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You Have Hurt Me

You Have Hurt Me

These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night. Genesis 31:41-42

You’ve wrecked my life. This was what my wife said to me when I told her that I was losing my job because of my addiction. She explained that I’d shattered her trust in me and that I’d destroyed her security and stability. I’d embarrassed her in front of the entire world, and I’d upended her life. As gut wrenching as it was to hear, I needed to hear it. In my drug use, I thought of only myself. If I wanted to find recovery, I had to begin to consider how my actions impacted her. It was miserable, but I needed her to establish boundaries. I won’t live like this and I won’t put the kids through this. You cannot use drugs and have us in your life. 

Though it may be uncomfortable to do so, it’s often necessary for a victim to express exactly how their loved one’s self-destructive behavior has affected them. You’ve hurt me. This is what happened in today’s passage when Jacob and his family fled from his uncle Laban. Realizing they’d left, Laban pursued with evil intent, but then God appeared to Laban in a dream, warning him not to harm Jacob. Still, Laban caught up and voiced his displeasure at their departure, at which point Jacob unloaded years of frustration. You’ve cheated me for 20 years and if you had your way, I’d be destitute and alone. I’m leaving you and I’m taking my family with me. Perhaps Jacob should have addressed it sooner, but it needed to be said. Laban was treacherous and his behavior was profoundly hurtful to Jacob and his family.

Most of us avoid confrontation, failing to adequately express how our loved ones have hurt us. When we finally let it out, it’s often only out of pent-up rage, which is usually unhelpful. We may not be able to force anyone to change, but for our own health and for that of the offender, we may need to carefully articulate exactly how his (or her) behavior has hurt us. We will likely need to have a specific plan in place if he is willing to get help. Finally, we may need to protect ourselves, establishing boundaries if our loved one refuses change. It may be difficult but it’s not judgmental or selfish to communicate the hurt that others have caused us, or to establish boundaries to protect ourselves. 

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