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The Pulse, by Joseph Mattera

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15 Traits of Wounded Warriors

What you should know about hurt people in the church
What you should know about hurt people in the church (Loren Kerns/Flickr/Creative Commons)

It is an old adage that says "hurt people hurt people."

It is well-known that those who have been emotionally damaged tend to inflict their hurt and pain on other people. For example, a large percentage of those who have been sexually abused become the abusers of others; those who suffered under an alcoholic parent often themselves cause their future family to suffer because of their drunken stupors. Until we as a church deal with the whole person as shown in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, our congregations will be filled with people who are spiritually gifted but act like emotional infants. In other words, the church must deal with emotional health and not just spiritual health and power.

The following are common traits hurt people display in their interactions with others. 

1. Hurt people often transfer their inner anger onto their family and close friends

Often those around them become the recipients of harsh tones and fits of rage because they have unknowingly become the vicarious recipients of transferred rage.

2. Hurt people interpret every word spoken to them through the prism of their pain

Because of their pain, ordinary words are often misinterpreted to mean something negative towards them.

Because of this, they are extremely sensitive and act out of pain instead of reality.

3. Hurt people interpret every action through the prism of their pain

Their emotional pain causes them to suspect wrong motives or evil intent behind other people's actions towards them.

 4. Hurt people often portray themselves as victims and carry a "victim spirit"

Often hurt people can cry "racism," "sexism" and "homophobia," or they often use the words "unjust" or "unfair" to describe the way they are being treated, even if there is no truth to this. (That is not to say that sometimes there really is racism or sexism in some instances; this is just used as an example.)

Hurt people have a hard time entering into a trusting relationship.

Hurt people often carry around a suspicious spirit.

5. Hurt people often alienate others and wonder why no one is there for them

They often continually hurt the ones they love and need the most with their self-destructive behavior.

6. Hurt people have the emotional maturity of the age they received their (un-dealt with) hurt 

For example, if a girl was raped by a man when she was 12 years old, unless she forgives that man and allows Christ to heal her heart and allay her fears, in that particular area of her life (sexuality with a man) her emotional growth will stop; even when she reaches her later years she may still have the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old. 

7. Hurt people are often frustrated and depressed because past pain continually spills over into their present consciousness

In many instances, they may not even be aware of why they are continually frustrated or depressed because they have coped with pain by compartmentalizing it or layering it over with other things over time.

 8. Hurt people often erupt with inappropriate emotion because particular words, actions or circumstances "touch" and "trigger" past woundedness

I have been in situations with people in which there was a gross overreaction to a word I spoke or an action that was taken. Although I was shocked and thought this reaction came "out of left field" it was really the person responding to an accumulation of years of hurt and pain that could not help but spill over in various situations.

I myself have been in situations where I felt hurt, troubled or overreacted to something because it touched a nerve with what I was still dealing with due to a wound I received in the past. In these situations I have attempted to reason through the situation as objectively as I can with much prayer and introspection so I would not say or do anything damaging to another person or myself.

 9. Hurt people often occupy themselves with busyness, work, performance and/or accomplishments as a way of compensating for low self-esteem

Often ministers are not motivated by a love for Jesus but a drive to accomplish.

It is important that pastors and ministers be led by the Spirit instead of being driven to succeed.

A minister should not preoccupy himself with making things happen. He or she should walk in integrity and humility and allow God to open up doors and provide a ministerial platform according to their assignment for their life and ministry.

10. Hurt people often attempt to medicate themselves with excessive entertainment, drugs, alcohol, pornography, sexual relationships or hobbies as a way to forget their pain and run from reality

Until the church learns to deal with and emphasize the emotional life and health of the believer, the church will be filled with "half-Christians" who pray and read the Bible but find no victory because they do not face the woundedness in their souls.

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