Guarding our Hearts When Hurt

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB

The heart is a fragile yet powerful organ. Nurture and feed it well, and life and health follows. Neglecting it allows hurts to sink deep and fester. Bitterness begins to invade, which strangles our joy and peace. Suppressing or denying our hurts only leads to decay.

Instead, we need to feel with Jesus.

Perhaps that’s the difference between those who find healing and those who remain stuck, not only in their wounds, but also the byproducts of unresolved, and often fed, hurts. 

A while back, after a powerful women’s event proclaiming the freedom of forgiveness and emotional release, I talked to a woman who’d been struggling for years. Someone hurt her deeply. They betrayed her trust, abandoned her, and treated her unjustly. She had every right to feel angry, and she was.

After nearly a decade, her anger was destroying her, imprisoning her, only it didn’t show up as anger. Instead, those deep wounds presented as anxiety, depression, sorrow, and distrust. I encouraged her to grieve with Jesus, following His lead in full surrender. But she couldn’t.

No. She wouldn’t. Her injustice felt too unjust for her to let go. I suppose she thought releasing the offense would absolve her offender of guilt. She couldn’t see how she was continuously allowing him to hurt her over and over again.

She was letting him snuff out her candle. Her inner spark. What made her her. She was robbing herself of the life Christ had died to give her.

Consider the converse. Years ago, a friend called me. “Pray for my heart,” she said, explaining how she’d been wounded pretty deeply. She didn’t tell me how or by whom, nor did she need to. Instead, she asked me to help guard her candle, her inner spark, with prayer. She grieved the hurt, absolutely. But because she invited Jesus into her pain, bitterness never took root.

Some say anger is often a secondary emotion, arising from fear or pain. It’s so easy to bypass the hurt, which can make us feel weak, and jump straight to the anger, which can give the illusion of strength. But Scripture tells us, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:4-5, ESV).

Before we react, God invites us to pause. To ponder. And trust.

What hurts lie beneath our anger? Why do those hurts hurt so deeply?

What lies have we attached to them? We almost always do this. We’re not simply hurt because someone snubs us. No. The hurt often comes when we assign motive—“they don’t value me.”—and then a falsehood—”I’m annoying.”

Pause to prayerfully consider how that’s been true for you. Invite God to unpack your anger, your hurts, to show you everything entangled in them. Then ask Him to replace every falsehood He reveals with truth.

This is how, in part, we guard our hearts above all else, so that the well springs of life might first fill them then flow from them (Proverbs 4:23).

Is there something you need to grieve? An offense you need to let go? Will you have the courage to release it? Will you guard your candle, your inner spark, knowing all God has for you is good?

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: How do you guard your heart?