marker to write words of affirmation right over what a careless fool told you twenty years ago. It works like magic!
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)