Not only do hurting people hurt others, but they are also easily hurt by others. My friend Kevin Myers illustrates it this way. If someone has a splinter in his finger and he allows it to remain there, his finger becomes swollen and infected.
Then if another person barely brushes against it, the individual howls with pain and says, “You hurt me!” But the reality is that the problem isn’t with the person who innocently bumped the finger. It’s with the person who has the splinter but has neglected to address the injury.
Emotional pain works in a similar way. Hurting people overreact, overexaggerate, and overprotect. They also overinfluence. By that I mean they control the relationship. That was the case with Tom. The old wound was his unresolved conflict with a previous pastor.
He had never removed the “splinter” so that it could heal. And because he was hurting, he prevented our relationship from growing for seven years. That’s always the way: relationships are held back by the less healthy person.
As you interact with others, remember this: anytime a person’s response is larger than the issue at hand, the response is almost always about something else.
John C. Maxwell, Winning with People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).