I learned something this year that I wish I’d known a lot sooner. After my conversion 40 years ago, I was taught that God will forgive sin and relieve the guilt that comes from our missteps after we repent. And I also discovered some time ago that He’d heal my painful memories from the past as I forgave those who hurt me.
But when someone says something that hurts my feelings now, I’ve struggled with how to react. My first defensive reaction has been to either get angry or just “suck it up” and stuff my feelings. But neither one really worked to lose those painful feelings and freely forgive.
About three months ago, someone said something a little negative about me in a public discussion that came out of the blue, and it really stung. I didn’t react there, but when I went home, I got on my knees and just said to the Lord, “That really hurt – please help me.” I took a page from psychologists and sent the Lord an “I message” – just describing my feelings but not the other person. Immediately, the pain went away! And then the Lord showed me why that person said what they did and why they were hurting. My feelings of being put down and made small immediately changed to understanding, even empathy. That was a light bulb moment and truly liberating – why hadn’t I tried that long ago?
Since then I’ve practiced this with both big and small hurts. It’s worked every time! My wounded feelings have been healed quickly, then I was guided on how to handle the situation. Sometimes it helps to say something to the person, giving an “I Message” describing my feelings to the other person without accusation. Other times, I let it go, realizing we all have to pick our battles and this isn’t one I need to tackle. Occasionally, a hurtful interaction gives me a necessary signal that I need to change my boundaries with this person or group of people.
I’ve learned we have a stewardship over how we protect and care for ourselves, not in a selfish way, but so we can continue to serve others and be productive. Just as the Lord is mindful of how we treat others, He also cares about our vulnerable side and is lovingly protective. I’ve been amazed to receive clear guidance that I need to take a step back from a relationship – when “irreconcilable differences” have emerged and after I’ve given it my best effort. Much as we want to create connection, not everyone is committed to healthy relationships, and it’s not our fault!
I love the hymn, There is a Balm in Gilead – its lyrics speak to me:
- There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
- Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
The keys to accessing this divine balm are being willing to recognize and repent for our part in a problem interaction, not indulging in any hateful behavior in response to another, and being really humble about what is the best, most god-like way to act in the future.
The Lord has truly “revived my soul” and made my “wounded self whole” and I stand all amazed! I hope you find that peace and healing yourself.
Click HERE for an interesting Biblical discussion on God’s healing grace.