When Your Feelings Are Hurt
Can you think of the last time you felt hurt by someone else’s actions or words? Was it a sarcastic remark made about you that you first laughed about, but later went on becoming frustrated over? Maybe a loved one, friend, or someone you look up to purposefully said some painful weighty things, excluded you, or intentionally tried to bring you pain? I’m sure you can relate to all of the mixed emotions of frustration that came along with that hurt. But do you recall how you responded in that situation?
Growing up in a trailer park with an awkward personality and braces, I felt like a great big target to be picked on. To be honest, I can tell you I rarely responded the right way. I took things personally, letting my feelings get the best of me. Leaving me with detrimental unforgiveness or keeping me in a dark position of isolation and insecurity. Feelings are real and God-given, but if we aren't careful with how we guide them they can end up consuming us and destroying a lot of beautiful things in our lives.
Unfortunately, because of sin, pain is present in this world where broken people hurt each other- whether it is intentional or not. Praise God that He defeated our sin and made a way through His Son for there to no longer be pain or suffering when we enter Heaven (Revelation 21:4). While we may face pain here on earth, because of the hope we have in Christ- we can and are called to respond differently.
Run to God First
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NLT)
We can rejoice knowing that we are not alone and we have the true comforter to come to. Instead of running to others just to vent, we can run to our Father who is the source of all comfort. When we experience pain it is important to not let it linger but to face it by bringing it to our loving Father and receive His comfort, healing, and strength.
As we come to the Lord we should dig deep and ask Him to search our heart and reveal why this situation has brought us such pain. Though we may feel discouraged, we can remind ourselves that we are not defined by the words of man but by the work of Christ. Understanding that what God has accomplished through Christ on the cross is eternal, where the opinion of man will fade. As we rest in the word of God, we find truth in who we are in Him not what man may say we are.
Guard your heart
As we run fast into the Father’s arms to receive healing, we should be intentional with guarding our heart moving forward. What do I mean by guarding your heart? The word of God shows us in Proverbs 4:23, that everything you do flows from your heart (NIV). Therefore, it is important to protect ourselves from allowing unforgiveness, offense, or resentment to creep its way into our heart and spew out onto the lives of those around us. Failing to protect our hearts not only hinders us from glorifying God but it also continues the pattern of hurting others.
As difficult as it may be, I encourage you to not dwell upon the negative past but to set your focus upon how good the Lord is. Though it may not be easy to quickly trust or forgive a person who may have hurt you so soon, do not let your heart become bitter. Protect your heart by setting boundaries, but do not set up walls. You may not be able to be best friends with this person, but do not completely cut them off in hate. Put these things behind you and look forward to Christ and what he has called you to (Philippians 3:13).
Respond in Love
Although you have no control over how people treat you, you still have control in how you respond. Instead of responding negatively in anger and frustration (which would end up validating their actions towards you and continuing the cycle of inflicting pain upon others) be productive and intentional with your response.
When we truly understand that Christ has forgiven us so much, we should eagerly want to extend this same forgiveness to others. Just as Jesus instructions us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), we should step back from our pain and lift them up in prayer. What are they personally going through that may have caused them to hurt you? Instead of stewing in anger or sulking in depression, we can step forward in prayer asking God to reveal himself to them and change their heart. After going before the Lord in prayer, have a conversation with the person who hurt you. With grace and truth find reconciliation so that your relationship is strengthened instead of divided.
Responding to a hurt incorrectly can hold you back and take your eyes off of the Lord, but you do not have to choose this route. You can allow God to reveal truth and give you strength to respond in forgiveness and love. Though hurt can bring discouragement, God can take all things and use it for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). By surrendering pain over to the true comforter, He can bring healing, refining, and dependence upon him. As you depend on the Holy Spirit to work through you and reflect the love of Jesus, you will extend the heart of Christ to others, defeating what could have been used against you.