Like most really important things, this is much easier to list than to actually do, and as much as I firmly believe that we must always strive to do our part and take responsibility for our actions and our feelings, I also think that in life some things are so painful and tragic that only God can bring healing. He is the great physician of the heart, after all.
So proceed lightly, and don’t beat yourself up. God cares about you and your feelings.
Disclaimer: These are not clinically proven. As a matter of fact, I am still in the process of testing them.
1. Be honest. Ignoring your feelings isn’t the road to freedom. If someone hurt your feelings, that matters. Pay attention to your heart.
2. Talk about it (sometimes). Communication is mostly good. I completely believe that in close relationships you should be able to share your feelings. But what about when the kid in front of you in chemistry says something mean? Should you sit down and have a heart to heart with him about how his careless words pierced you. Probably not. Those kinds of talks should be in the context of relationships where you already know you are cared about and loved by the other person. And if the kid in chemistry keeps being mean, that’s bullying, so you should probably talk to a parent, friend, or teacher.
3. Get perspective. Stand back and try to see a bigger picture. Once you’ve been honest, talked with the person (or to someone you trust), then step back and take a look at it all. Was this the first time this person hurt you? Do they have a pattern? Were there extenuating circumstances? Just realize that there’s always more to a story than we might see at first glance, and some perspective can help to wash the hurt away.
4. Find the positive. There’s got to be something good about them, right? Try to think on those things and not what they did that hurt you.
5. Hate the sin. I have a tendency to negate wrongs done to me without ever acknowledging them. It’s a defense mechanism that worked for me … for a while. But with time, this damages your identity. Some things are NOT okay, and pretending like it doesn’t hurt (see number one) or dismissing the other person’s actions with “Oh, he didn’t mean that” or “I’m sure they were just doing what they thought was best” doesn’t help anyone. It’s okay to hate sin. Lying. Cruel Words, bitterness—those are wrong. Ignoring that fact won’t help you love the offender any faster.
6. Remove your halo. Maybe you did nothing to invite the wrong done to you. Maybe you just walked in and sat down. But you’re not perfect. It’s good to remind ourselves that although we might never treat someone like that, we have done our own wrongs. The ground is level, folks.
7. Take time. Some things only get better with time. Presently, I’m still struggling with a particular wrong done to me (hence this post). I actually started several other posts (How to Let go of Wrongs Done to YOU and How to NOT Let go of Wrongs Done to you), and I realized I still have a ways to go. Time really does help hurting hearts.
8. Be Aware of Your Boundaries. If you are struggling to love the other person, don’t keep throwing yourself into contact with them. Even if you’re married and it’s your spouse who’s in the dog house, it’s okay to say, “I need some distance.” Of course, you need to let your spouse know when you will be emotionally available again. (Boundaries are never to punish, btw.)
9. Give them jellybeans. My mom told me this story when I was in junior high about this girl who kept getting teased by some kids at school. The girl’s mom gave her jellybeans and told her to give them to the other children, even the mean ones. The girl thought this was a crazy idea, and when the mean kids threw her jellybeans down, she was sure her mom would understand how nutty it was. But nope. Her mom gave her more jellybeans. Eventually, the other kids softened a bit. It’s the old turn-the-other-cheek. (For more on this one, see Jesus!)
10. Pray always. Now in my situation, I’ve been praying for this other person, and it’s still slow going. Of course maybe that has something to do with my prayers…”Lord, show her how wrong she’s been.” Maybe I can do better than that. God wants the best for both of us. His love runs deep.
What would you add to the list? How do you love someone who’s hurt your heart? Got any thoughts to add to the Saturday Slant?