As long as you are breathing, you are a candidate for being hurt and hurting. I know because I have been hurt deeply, and I have hurt deeply. There are moments where the hurt you bear, both what you’ve received and given, seems unbearable. It is like a crushing weight that is suffocating, and a searing pain that doesn’t subside.
Hurting expresses itself in anger. It makes you tentative. It causes you to be untrusting. It can lead to isolation. And hurting, unattended and not cared for well, will be wholly detrimental.
So what do you do when you are hurting?
1. Admit it. Hiding the fact that you are hurt doesn’t help heal the hurt. You will never find healing in isolation. Admit it to God. Admit it to yourself. But what I have found to be true is that there needs to be great caution with whom you share your hurt. Brené Brown, in her book Imperfect Gifts, says there are those who can become “flying debris,” and do more harm than good. I’ve found that to be true in my life. But I’ve also found two or three men with whom I can share my hurts; those who have my best interest at heart and aren’t looking for something to gossip about. They aren’t interested in the details of who has hurt me, or who I’ve hurt for that matter, but they are invested in my healing. Healing doesn’t begin until you admit that you are hurting.
2. Examine it. It is important to identify why you are hurting and where you are hurting. Ask God show you the places in your heart you may even be unaware of where hurt is hiding and growing. It may be pain from a wound someone has caused you, or you have caused someone else, and have suppressed it deeply within the recesses of your heart. A great book that has been extremely helpful to me is Emotionally Health Spirituality, by Peter Scazzerro. Personally, I believe that every person should read this book. It’s one I wish had been written 30 years earlier. As well as reading, and working through the wisdom and practical help offered in that book, another helpful discipline I have established in my life is praying what David praying in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” God is a much better examiner of my heart, and much more gracious in His findings, than I am. And He knows exactly how to shepherd us through the valley of the shadow of death and into green pastures beside quiet waters.
3. Care for it. I can’t heal my hurt, but I know who can. The Psalmist reminds us that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 There is no greater care giver than God. His heart is compassionate towards us, and His hands are skillful in bringing healing to our pain. Charles Spurgeon said, “There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.” I’m finding that to be true.
4. Release it. Hurt that is held on to, is hurt that never heals. There is a great quote that is often attributed to C.S. Lewis, although it is not certain that he said it. Nonetheless, it is a great quote in which the words are absolutely true. “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars–you have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” Moving forward doesn’t mean that you don’t feel. But what it does mean is that you don’t allow the hurt to be a weight that pulls you down to the depths. Forgiving those who have hurt you deeply, and asking forgiveness of those whom you have deeply hurt, is what frees you to move forward in healing and sustaining grace.