The Hurt Map

The hurt map is the topography of all your pain. It is a panoramic picture of a lifetime of accumulated grief, loss, sadness, weakness, fear, and anger. Besides valleys of despair are vast deserts of loneliness. Whitewater rapids of confusion swirl next to steep ravines of disappointment. Dead-end trails of frustration wind through forests of conflict. And mountains of fear dominate the landscape.

You flash back to your hurt map every time you encounter a similar geographical feature in real life. If you walk into a forest, you're taken into the forest of your hurt map. You're instantly transported to a place of conflict. You sniff the tension in the air, hear dead leaves crunching under your feet, and watch the trees pressing in. You don't choose to remember the hurt map - it just happens. Whatever feature the forest had in real life disappears and the forest of your hurt map becomes the bigger reality. And you fight or flee from that place of pain. 

Each person has his own unique hurt map. No two people possess the exact same set of geographical features. Some maps are just one long mountain range of fear. Others wander a seemingly endless desert. A few have a diverse and varied terrain. But everyone has their own individual composite image of pain.

And yet every person has a rudimentary understanding of another's hurt map. The hurt map is the basis of relationship. Anyone with a valley, no matter how deep or shallow, understands despair. Anyone with a dead-end trail, no matter how long or short, understands frustration. The hurt map is a persistent ache for connection.

Jesus is intimately familiar with your hurt map. He knows the terrain. He has walked every valley. He has climbed every peak. He has negotiated confusion. He has weathered disappointment. Jesus knows the contours of your pain so well because his hurt map encompasses every possible feature of pain, fear, and weakness imaginable. His hurt map carries the sorrow of every person's map. Where our fears summit, his peaks stand higher. Where our despair reach their lowest, his valleys dip lower. Where disappointment steepens, his ravines are steeper. And his abyss of betrayal - its depths cannot be plumbed. Every hurt we've experienced, he went there first. He even went into death and came out the other side.

Healing from the hurt map is not removing the map's features. Jesus doesn't take anything out. He walks with us through the topography of pain and makes each feature beautiful. The forest is no longer a place of pain but refuge. Because in that moment, he came close. The hurt map is an invitation to journey with the savior. 

So when you enter a forest, you may go flashback to your hurt map's forest but it's no longer the same place. You're no longer alone. The Savior is present beside you. Instead of tension, you whiff the fragrance of victory. In place of ominous footsteps, you're soothed by the shepherd's voice. And the surrounding trees shrink back as he draws your hand into his.

So give him your hurt map and let him guide you through pain into beauty. For it is in the wilderness of sorrow that Jesus finds you.

Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.


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