Everyone has experienced the pain of hurt in relationships. There is a common expression we hear that says that these experiences will cause us to become bitter or better; it’s true. It takes effort to deal with the wounds, or hurts, we have suffered and come out better afterwards. The journey can be long for some; it often depends on the soul-care you receive along the way, as well as the openness of your heart to surrender to the Father’s will for you. I know that it is difficult for some because of past experience, loss of trust, but God is faithful. Are you willing to trust Him to help you?
In my biblical counseling studies, I came across three common ways that people tend to deal with emotional pain in their lives.
1) We can Internalize
When we take in pain and repress what we feel from another’s actions toward us, it will inevitably produce bitterness within our heart. These stored up feelings inside the reservoir of our heart (our soul) builds up and will at some point explode. No person can contain the growing, ever increasing, and changing life that hurt harbored will produce. Bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness will break us down emotionally and physically.
Because of God’s love for us, He will not allow this to continue forever. He will bring situations to us that will press upon this sore spot in order for us decide to deal with it. Many attempts to cover the wound with poor remedies will only produce various addictions — habitually applying poor solutions to our pain. God offers a solution, a way out; it involves humility and forgiveness, a better way than internalizing pain.
2) We can retaliate
Here we consider who wronged us and the price we will exact from them for the hurt they caused. Retaliation is a vicious circle of pain and misery. No matter how much is hurled back at the offender or others by proxy, it will never satisfy. Eventually, those who choose retaliation as their method of dealing with pain, turn into offenders themselves. They become like the very one whom they have despised so fiercely.
3) We can Forgive
Forgiveness is the only way to overcome hurt in our lives. It requires our choosing to do so. Extending forgiveness is painful, but this kind of pain reaps many benefits for everyone involved. It will cost you everything it seems, to forgive.
The possibility of true and lasting forgiveness exists for those who have come to know the forgiveness God has offered to us. Those who follow Christ, our supreme example, are given the power by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit to forgive others. While this may seem impossible initially, with God’s help, and perhaps that of godly counselors, we can find this place of release from our past. Jesus is our greatest example of one who forgave (Luke 23:34).
It is an act of your will to forgive. When you move in the process of saying, “I can’t” to opening the door of possibility to realizing, “I won’t”, you will begin your journey to being able to consider what God may be doing through your pain. You can arrive at the place of, “I will” and open your heart to God.
By forgiving we release the offender into God’s Hands (and possibility civil authorities) for justice to be served and consequences to be walked through. God is the only One who can rightly deal with any of us. He is the rightful authority over all of life; each life was created by Him. He has set in order by His Word (the Bible) how we are to handle the situations we face, and we are responsible to deal with ourselves and allow God to deal with others as He sees fit.
Fear can keep us from forgiving based upon false assumptions. We can fear that if we forgive we have to return to an abusive situation, or that we must reconcile with an unchanged person. This journey involves steps; please do not let fear keep you from taking the first step. God will be faithful to you, as He has been to me and many others, but you must trust Him.
It costs us something to surrender in this way, but it is the only way to lasting freedom. Do it for yourself first and eventually you will also find joy in giving your gift to others. God can give you great hope and purpose, and use you as an instrument of His love to others, even your enemies.
 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…
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