It can feel like a punch to your stomach. Your heart breaks into what seems like a thousand little pieces. It can even make your eyes burn from holding back the tears. This awful feeling I’m talking about is what can happen when someone we love — or someone we thought loved us — hurts us.
Have you ever been hurt by someone you care about?
Most of us have or will at some point in our lives. Some of us have even hurt those we love in this way.
So how can we get past the hurt? How can we let it go when we’ve been hurt so deeply?
Have you ever heard the saying “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget”? I’m afraid that’s all too true. Most of the time we find ourselves forgiving the one who hurt us but not necessarily forgetting.
I can remember an argument that a friend and I got into in high school. We exchanged not-so-nice words to each other and at one point, because she said something very hurtful to me. I snapped back at her, “I’m sure I’ll forgive you for this, but I will never forget!” The truth? I haven’t forgotten those words, but over time the pain that resonated with that memory is no longer there.
Because forgiveness, true forgiveness, does not just happen overnight. It takes time.
Have you ever forgiven someone of the hurt they caused you only to find yourself months later back at the same place with them? Back at the resentment. Back at the anger. Back at the frustration with the situation. I certainly have and it’s taken me many years into my adulthood to figure out exactly why this happens.
It’s him. He does it. Satan.
We forgive. We move on. In some cases we even find ourselves trusting that person who hurt us again and then, BAM, like lightening striking a tree, it starts to happen…but often slowly. The resentment starts to build again. Satan uses clever tactics to get into our hearts because he doesn’t want us to forgive. He doesn’t want us to move on or feel peace about things.
He wants us to hate. Resent. Harbor ill feelings towards that person. He wants the exact opposite of what God wants for us when someone hurts us.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
Forgiving is a Process
This forgiveness thing, it’s hard. It takes time and grace. Right now if you’re struggling with forgiving someone who hurt you, know that you’re not alone. Here are some tips that you may find helpful when you’ve been hurt:
- Figure out what caused the hurt.
Was it a harsh word spoken? Unreturned phone calls that turned into months of not speaking? Someone that you thought was a friend that said something nasty about you? If you can figure out exactly what it was that caused the hurt in the first place, you can jumpstart the healing process. You may even find it’s a combination of things, and that’s okay too. Try your best to identify the cause.
- Talk about it.
Can you talk about it with someone you trust? I tend to internalize things and don’t deal with them until they start to boil over (which isn’t healthy). Find a neutral party that can offer godly counsel. Perhaps this is your pastor, parent or friend, but seek out godly counsel on the situation.
It seems simple enough, but we often forget to do this when we’ve been hurt. We try to take matters into our own hands instead of giving our hurt over to God. Prayer is our communication with God. If you’re unsure of how to pray about the situation, just start with something like, “God, I’m really hurt about…” and the rest will follow.
- Remember that no one’s perfect.
We are all going to make mistakes. We will say and do things we don’t mean out of anger, frustration, etc. The person that hurt you may have not hurt you intentionally. Just as Matthew 6:14-15 above points out, how can we expect to be forgiven if we don’t forgive those who have hurt us?
I know this is all easier said than done, believe me. But there is something beautiful in forgiveness. There is something to be said about not letting Satan win over our hearts. I hope that if this is something you’re struggling with today, be it with a family member, a friend, a spouse, whoever it is that has hurt you, that you’ll give it over to the mighty Forgiver himself. You may never forget, but you will begin to heal.
For more on this topic, download our Moving Forward in Forgiveness resource.