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?

It’s Not Okay, and I Forgive You

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15 NLT

When someone hurts me, and they apologize, I usually respond with the same phrase: “It’s okay.” That works, right?

I don’t like saying, “I forgive you” because it ends up sounding sanctimonious. I’m not a stained-glass sort of person, so I tend to steer away from churchy vernacular.

But here’s the problem: If someone hurt me, it’s not okay.

Maybe the hurt was unintentional, maybe it wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. Hurt is never okay, and the truth of the matter is “it’s okay” and “I forgive you” don’t mean the same thing. They shouldn’t be used interchangeably, but I fear that there is a generation of Christ-followers who haven’t learned to distinguish the difference. I’m among them.

I don’t like admitting when I’ve been hurt. It feels petty. Like I’m nit-picking or being too sensitive. I think: Surely I’m mature enough to absorb a few hurt feelings.

So instead of dealing with the hurt, I pretend it isn’t there. I tell myself that no hurt was intended, so I should be happy to carry on working with or being around whoever hurt me. God commands us to forgive. So that’s what I do. They hurt me, and it’s okay.

But that’s not forgiveness. That’s denial. And it’s dangerous.

Denying that you’ve been hurt never allows you to heal. The hurt just gets hidden, stamped down in the dark recesses of your heart. Maybe you’ll be functional for a while, but the hurt won’t stay there. It puts down roots. What started as legitimate hurt at being wronged may grow into bitterness. Your heart will eventually overflow, and what comes out won’t be pretty. 

Our hearts are the core of who we are. When we speak, we speak from whatever is stored in there. Jesus said, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fill his heart” (Luke 6:45 NASB). If what’s in our heart is mercy and grace, that’s what we communicate; if it’s damage and pain, that’s what we communicate. If you’ve spent a lifetime hiding your hurt rather than facing it, your heart will be cold and resentful and afraid, and that’s not a heart God can use.

So what do you do to heal a hurting heart?

Friend, you can’t do anything. But Jesus can.

The first step to take may seem obvious, but if you’ve made a habit of hiding your hurt, it won’t be obvious to you. Your first step toward healing is to admit that you were hurt. Name it. If the hurt is some fuzzy concept, you can’t do anything with it.

If you can’t identify how someone hurt you, you can’t really forgive them. Choosing to live your life in hurt and pain is choosing a life of bondage, and you’ve put the chains on yourself.

Acknowledge the hurt. Name the hurt. Then, you can give it to Jesus.

You may not be able to address it with the person who hurt you, but you can address it with the Lord. You can recognize that how you were hurt wasn’t okay, and you can choose to forgive.

That doesn’t mean you’ll forget what happened. It doesn’t mean you will be immediately able to move on. Honestly, it may be better that you don’t, especially if you’ve come from an abusive situation. Forgiveness and restoration aren’t the same either.

Our world is full of Jesus-followers who have concealed emotional trauma all their lives because denying it was easier than confronting it. Stop hiding from your hurt. Stop ignoring that it exists. It’s time to heal. Give yourself the opportunity to do that, and be brave enough to extend it to others.

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amy c williams

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-

Finding Fireflies

drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on a mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: Are there hurts festering in your heart today?

You Made Your Bed, Now Fry in It

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Never scrimp on an electric blanket. Think about it. Electrical currents on top of your body. While you’re sleeping.  Also, if the lights flicker when you plug it in, and you smell bacon, you should probably forget the whole thing and just get a Snuggie. Also if you wake up in a morning and find it melted into a puddle of liquid wool and smoking wires. Snuggie. If you hear sizzling at any time. Snuggie.

My grandmother once had an electric blanket that had to be from the pit of the hottest parts of the darkest abyss. But she paid good money for it, so we were going to use that thing or die. I figured probably both. We didn’t need a nightlight at Grandma’s. The little sparks from that blanket did the trick. Never mind the flames. Just pat those puppies out, turn over and go back to sleep.

