Hurt People, Hurt People
I think it’s funny that we so often view Biblical characters as the ultimate role models. Sure, there are plenty of heroes demonstrating obedience, faith and love. But, more often than not, the majority of Biblical characters are much like the rest of us…human and flawed. No matter the character or their behaviors, we can both relate to them and learn from them. With that said, this past weekend, my church started a new series called, “Bad Boys of the Bible.” Catchy…right?

We started this series by looking at the book of Philemon…25 verses squeezed between Titus and Hebrews. I don’t remember reading this book, but if it offers an interesting story of shame and forgiveness. Here’s a brief overview of the story: 
  • Paul is writing a letter to Philemon from his prison cell in Rome. While in prison, Paul receives a visitor named Onesimus (a former slave to Philemon). Onesimus is a runaway slave who has fled to Rome after taking money or goods from Philemon.  
  • In meeting Paul, Onesimus becomes a Christian and they (Paul and Onesimus) develop a friendship. Although Paul would like to keep Onesimus with him, he has an obligation to Philemon to reunite a slave to his master. So he writes this letter.
  • In this letter, Paul commends Philemon for the loving compassion he’s shown to his fellow Christians. He then pleads that Philemon would treat Onesimus with that same compassion, knowing that slaves (such as Onesimus) who flee their masters were often killed under Roman law. 
  • Paul asked that Philemon would receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul himself…as a brother in Christ and fellow believer…essentially asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus.
The way I see it, slavery has a way of making anyone feel incredible shame. Shame creates hurt…and hurt people, hurt people. In fact, speaking from experience…when you feel hurt, it’s so hard to feel as though anyone loves you…let alone God.
IMG_5357 RS
In order for us to live the lives we’re designed to live, we’ve really got to deal with our shame and allow ourselves to be forgiven. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to go about it the wrong way. Perhaps you’ve tried these ineffective approaches: 
  • Numbing. You look for ways to numb the pain such as drugs (anti-depressants even), alcohol, bad relationships, excessive spending habits, etc. Anyone? If you’ve been there (and I think we all have at some point or another…I know I have), you know that trying to numb the pain doesn’t work. Besides, you can’t selectively numb emotions. If you try to numb shame, you also numb joy. If you try to numb sadness, you also numb happiness. Nobody wants to feel numb.
  • Perform it away. I don’t think this approach describes me, but you might identify with this one. Essentially, you believe that God keeps a record of your rights and wrongs (Santa Claus?). If you screw up, you try to make up for it by increasing your number of “attaboys.” Even better, you try to make those “attaboys” public so everyone can see what a great job you’re doing. If you’ve ever seen the show Keeping Up Appearances, then you know that after a while, no one takes you seriously and people start to question your motivations. Thank GOD that our entrance into heaven isn’t based on our performance! I’m not sure any of us would ever measure up. 
The good news is that if we’re willing to hand over our shame (our guilt, our addictions, our hurt, etc) and allow ourselves to be forgiven, then God can do great things in our lives. You are NOT your sin, (Romans 8:2) “because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” But, until we deal with our own situations…we can’t possibly help others. 

So, if we are freed from sin and live in forgiveness…what does that look like? 
  • We joyfully obey rather than doing stuff for the sake of “trying” to earn God’s love. 
  • We consistently do the small things well: treat others with kindness, help our neighbors, etc. As a result, peace and rest will take over our lives and we can experience true love, patience, kindness and forgiveness.
***By the way, I am honored to be guest posting over at Then there were 5 by Kel Elwood today. It would mean so much to me if you stopped by to see me. Have a great day!***

    Gorgeous photo! Great message!

    Great post. I am heading over to Kel’s site now. I LOVE her photos!

    I love that you mentioned Keeping up Appearances, great analogy lol.

    Excellent post! Such a powerful verse from Romans, too.

    Thank you for sharing something that uplifts one’s spirit. Have a blessed day.

    Great post, I lake it!
    Have a nice day:)

    Love your post and that shot is gorgeous.

    Erika B

    Great post, Ashley- very thought provoking.
    Love the image too!

    I did that with alcohol for year and it did NO good at all for me, looking back. So thankful God met me where I was and changed my life forever! Thanks for sharing Ashley!

    Just wanted to say I dig the new look around here!

    this is such a hard thing to apply to your life. especially as a christian at times. Thank you for sharing your scripture studies! :)
    love the photo too. and the font :)

    Great post, Ashley!

    What a wonderful series to start! And a wonderful way to start the day!

    What an incredible word and truth spoken here.

    Oh for freedom that He disires to give us all.

    I always enjoy your posts Ashley.

    Thanks for being so bold in your love for the Lord.

    Beautifully said, Ashley! And, thank you for taking the time to share that – out loud – with all of us. “Now, ain’t that a witness for my Lord?” (Do you know that spiritual?=]) It’s been right in a theme of my thoughts – it’s the fourth time this has come up, in the past 9 days.

    You’re beautiful!

    Love, Katy xo

    Ashley you are amazing. Thanks for sharing. Gorgeous photo also.

    What an interesting series! I’ve always appreciated the fact that even David, who was a “man after God’s own heart” was SO flawed.

    beautiful in every way ashley!

    He came for the sick! He came to heal those who need healing! I don’t know a soul alive that doesn’t need healing in some way.

    Thankful that God loves to call me His daughter and loves me with all my flaws and sins. I’m thankful that I am completely forgiven by the blood of the lamb. Once and for all!

    Hugs and love!

    AMEN! God expects us to love one another as He loves us. We can’t truly do that unless we believe that He truly does love us despite of everything. He gave His one and only son to save us all. Now if that’s not love…. So why is it so hard for us to demonstrate a fraction of that love to others?

    Beautifully written! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Gorgeous shots and post!

    Fabulous message Ashley!

    gorgeous photo! Love it! Great message too!

    This is so true. First off, I am quick to unveil the reality of Biblical characters being normal, flawed people that were used by an Almighty God to those people who have some how missed that point while reading/hearing the Word.

    Secondly, forgiveness……while difficult (to not only except, nut extend) depending on the hurt it is 100% necessary. I know from experience that accepting and extending forgiveness is a choice that is often made on a daily basis, but the choice is much more freeing than the alternative.

    Lovely photo and wonderful verse. So thankful for the forgiveness offered through Christ.

    I love the way you do a post like this every week, and that you are prepared to share your love of God with the rest of us. :)

    Excellent post, and beautiful image as well! :)

    “hurt people, hurt people” What truer words are there? It becomes a cycle doesn’t it. Thanks for sharing this great message with us this week, Ashley!

    There are a few things I’ve hung on to through the years, knowing in word that I have been forgiven, but not in heart.

    So this: You are NOT your sin, (Romans 8:2) — this really strikes a chord with me.

    Thank you for that, Ashley — those words just jumped off the screen at me.

    [And your photo…as always, a beautiful gift to brighten my day].

    Powerful and so true.