How NOT to Handle Hurt
What do you do when someone hurts you?
This is the hard stuff of life, isn’t it?
Maybe they talked behind your back. Or worse, stabbed you in the back.
Maybe they hurled insults at you, called you names, or questioned your motives. Maybe they judged you wrongly or ignored you completely.
The truth is hurt hurts.
Which means hurt is hard to handle in a holy way.
Let’s be honest: when we’ve been hurt, our natural inclination is to respond in hurt with the intent to hurt. Some of us lash out while others of us check out.
But is this the best way to handle hurt? We know it’s not.
So what do we do instead?
Many years ago, my pastor/hubby, JP showed me by example.
JP had experienced deep church hurt, the kind where power and church politics trump grace and truth. Like a mama bear (except, a wife bear) I was determined to protect my loved one. What they did to him, I longed to do to them-if not publicly, privately, in my head and in my home.
I’d vent, rant, and do all the usual things women do when they, or someone they love, has been hurt. Wisely, behind closed doors, JP let me vent. I think he knew I’d explode if I didn’t talk to someone about the hurt.
Except one evening, during a particularly emotional rant, I paused to notice JP wasn’t joining my private vent party. In retrospect, I now realize I possessed the unfortunate talent of turning a “vent” into an event. There’s a fine line between expressing feelings (which is healthy) and vomiting feelings (which makes everyone, including us, feel worse).
How do we know if we’re expressing our feelings versus vomiting our feelings?
When we express our feelings we talk openly to the right person in the right way, which makes us more spiritually and emotionally healthy. When we vomit our feelings we talk negatively to the wrong person in a toxic way, which makes us more spiritually sick.
Suddenly, in the middle of my emotional vomit, I realized JP never joined my party.
And you know what? That made me mad.
I wanted him to join my pitiful little 24/7 “It’s not right! It’s not fair!” banquet of pain. But he wouldn’t.
“Why don’t you ever say anything bad about those people? They treated you horribly!”
“Donna, do you know who can live in (experience) the presence of the Lord?”
JP opened his Bible and read me Psalm 15; a mere five short verses that outline who can dwell in the presence of God.
Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever. (Psalm 15 NLT)
After reading these words, JP directed my attention to verses 1-3, and the last line of verse 4.
“Donna, I’m not responsible for their relationship with God. That’s on them. But I am responsible for mine.”
“If I want to stay in fellowship with God then I must do what’s right, even when others don’t. I must refuse to gossip or speak badly about others, despite what anyone else says or does. I must keep my promises even when it hurts.” (v 4).
And then, JP said something that changed the way I think about hurt. And being wronged. And pain.
“You can be a leader without being spiritual. But you can’t be a spiritual leader without being spiritual.”
Isn’t this precisely what Jesus modeled for us?
Integrity. Righteousness. Refusal to speak evil.
Even when it hurt.
But maybe you’re thinking, I’m not a spiritual leader, so I guess I’m off the hook.
Oh, but you are a spiritual leader if you call yourself a Christian!
Do you have kids or grandkids? If so, you’re a spiritual leader.
Are you the only Christian in your family, at work, or in your neighborhood? If so, you’re a spiritual leader.
Do you serve at church or volunteer in any capacity, anywhere? If so, you’re a spiritual leader.
Does anyone look up to you? Consider you a mentor? Follow your example? If so, you’re a spiritual leader.
If we know Jesus we are spiritual leaders.
Still, the fact remains; Hurt hurts. Choosing to do what’s right even if others don’t doesn’t take away the pain (it didn’t for Jesus). We’ll be disappointed if we think it will.
No, following God’s way doesn’t always take away the pain. But it does take away the regret.
And it does something more: it keeps us close to Christ and it makes us usable to God.
Over the years I haven’t always handled hurt the right way. Like most women, I have regrets. In fact, I’d love a few do-overs.
But I do know that the hurt that can separate me from people doesn’t have to separate me from God. When handled in a healthy, holy way, hurt can drive me to depend on God, obey His Word, and enter into His holy presence.
Even when it hurts.
You are loved,
And, you can listen to her weekly podcast, That’s Just What I Needed, everywhere you find podcasts–Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser, and more!
More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.