Lately I’ve been praying a prayer that I know is a fantasy. I’m in a period of transition, between stay-at-home mommy to
“Empty nester” and I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know what my future holds, but this is my honest, fantasyland prayer:
God, give me a job or a ministry where my feelings don’t get hurt.
I’m wondering if maybe I could be an accountant, because numbers are kind. Maybe I could go volunteer for a local ministry or nonprofit and be their janitor, because toilets don’t talk. In my dreams, I could be a hermit in the mountains, not interacting with anyone.
My tender heart longs for safety from hurt. I will be the first to admit that my feelings get hurt easily. Perhaps it’s insecurity, or I’m tender-hearted, or I’m a HSP (highly sensitive person), but not-so-kind words, negative feedback, and rejection make me cry. There, I said it.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one crying, but recently a close friend gave me a data point. She said, “Lots of the women that I know are crying.”
Why are we women crying? Life is hard, and in the midst of the grit and grind, our feelings get hurt.
It could be when we’ve worked long and hard on a major project and our boss fails to appreciate it. Or when we’ve submitted our best work and it’s rejected. It could be words from a teenage child who doesn’t appreciate our sacrifice for them. Maybe it’s when a friend invites everyone to her get-together but us. Or perhaps our mothers are disappointed in our choices when we so want to please them.
What should we do when we get our feelings hurt? Honestly, my first reaction is to get angry and indignant. “How dare they say that to me!” And then, I go tell someone else so that they can agree with me and get angry and indignant too. And then I want to say mean words back to the person, to make them hurt like they hurt me. And then, of course, I cry. A lot.
What is a biblical reaction to hurt feelings? Here are some keys that I have learned in my 45 years of having my feelings hurt:
1) Don’t respond to hurtful words when you are angry. Wait at least overnight before you reply to a hurtful text, phone call, or email. This gives you time to calm down and gain perspective. James 1:19 says that we should be slow to speak and slow to become angry.
2) Forgive. Usually at some point in the midst of my anger, Holy Spirit reminds me that I need to forgive the person for how they hurt me.
3) Get some perspective from a trusted friend. This isn’t going to them to get them on your side, but it’s sharing your reaction and asking, “Am I overreacting? Are my feelings valid? How should I respond?”
4) Ask God to heal your hurt. Often I turn to cookies and my puppy and Netflix to numb my hurt, but only God can truly heal it. Psalm 34:18 says that God is near to the broken-hearted.
5) Choose to love that person anyway. Jesus told us in Matthew 5 to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us.
You’re feelings are going to get hurt. Mine are too. And while it would be WONDERFUL if God could give us roles in life where are feelings aren’t hurt, it’s impractical. We live in a fallen world that is full of hurt people, and the old saying goes that “hurt people hurt people.” So our feelings will be hurt by our family and friends, by our neighbors and coworkers, by our church friends and our pastors. It’s inevitable.
It’s probably true that the only way you can avoid being hurt is to hide away somewhere like a hermit.
But God needs us to be salt and light in the midst of this fallen world, so we can’t become hermits, even though a deserted tropical island or an isolated mountain cabin would be amazing. No, we need to stay in the game, engaged in ministry and the workplace, and we need to demonstrate how Jesus would respond to being hurt.
We need to model patience and grace and being slow to speak and slow to anger. We need to demonstrate forgiveness for hurtful words. We need to see for ourselves that God heals broken and wounded hearts. And we need to choose to love those hurt people who hurt us.
There is a happy ending to a lifetime of dealing with hurt feelings, it’s not a fantasyland. One day believers will be in heaven in the presence of God, where there will be no more hurt and no more tears. But until then, we need to be like Jesus, even when our feelings are hurt.