One painful experience doesn’t have to color your whole future
One person’s betrayal, someone’s shortcomings, and pain brought by the hands of another doesn’t have to play on repeat in our lives.
James and I had a tough season in ministry a few years back. It was a rough road where we begged God to call us out more than praying God would get us through. We left that season of ministry with a bad taste in our mouths often vocalizing, “Yeah, we’re never doing that again!” We never left ministry completely but we did adjust the environment that we did ministry in because of this one hurtful season. It took about a year to fully heal and forgive those who caused us pain, but it took even longer to realize that our distance wasn’t always discernment, it was our man-made shield of protection. We weren’t allowing God to be our protector or shield. Instead of learning from the hard season and using discernment in future seasons, we kept many ministries at arm’s length as a protection mode.
Likewise, our son has pain from his early childhood prior to the adoption. This pain doesn’t have to carry over into his future and it’s a daily struggle for him. When he’s hurting or upset he fears that I will walk away and stop being his mother like his biological mother did. I tell him daily that I love him and remind him often that I am not going anywhere. His pain is real and still very present in his life even though it was so many years ago. As hard as it is, it’s the reality of our adoption journey.
Isn’t that exactly what a painful experience does to all of us? The pain of betrayal, the sting of rejection, and the loneliness of abandonment puts a bad taste in our mouth and anything that could possibly make us feel that way again we spit out and walk away from. We can take one isolated incident and let it pour into all the other areas of our lives preventing us from healing and moving forward.
Do you ignore your hurt by brushing it off saying it’s no big deal and think it will eventually go away?
Do you feel you’re hurt deeply but never talk about it?
Do you talk about your hurt over and over again and feel like you can’t move on?
If you want to heal from a painful experience you must allow yourselves to experience the emotions that come with it. When you accept what happened and allow yourselves to feel, you can verbally admit that you’re hurt, forgive those who have hurt you, and move forward without bringing any of the pain with you. You can walk into new seasons of life refreshed and waiting for the blessings of God.
When you carry around hurt and anger, it festers and grows into a spirit of bitterness and offense. Your scars from painful seasons can cause you to see every opportunity or relationship through the lens of that pain. When you have the spirit of bitterness and offense, it prevents you from loving your life in the way you are created to.
There’s great power in forgiveness. How often do you hear “It’s ok” as the response to “I’m sorry” when in reality it’s not ok? Forgiveness is not the attitude of “It’s ok,” the attitude of forgiveness is saying that you recognize what the person did was wrong and you forgive them for their actions. Forgiveness is for you, to set you free and release you from the offender.
Be mindful of the difference between discernment and triggers. When you walk through the valleys of life you should come out stronger and wiser. You can take that strength and wisdom to your next mountain and valley and use it to make better choices and protect yourself from potential harm. However, it’s when you walk out of the valley fearful that anything that resembles what just happened can trigger feelings of betrayal, rejection, and hurt. Recognizing the difference will free you from possibly stunting your own growth.
Even though we might experience betrayal and rejection at the hands of broken people in a broken world, we can still trust God for our good. – Alli Worthington
This past season God has been slowly working on James and my hearts, putting trustworthy people in our path to learn that our previous tough season in ministry was just that, a season, not a lifetime. As we started to serve again in a role that formerly we stayed away from, we were able to experience the final step of healing. Healing that we didn’t even realize we needed. I’m also believing for healing over my son and pray for that daily.
I’m praying the same for you. For you to learn from your past hurt and to walk forward in freedom and confidence in Christ as your protector. You have wonderful God-given gifts and abilities. You’re not only hurting yourself by carrying your past into your future, you are also hurting those around because they don’t get to be blessed by all that you have to offer.
Emily | To Unearth says
I’ve found it’s easy to want to give into the hurt, because playing the victim gives us the excuse to linger and sulk in our feelings. BUT that doesn’t bring healing, like you’ve talked about. Only God can bring healing, which means we need to let go of the pain and give it to Him!
Yes, you make a great point. I think it’s common for people to play the victim role and that really only hurts themselves.
Tressie Burdette says
This is so true. We all let past hurts detour us from our destiny at times.
Elizabeth Keene says
Certain things in life can be so painful, they can be so hard to get over. But it helps us to heal once we can move past.
You’re right, some pain takes a while to get over. Things take time.
I’m so glad God using those hard and painful times to teach us and to grow us. Some of my biggest growth happened during the painful times!
Alice Mills says
“If you want to heal from a painful experience you must allow yourselves to experience the emotions that come with it.” It took me a long time to recognize this truth. Sometimes God’s people don’t do the hurting ones any favor by telling them that it is over now. They can forget about what happened. It is in the recognition that something bad happened that healing often comes.
I couldn’t agree more! It’s a pet peeve of mine when I hear others say “You have to get over it.” It hurts the one hurting more like you said.
Donna Miller says
I try not to carry around hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness. But it still happens sometimes when a familiar situation plays out that it triggers something from the past. I hate when that happens. But I know Jesus wants me to be kind myself and accept His help in removing one layer at a time when He feels I’m ready. TY for your beautiful post! 🙂
Thank you for sharing. It is hard to move forward and heal.
“If you want to heal from a painful experience you must allow yourselves to experience the emotions that come with it.” – Heather I’m so glad you put this line and discussed why! As a therapist, this is the hardest aspect for me to get clients to recognize and do. Negative and vulnerable feelings hurt and people don’t want to experience them. But you are so right, if you don’t acknowledge and experience them, you can’t heal and move on.
Thank you for commenting and sharing your professional advice!
Julie Plagens says
Really good insight about how we walk away from things when we are broken hearted. I think it’s a normal and healthy response to take time out to heal. If you don’t pause, you could bring bitterness into the mix and be a detriment to those around you. Glad you’re still in some ministry. It is a sacrifice at times, but lots of blessings, too.
Yes, we love ministry- even when it’s hard. =)
Holly Lasha says
This is great…you have given me so much to think about.
Praying for you to hear God when He speaks to you =)
This is lovely. I feel for your son! You’ve said some very important truths in here about pain. God clearly has a call on you to minister and I’m glad you’re walking through the difficult seasons- they all have a purpose.
Thank you, Leah. I love your ministry so much. My brother died from a battle with drug addiction so I read so much of what you write.
Forgiveness is a big part of healing for me. I have to be able to understand and forgive the behavior for me to be able to move on. Sometimes that takes a long time. I have a sister that I did not speak to for a long time over things that happened after our mom died but we did finally reconnect and we are great friends now 🙂
I’m so glad to hear you reconnected with your sister! What a blessing it is to have a sister.
Blyss Your Heart says
This was so wonderful. I had so much anger for years because I was not fully trusting God as my provider and protector and letting all the negatives of the world affect my life. I am now learning to pray and seek for guidance in all things. I have a new outlook and realize, all the people or experiences that I thought were being negative experiences were actually just my mindset on the situations. I know God tests us and grows us so in this case I think the ministry was just that, a tool to help y’all grow and help others that go through the same. But often times our hardships are only created in our minds looking through the wrong lens! https://www.blyssyourheart.com
Praise God for your healing! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.
I didn’t realize until recently that I had allowed a deep hurt affect other relationships. In a way I became a turtle, trying to protect my heart and only coming out when I felt safe. I’m learning to not allow that past hurt to invade other areas.
It’s very hard to not do that. It’s almost instincts. If something caused you pain before it’s normal to not want to hurt again. It’s allowing the healing from God in our hearts to move forward that can be hard.