Go ahead. Finish the sentence.
Hurt people…hurt people.
You’ve heard it a million times. And so have I. And we hear it because there is truth in it. All you need to do is watch the news. Or a crime show. Or read statistics.
The vast majority of people in the world who do horribly evil things to other people…have been hurt. And badly. In their lifetime. And more specifically…in their childhood.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase uttered each time we welcome another child into our home. Sometimes I disregard it because the person saying it is issuing a flippant warning based on some far-fetched tale they heard from someone somewhere.
But often…usually…this phrase is said from a heart of love. A thought of concern. A warning from facts. And it should be listened to. It should be weighed. We should be protecting our families from those hurt people who could hurt people – both outside our homes and within.
I want you to hear me say that. We know. We get it. We have not chosen the “safest” pathway for our family. But we have done so with knowledge, with precautions, and with desperate prayers for God to be our faithful protector.
I want to share another side. A side that I believe to be just as truthful if not more so. I want to change this phrase around, turn it on it’s head. Because, you see, the past 4 years have brought many hurt people into my world. And I’ve learned something about these people.
Hurt people…love people.
They d0! Even those who appear to be the most unlikely to ever love another has shown love from a more true, more real, more beautiful place than I ever could.
You see, they know. They understand. They have been there. They have been hurt. And, more often than not, they turn that around in love.
I’m sharing this because there are some hurt people who hold my heart in each of their little hands. My children. Each and every child in my home is an absolutely beautiful example of this. Each and every one of them have been hurt. I’m not going to detail everything here, but please trust me on this. My children have seen and experienced things that no human being ever should – let alone an innocent child. And my children. They love other hurting children… people… with a fierceness and beauty that simply astounds me.
I remember the time I picked one up from school with a new baby in the car. There simply hadn’t been time to warn her. And I was worried. Her adoption was still new, still fragile. Her trust far from earned. What would this bring up? How would she react?
She greeted that baby with a beaming smile and a squeal of joy. And later that night? When she requested to feed him his bottle? I heard her whispering to him. All the fears and worries she was sure he had. She was whispering reassurances. Whispers of safety, love, and care.
I remember the time two of my older children brought in the mail. In it was a catalog. A literal catalog of children in our state who were waiting for adoptive homes. They could both read so they quickly figured out the purpose of this catalog. Soon they were both sitting there – with tears streaming down their cheeks – sitting together in a chair praying for each child pictured in that catalog.
I remember the time a little boy came for just a weekend. He was dirty, frightened, tough, and a little scary. He came with no shoes, no coat, no carseat, matted hair, and shorts…in February.
He was not kind. He was not gentle. But that didn’t stop my children. There was no fussing in the car as we rearranged carseats and seating situations. When we got home, one dug through the box of shoes to find a pair just his size. Another went to her special stash of bath toys to find ones she thought he would like. Yet another picked out a special stuffed animal (one of her own) to give to him.
And when he left after that weekend? Those shoes. Those bath toys. That special stuffed animal. Those things went with him. Because my children insisted on it.
I remember a conversation we had just a couple weeks ago as we prepared to welcome two new little ones. We were discussing how to best welcome these precious souls.
One child: “…and we shouldn’t just hug them a whole bunch, like not all the time.” (This particular subject is one she has heard a lot about recently.)
Second child: “But some hugs are nice. Because I remember when I first came to your house, you (gesturing to first child) hugged me and even though it was a little weird since I didn’t really know you, it helped me know I would be safe here.”
I remember a time in the car…
(The car is the BEST place for quality conversations, by the way. There is something about the close proximity without the need for eye contact that spurs the pouring out of little hearts. We spend so much time in the car, but I just won’t give it up or pass it off to another for this reason.)
I remember a time in the car. We had passed a familiar landmark and the young soul in the front seat had told me a story. At this point, I was extremely grateful for the need to keep my eyes on the road because they had filled suddenly and simultaneously with hot and angry tears. It was a short story. A simple retelling of hurt and pain. Hurt and pain from someone who should’ve protected and loved.
And then, the words: “But I still love her. So much. I just do and I always will. And if I see her again, I will hug her. Because I know she’s sad. And when moms are sad they need a hug.”
I remember a time, just recently. A time when I heard a cry from an upstairs bedroom. I knew I would need to go back upstairs. Again. To pat the tiny back, sing soft songs, reassure of safety. But I turned on the video monitor first, to assess the rest of the room. I turned it on just in time to see a two-year-old – honestly, one who is still learning to curb his rather selfish side. A two-year-old who’s “things” are very important to him. I saw him climb out of his bed. I saw him reach into the crib and pat the small back. Then he returned to his bed, just long enough to get one of his special blankies. And I watched him return to that crib, stuffing the blankie between the slats until it was inside the crib.
You see, my children have been hurt. In unspeakable, horrifying, terrible ways. They have been hurt, and yet they love. They love well. They love deeply. They love truly.
Their things get broken. Their hair gets pulled. They have to give up space and time and things. Their family grows and shrinks in the blink of an eye – often with hardly any warning.
And they love.
They say ‘hello’ and they say ‘good-bye.’ They see the ones who have hurt them most.
And they love.
Plans change. Special occasions morph and shift. Family outings are clumsy and awkward. Daily traditions are thrown out the window for a time.
And they love.
I see these things and I’m astounded. Humbled. Brought to my knees in thankfulness.
These are things I could never teach. Strengths I have not been asked to show.
This love is a reflection of their Creator God. The one watches over this broken world. The Savior who has promised redemption.
He loves. And they love. From the depths of their tiny hurting hearts. These precious, darling, hurting people. They love.