Stuck. We all know people that have gotten stuck, not able to move beyond what happened in the past. You can quickly recognize these people by the stories they tell themselves and anyone else who will listen.
I think of the young man I knew who thought he was destined for a career in football, but he blew out his knee in college. He never got over it, never finished his degree, and to this day talks about his injury, the surgeries he endured and the rehab he went through as if it were yesterday instead of ten years ago.
I think of the woman whose husband cheated on her and went through a very public divorce. Twenty years later, her ex-husband has moved on from the shame and disgrace of it all and has sought in every possible way to make amends, while she still picks at the bones of hurt, jealousy, and rage.
I also think of the man whose business partner (someone he mentored) talked his own board into firing him and making his partner the head of the company. It was a horrible ordeal. Yet, while he should be enjoying retirement and precious time with his family, he is nursing old wounds.
Consider some of the synonyms for the word stuck– fixed, fastened, glued or pinned. The persons and situations I mentioned above are examples of people who are stuck. Fixed to their pain and hurt. Fastened tightly to the stories they believe will forever defined them. Glued to a narrative they believe cannot change. Pinned to the past, not able to imagine or believe there is a possibility for change and new possibilities ahead.
When we are stuck, we cannot look ahead to the future. We cannot see the road of possibility and redemption ahead, because we are too fixated on looking in the rear view mirror. Churches can also greatly suffer from this malady of being stuck.
Christian speaker and author Tim Storey names it as the “nurse it, curse it, and rehearse it” syndrome. He wisely says that people are stuck in a moment from their past by their inability to go back and “fix” the situation. That’s when they “nurse it, curse it and rehearse it.”
Recently, I have noticed how many churches are stuck in a “nurse it, curse it and rehearse it” cycle. Their conversations center on the past, nursing a past hurt, conflict or unfortunate set of circumstances. They curse the situations they believe have been and will continue to be the source of all of their disappointments and challenges. Paralyzed by the past, they continue to rehearse the stories of pain, suffering, hurt, disappointment, failure, and regret.
Please don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for “nursing” our wounds. Yet, there is also a time and place to embrace the healing grace of God and to begin to see and accept this does not have to be the rest of the story. The good news we celebrate, especially in this Easter season, is the resurrection. It reminds us that whatever we are dealing with, this is not the end of the story.
We do not have to be stuck in a moment. The truth is that none of us can go back and fix a situation in the past. However, we can move forward if we are able to live in the possibility of the now and the hope of the not yet. This is what it means to be Easter people and to be people of the resurrection. It is trusting in the resurrection promise that God is not finished with us yet.
There is more to our stories God is waiting to write. We can become unstuck when we let go of the past and reach for the future God has in store for us. And when we do, we are able to seek God’s strength and guidance in moving us beyond the pain, suffering, hurt, disappointment, failure and regret. We can move forward to the hope, healing and the beauty of new beginnings.