Every once in a while, life can feel a little like my grandma’s blanket. Just at the moment you think things are going to get comfy and warm, you feel flames instead. Sometimes you may even start to wonder if God sees your discomfort or if He really and truly cares.

Could I encourage you in those moments to hold on to a confident knowledge that not only does He see your pain, not only does He truly care about you and your hurt, but He’s right there with you. He’s with you in every distress.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you,” (Psalm 139: 7-12, ESV). Even when you feel blanketed in everything heavy, dark and uncomfortable, you can know that He sees right out to the other side of that darkness. And through it all, He is with you. He lives right inside you.

The Holy Spirit of God has been with you every moment of every day since the instant you surrendered your life to Christ. Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth in you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17, KJV).

His forever presence! Now there’s a Comforter we can snuggle up in for the coziest sense of well-being, even when the heat is on. Recognize His presence and you will find sweet rest every time.

I probably shouldn’t admit it, but as I was reading the passage in Psalm 139 and I got to the “make my bed in Sheol” part, I remembered Grandma’s blanket again. And now I’m pretty sure I smell bacon.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 NIV

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rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Have you had flames flare just when you were getting warm and comfy?

Why You Don’t Have to Forget to Forgive

by Debbie W. Wilson

My father remarried a year after my mother’s death. Before the wedding, my soon-to-be stepmother assured me she wanted us to be one happy family. After the honeymoon she changed her mind. She emptied our home and lives of any remembrance of Mama and tried to cut my sister and me out of Daddy’s life.

One night, I got the courage to reveal some of my loss to my roommate.

“You must not have really forgiven her,” my roommate gently said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s obvious this still hurts you. If you’d really forgiven her, you wouldn’t hurt anymore.”

I wanted nothing more than to be right with God and free from the pain. My roommate’s well-meaning words only confused me. Was she right? Had my decision to forgive failed? Did my pain spring from bitterness instead of loss?

Years spent counseling other women showed me I am not alone in experiencing lingering pain after betrayal. The Old Testament story of Joseph shows this is normal.

Joseph suffered slavery and imprisonment because of his jealous brothers. When given the power to mete out justice, he offered grace instead. Yet forgiving his brothers didn’t eliminate his pain. Many years after reconciling with them, he still wept when he remembered.

Notice his emotions in the following examples.

  • Fourteen years after being sold into slavery: When his sons were born he chose names for them that memorialized God’s grace to him in his suffering: Manasseh, for “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Ephraim: for “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:51-52 NIV).
  • Twenty-one years after being sold into slavery: When he overheard his brothers discuss how they’d wronged him: “He turned away from them and began to weep” (Genesis 42:24 NIV).
  • Twenty-two years after being sold into slavery: When he saw Benjamin: “Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there” (Genesis 43:30 NIV).
  • When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it” (Genesis 45:1-2 NIV).
  • He embraced them and wept over Benjamin and the rest of his brothers (see Genesis 45:14-15 NIV).
  • Joseph “threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time” (Genesis 46:29 NIV).
  • Thirty-nine years after being sold into slavery: His brothers ask for forgiveness: “When their message came to him, Joseph wept” (Genesis 50:17 NIV).

Joseph forgave his brothers. He overcame evil with good. He trusted God (Genesis 45:5-8 NIV). But the memory still hurt.

Joseph hurt because he’d been wronged—not because he’d done wrong.

Trauma, by definition, causes “great distress and disruption.”[1]Emotional pain doesn’t necessarily indicate lack of forgiveness. It may reveal great loss. Just as physical trauma takes more time to heal than a surface scratch, deep emotional wounds take longer to heal than simple slights.

We must always forgive. Forgiveness cleans our wounds and protects us from the complications of bitterness. It puts us in a place to heal. But healing takes time.

Has a painful memory released anger and malice? Clean the wound. Forgive again. By God’s grace, we forgive our enemies, and God heals us.

 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”                                                                                                                          1 Peter 5:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Debbie’s book, Little Women Big God,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How have you dealt with a painful wound from your past?

[1] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.