by Leigh Ann Dilley on May 19, 2021
It’s inevitable; at some point in time, someone will say something or do something that hurts our feelings and causes us emotional pain. We have all experienced being spoken to harshly or unkindly; and likely we have experienced being unjustly criticized or blamed for something we did not do. Our natural instincts are to respond in a defensive manner to protect and justify ourselves. It is easy to become angry and deflect blame onto someone or something else, most likely the person who hurt us in the first place. What should the proper response be?
As Christ followers, we are trained to take our pain to Jesus. Ask Him first, to search our heart and show us if we had any responsibility for causing this pain. It is appropriate to examine your own behavior first. Is there something in our behavior or our attitude that allowed this to occur? Especially, if we are easily offended or inflicted with emotional pain by others often, could it be God is trying to teach us something about our behavior that needs transformation or renewal? Perhaps there is something about the past that has programed us to internalize and personalize experiences more than we need to, making us overly sensitive. Past experiences and behaviors aren’t necessarily bad things, but it’s good to be aware of them, because they can influence how we process present experiences and information.
Jesus is not into shaming us, so let’s not be afraid to allow him to examine our hearts and show us the truth. Share the pain with Him. If we need correction or guidance, He will let us know. The process is called conviction. Jesus will convict us of any wrongdoing. Conviction is not meant to hurt or shame us. It is meant to help us grow and to heal. Ask Jesus to reveal the truth in what happened to you and why. If you have done something inappropriate to bring on a critical response from another, confess it first to Jesus and then to others, if necessary. After all, confession is a love language. Confession is defined as “owning up to something that we know.” A relationship has a better chance of moving forward, when confession for misconduct is given.
After examining ourselves, with the help of Jesus, we are ready to form an appropriate response. Whereas we are not responsible for the other person’s actions, we are responsible for our own. Our primary purpose, as a Christ follower, should always be to bring glory to God by letting love lead us. The way we respond could change the outcome of the entire experience. It could be a powerful testimony to the person who brought us pain. Remove anger, fear and offense, and allow truth and love to prevail as gently as possible, while working toward peace.
What if confession never comes? You may never get an apology from someone who hurt you. Again, take your pain to Jesus. He may give you a perspective you have not considered. Praying for this person, as difficult as it may be, will help you see things from their perspective. Prayer is a powerful thing, it can change people. Do your best to forgive. Remember, forgiveness is primarily for our relationship with God. Matt 18:22 says to forgive 70x7!
Finally, choose not to offend easily. Most people are basically good. Likely, they did not intend to hurt you. Choose to associate with people who are good and limit exposure to those who are not. Proverbs 27:6 You can trust what your friend says, even when it hurts. But your enemies want to hurt you, even when they act nice. Proverbs 12:18-19 Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.
Look for the truth.