The Art College Archives, circa 2009
I think we can all agree that a broken heart or being hurt is one of the most difficult things to work through and work it does take. I also believe it is one of those things that is unavoidable and at some stage a form of hurt will come our way, whether it be intentional or not. I would like to write about what I have particularly learned and pondered this year. I want to share what the experiences have taught me and I want to discuss some thoughts for both those who have been hurt and for those who have done the hurting. Through all this, I want to convey a humble, compassionate deposition and hope it doesn’t come across any another way. So here are a few things to note about when the heart is healing….
When I am hurt…
- Its hard to forgive. Forgiveness is a word that we can make into some fluffy feel-good notion. However, it is anything but. In fact, it is a very strong word with a power to change lives. To the one who has been forgiven it is sweet and can soothe the deepest of wounds. To the one who has to forgive, it can be the same but it also comes with great strength and effort. It is not as easy as verbalising the word like it is some magic spell and all will go back to being right. You might have to choose to forgive someone (or yourself) over and over again until one day the pain is starting to subside a little. You may not ever hear the words ‘I am sorry’ and yet still have to come to a decision whether to forgive or not, in spite of not receiving any recognition of wrongdoing. This is a tricky one and requires an intentional effort to not keep those record of wrongs that could so easily fester in our hearts. At the end of the day, we have to make the choice whether we want to give this person or circumstance the hold on our lives and make us bitter. Or we can decide to forgive in our hearts, thoughts and actions and allow our wounds to be healed and not infected with resentment or thoughts of revenge. I suppose another difficult situation that is tough to forgive is when we have been hurt by others and when it actually isn’t our fault…
- Its not my fault. It comes natural to us to think that we are the victim and the other party is solely responsible for any pain caused. Therefore we need to really examine our actions (including our motives) with the same lens that we focus on the other person. However, there are those times when you are in no way responsible for the blow that hits you; of which happened to me recently. Again, it goes back to the word ‘forgiveness’ and asking what does it really look like or what does it really take? Are the boundaries for my forgiving and loving others conditional? Sure, we may not have deserved to be treated in such a way but it is no healthy road taking the one filled with resentment. We may wish that they would get what’s coming to them and pay for what they did. But this has no room in forgiveness and simply put, it’s one of the most difficult things to get on with. That being said, I really do believe that no one gets away with anything. It may appear as if they are loving life, but if they intentional in hurting or just too selfish to consider others, then they can’t be at total peace with themselves. I think that God can make known these convictions and we just have to trust that He will be at work in it and it isnt our place to interfere with that sometimes. You need only to be still, the Lord will fight for you. Exodus 14.14 and He will fight for what is right, whatever your opinion of what that may look like may be.
- Its hard to accept. You can spend many hours invested into over thinking ( perhaps you are the opposite and try to mentally brush everything under a rug) But there comes a time when you simply have to accept that what happened wasn’t right but you cannot change people or you cannot fix all the circumstances either. Our situations cannot be fully understood sometimes. I might not be able to comprehend or work it out in my head why so and so treated me in such a way but I will have to accept that it happened and not dwell on it. All easier said then done.
- Who do I tell? Sometimes a hurt can be overhelming or just plain confusing, and we need an outside perspective. Sometimes you might feel isolated in who to talk to because you have mutual friends with the offending party. I was really fortunate that I had people come to me and pour into my life with wise words. My eyes were opened up to some things that I wasn’t so sure about. I would definately encourage to seek people you can trust to confide in and be honest with. There may be the temptation to update your facebook status and tell the world how so and so has treated you. But this is exactly the opposite of healing. Hurt doesn’t even out with more hurt.
- You have to see them. It may be uncomfortable to be around someone who has hurt you but I guess there are some situations we cannot control, and banishing an individual forever out of existence isn’t an option. It is important to relieve the pressure that says you have to still hang around them. However, when we do have to be around them, I believe that saturating ourselves with compassionate and empathetic thoughts about that person will aid in the process of healing. I try to imagine the circumstances they are in or why they might tick in the way that they do. Sometimes this is beyond understanding but it will help in viewing that person as a human with goods and faults, and less of the monster you can create in your head. It can be difficult if you feel like they can be ‘two-faced’ amoungst your peers but you can have no regret when you treat someone with respect, in and out of their presence.
- When you move on. As I said before, you have the choice to allow this experience to strengthen or cripple you, for a time or even for the rest of your life. How you react internally and externally will define how quickly or slowly you heal from it. But oh how sweet the day can be when the feelings of forgiving align up with everything else and you are freed from those burdens. How beautiful that relationship can be with that person when we have experienced a little of how God has bestowed grace and forgiveness upon us when we didn’t deserve it! How about the verses in Matthew 18 where Jesus is asked about forgiving and he replies with an abundance of grace for one another. The love chapter is quoted so much at weddings ( 1Corinthians 13) and it states that love keeps no record of wrongs! Makes us question as to whether we really love that person! And thats how God loves, with no record of wrongs, when we seek His forgiveness. He has the power to make ‘beauty from ashes’ ( Isaiah 61), from all of our chaos and mistakes we make. He has the power to heal us from the deepest of wounds!
I’m sure there is much more that could be written and hope you can relate or add insight to these few points. I think a lot of it still applies to those who have done the hurting ( which I can raise my hand to that one too!) but here are just a few more things to note about that.
When I’ve hurt someone…
1. Be honest. As someone who has hurt others and who has experienced being hurt, it is absolutely necessary to be completely honest. You must be honest with yourself and with others. When you ask for forgiveness, verbalise your wrongdoings because believe me, the person you have hurt (as well as yourself) can see right through the excuses you might be tempted to make. It doesn’t heal effectively and your dishonesty will actually hurt you the most in the end. No matter how good an actor or person of peruasion you may think you are, it just won’t work when seeking the forgiveness of others. It is tough to ask forgiveness and it is humblng, so the opportunity to cover up and make yourself look good is tempting but in the end, you look worse off because you look like a coward. The truth is freeing and it may not make things better immediately but it is always the correct choice to make.
2.Forgive yourself. Sounds lame perhaps but I have been there. You blame yourself and are ashamed of your selfish actions so you keep yourself in a place that plays those moments over and over in your head. You think that if you spend enough time in this type of purgatory then everything will be alright. But that person may not choose to forgive you ( only hurting themselves!) and they in fact, may want to hold you in that place too. I’ll never forget when I did something that brought pain to another and even months later, they admitted that the things they were doing were an attempt to keep making me feel bad. That was someone who struggled with forgiving, but I wasn’t responsible for their response. I had to remind myself that I sought forgiveness and that God had forgiven me, which was the most important of all.
3. Accept the change. You are only in control of your actions and not the reactions of others. You have to accept that that relationship might not ever be the same, and perhaps a time of mourning so to speak may have to take place. Sometimes however, a relationship can be stronger because its foundation is built on complete trust and a deeper sense of the word, love. Whatever way it now goes, give time and space for that to happen and learn from it all so that you don’t repeat that pattern to others!
And lastly, look to this wonderful example and remind yourself often that :
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving even though we have rebelled against him. Daniel 9.9