A few weeks ago I attended a woman’s conference where speaker and author Martha Peace spoke on the topic of hurt feelings. I found it be extremely informative and helpful. The following is a summary of what she talked about:
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There are two types of hurts that cause us to have hurt feelings- intentional hurts and unintentional (or perceived) hurts. Intentional hurts are when another person intentionally hurts us. This can be in the form of slander, name calling, malicious comments, acts, or cruel threats. This is sinful on the part of the person doing the hurting.
Our response when someone intentionally hurts us should be to show love to God, and to the other person sinning against us. (Matthew 22:36-39; 1 John 4:20-21) We can show love to God by obeying His word (John 14), and we can show love to the other person by being kind, patient, and not playing the offense over and over in your mind. We can also respond to hurt feelings by thanking God for the test (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). This is often the key to overcoming bitterness and hurt. Thank God for what He is trying to teach you.
If you have been hurt intentionally, then your responsibility is to use biblical resources to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). We do this by faith, not sight. You do not have to “feel” like it, you do not have to desire it, and the other person does not have to deserve it, but you do have to respond with a righteous response.
• Give a blessing instead (1 Peter 3:11). Think of something practical you can do for this person, and then do it. Think in terms of what the other person would like. If you aren’t ready to put yourself in direct contact with the person, you can start by mailing a nice note or card.
• Pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:28). Pray for their well-being, their repentance, and that they will give God glory.
• Speak the truth, but do it in love (Ephesians 4:15; James 1:19-20). Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. This is especially difficult when you are caught off guard or are tired. It’s ok to say, “I’m not sure how to respond right now, I’ll think about it and get back with you”. (Proverbs 15:28). Then, pray about it, think about it, and do get back with the person who has hurt you. Speaking the truth in love is not only saying the right thing, but also saying it in a kind tone of voice.
• Lovingly confront the person who is sinning against you. (Galatians 6:1) Your motive must be to restore the other person and give God glory.
• Bring other Christians into the situation if necessary (Matthew 18:15-18). These are the steps in church discipline. If the other person is not a Christian, then church discipline does not apply. However, you could bring in other witnesses from within the family or circle of friends. Do not exaggerate or underplay the facts.
Unintentional (or perceived) hurts are sinful on the part of the person perceiving the hurt. Often, perceived hurts will occur when a person is overly sensitive, shy, proud, and/or self-absorbed. If you have perceived hurts, your responsibility is to repent of pride and self-focus, and put on humility.
The biblical antidote for perceived hurts is to learn to give others the benefit of the doubt. (Phillipians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:7) We need to learn not to judge the other person’s motive. (1 Corinthians 4:5) We can judge people’s behavior, but not their hearts, thoughts, or motives (Matthew 7:17-20). And we must be willing to feel uncomfortable in order to help others feel comfortable. (Phillipians 2:3)
Martha Peace is a speaker, author and biblical counselor. She is Trained and certified through the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC). For more information to go http://www.nanc.org/, or http://www.marthapeace.com/.