There are times in our lives when things happen that hurt us. Perhaps it is the disappointment of our children, the broken trust of our spouse, the betrayal of a friend, the abandonment of a family member, the failure of a business, or the rejection of a neighbor. Whatever the incident, we have a choice to either deal with the hurt or bury the hurt.
Often the reason we bury our hurt is because we don’t want to feel the pain. We instead turn to some sort of medication to stop the pain as if the pain is the problem instead of a symptom of the problem. Medication does not necessarily come in the form of drugs, some medicate themselves from pain through excessive shopping, eating or drinking or perhaps fantasy thinking through gambling, pornography, television or video games. Whatever the medication, the goal is the same, to dull or distract us from the pain and hurt we feel.
But we can choose to deal with the hurt instead. The process is threefold beginning with recognizing the hurt has occurred, then responding constructively to the hurt and finally restoring the damaged relationship. With each step, the hurt diminishes over time allowing the stress of the incident to fade. However this process is not easy as many get stuck in one of the stages thereby not fully completing the steps and allowing the hurt to continue far longer than needed. Let’s examine each of the steps more fully to better understand the process.
Recognize. Our ability to recognize and be honest with the hurt we feel greatly impacts our ability to heal. Honest is the most difficult step because it requires us to admit to our pain and reach out for help. We often think feeling pain will make us weak or venerable for more pain, ironically the reverse is true. For it is in our honesty first with ourselves and later with those around us that we are able to begin the process of healing and restoration of relationships. By not being honest, we continue to lie to ourselves and those around us thereby setting ourselves up for even more hurt in the future.
Respond. Once we recognize the hurt, our response to the hurt can either destroy or rebuild our relationships. Angry outbursts, vengeful thoughts, ignoring others, and manipulation schemes are all examples of unhealthy responses to hurt which will eventually destroy the relationship. Alternatively, by lovingly confronting the hurt and processing it in a constructive environment, we can work towards the next step in the healing process.
Restore. Only after the hurt is recognized and then responded to properly can true restoration of a relationship begin. Broken relationships continue to cause pain even if they are distant; however healthy relationships allow us to prosper. Healthy relationships allow room for mistakes without judgment, for boundaries without control, for security without anxiety, and for safety without fear. They provide peace in our lives which ultimately brings harmony and freedom from strife.
One of the lessons learned from giving birth to children is that from the greatest pain comes the greatest joy. Just as in child birth, the pain is an indication of the upcoming birth of a child so the hurt in our lives can bring about unexpected joy through restored relationships. We are not created to feel only joy without pain; instead we feel the greatest joy after the pain. Use the hurt you feel as an opportunity to grow past the pain and into the joy of a restored fellowship with your child, spouse, friend, family member or neighbor.