Bitter or Better?
Have you ever felt deeply hurt by someone else's words? I know ... dumb question. It's part of the human condition and we've all been there.
Perhaps the verbal bite came from a source we never expected. Maybe our pain was, or is being, caused by someone we thought was our friend, or from a teacher or employer, or maybe even a close relative. Perhaps we heard something scathing, but it came via another person.
(Personally, if something hurtful comes through a third party, my go-to thought is, "Hey! I don't care if you talk about me. Just keep it behind my back!")
It doesn't really matter when or how we've heard it. It's found it's way to our ears and we will never be able to "un-hear" it again, so ... now comes our reaction.
If you're anything like me, I initially reel from the verbal slap and then, almost immediately, my anger flares. "Well -- I never!" I can hear my indignant self say, as I begin mulling it over and over and sometimes ... over ... in my mind.
Incidentally, today I'm not writing about biting comments that hold validity - coming from people who we've hurt and who may need an apology from us. That's another whole situation that, I'll admit, I have ashamedly had too much experience with, as well.
Today I'm writing about the times we've been stung unjustifiably. We've heard it, felt it and perhaps tried to communicate with our offender, but that has not yielded peace. So, we find ourselves with a choice to make:
We can sit and stew about it until our anger dissipates (which might take a lengthy time) OR we can pray about it and let it go.
Oh how easy it is to write, read, hear and say, "Let go and let God." Yea ... I'll admit again - that's not my first response. In fact, this can be very difficult, especially if the arrows keep flying.
I've prayed much about writing this, but here's my full disclosure: I have someone in my life who I can't leave behind, but who consistently enjoys hurting me. Praying absolutely helps, and I try to remember that the "pray without ceasing" verse was written for a reason. But just when I think I'm at peace, it happens again and up comes the hurt like a bad meal repeating on itself. This often feels overwhelming, but there's nothing I can do about the actions of the other person. I know my only option is to try to let it go and let God take it from off my shoulders. Again. And again.
I'm not writing this for sympathy. I'm admitting this because I think others may have this same issue in their lives and I want you to know that you're not alone.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (ESV)
NOTE: It says to forgive one another, but it says nothing about the other person having to come to us and ask for it. I noticed that too. Drat!
If this helps, I ask myself:
1. Am I going to become bitter? I could aim passive-aggressive insults at that person too, or be equally as spiteful. I could allow my mind to stew and simmer on every hurtful remark and action that person aims at me. A pity party could be fun for awhile ... OR
2. Am I going to make the choice to forgive them and keep moving forward?
In case you're feeling wary about this option: trust me. It works! It's difficult, and it may even feel redundant, but it works!
The first response will make us bitter. The second makes life so much better!
If you want to read about someone who was treated horribly by his own family, but gave glory to God because of it, read chapters 37-50 in Genesis. Joseph was a man who had every reason, but refused, to be bitter. Instead, he chose to forgive and then rose up to become so much better!
Remember: If you're His child, God holds you in His mighty hand and He'll never let you go!
Like always, if you need prayer for anything specific, please feel free to send me a message. As always, I keep these in strictest confidence. God bless you!
Have a great rest of January! And to all my Canadian friends ... don't freeze.