“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Were you taught that as a child? I know I was. The well-meaning adult who taught it to me was sincere in trying to help me see that words can’t physically bring pain. She was wrong about the pain that words can inflict.
Words linger in our minds long after the person is gone, and the enemy replays them often. Someone can compliment you over and over, but let them make one negative comment and all of the positives evaporate. This is the reason mean girl pain can be so severe. It is not just that she said it, but in our hearts a recording was made and when we are down, or at least not confident, it plays over and over.
Grade school girls are notorious for this.
“Your legs are too long.”
“Your hair is a mess.”
“Your teeth are not straight, or white” or whatever else that would communicate imperfection.
Those words stick for years and we feel the pain of unworthiness. Even adults wound with their words. I was recently at an event and a well-meaning woman spoke bluntly to another about her clothing. I was horrified by this woman’s words and wanted to compassionately cover the young lady she had spoken to. In my motherly spirit I comforted the young lady and thought how could the other lady be so callous? Later in the event it became painfully clear that the woman who had spoken rudely knew she was harsh but did not know how to correct it. My heart hurt for both women.
Biblical ways to find healing
* Start by telling your Daddy! Your Heavenly Father does care and He longs for you to find healing. Over and over in the Psalms we are assured that God is our refuge and strength. He is a help in times of trouble. He is our healer, our comforter, our friend and especially our defender.
* Choose forgiveness. I know this makes no sense because they did hurt you. But holding onto a grudge does nothing but hold you in prison.
Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
When we plot and plan how to get back at others or just not forgive we hold on to something that is poison to us.
A pastor once said, “It is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
The sad part is your offender has probably gone on with life. It is only you who holds on to the memory. God is the one who can really get their attention and help them see the hurt they cause. There may come a time of confrontation. If it does, spend time praying before you confront and when you do, remember you may be opening yourself up to more pain with little to no resolution.
*Choose to turn your pain into a positive channel. You can’t change the events that happened, but you can choose to not become a victim.
2 Corinthians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God,”
Look around you. One of the most effective weapons against allowing pain to overwhelm you is to look outside of yourself. Who could use a word of encouragement? Who needs someone to go to lunch with? Who needs to know they are seen and appreciated? Ask God how He would like to use your pain for His glory. Remember, Jesus too suffered unjustly and He will give you the strength needed to let go and allow your pain to flow into ministry.
*Look at Christ’s example. Some of the last words Jesus prayed from the cross were, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” If Christ could forgive us for what we have done, we must forgive others. The Lord’s prayer says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Christ even served Judas knowing he was preparing to betray Him. Serving those who hurt us is when we look the most like Christ. Pain is never easy to let go of and allow God to bring healing, but it is so necessary.
If church leadership hurt you
I started this series of articles by sharing responses to a question I asked on social media. What broke my heart the most were comments about those “in church leadership” who hurt others.
Please allow me to step in as a motherly pastor’s wife and say, if someone in the church hurt you, I am so sorry. I don’t know your circumstances, but I am sure your pain is real. Please forgive us, your church leaders. We are far from perfect. We mess up. We need your forgiveness. We are sometimes bad with words. If we have been let go from a church, we don’t always know how to respond when people ask us questions. We find avoidance easier at times than trying to explain.
If we as leaders have let you down, please know it is us, not God. He alone is perfect. We are human and will fail. There are some who are in leadership who are not sensitive and do not even know you are hurt. Please forgive anyway. Please don’t allow someone’s careless behavior to keep you from a genuine relationship with God.
If church members have hurt you, choose to love anyway. God can and will discipline His own. Keep loving Him and others in spite of our failures.
Pain whether from inside the church or outside hurts, but with the power of Christ, all can be healed. It may take some time, but God is faithful and He will bring it to pass.
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