Christian women, Sanctification

Safe Spaces and Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves: 6 Ways to Follow Jesus’ Example of Handling Hurt

Political correctness.

Safe spaces.

Trigger warnings.

Microaggressions.

You can hardly say the sky is blue or water is wet these days without offending somebody. It shouldn’t be surprising to us that when self reigns on the throne of a person’s heart, she will bow down and serve the king of personal feelings. And as a loyal subject, she will fight to the death any perceived threat to that ruling authority. It is normal for unsaved people to live their lives with their feelings leading them around by the nose.

It is not normal for Christians to live that way. And it concerns me that I’m seeing more and more Christian women who allow themselves to be controlled by their feelings rather than being controlled by Christ.

(I’m about to step on some toes, here, so if you’re offended {maybe especially if you’re offended} by what follows, hang in there with me until we get past the hurt feelings and arrive at God’s Word, or you’re actually going to be proving my point.)

❤ Last May, the day before Mother’s Day, I was sort of mindlessly flipping through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, when something caught my notice. Tweet after tweet, status after status, article after article about Mother’s Day. But the vast majority of those posts were not honoring and encouraging women who are mothers, which is the whole point of Mother’s Day. They were focused on women for whom Mother’s Day is painful. Women who are infertile. Single women who haven’t had children. Women who have lost children in miscarriage or other tragedies. People whose mothers have died. Mothers whose children are estranged.

❤ As April Fool’s Day approached this year, I began noticing admonishments not to say, “I’m pregnant,” as an April Fool’s joke on social media in order to protect the feelings of women struggling with infertility or have miscarried.

❤ I have heard from dozens of women who refuse to obey God’s command to join with a doctrinally sound local church – even though they’re physically and logistically able to – because they have been hurt by a previous church.

❤ Christian women who follow false teachers commonly lash out in anger – often displaying the opposite of every one of the fruits of the Spirit – when presented with incontrovertible biblical evidence that the teacher is promoting false doctrine.

❤ And have you seen the fracas over racism in evangelicalism lately? Ungodly statements and accusations are flying from both sides of the aisle because, feelings: feelings of being owed something, fear of man feelings of not wanting to appear racist, feelings of retribution, feelings of pride and self-righteousness.

Life circumstances and other people genuinely and validly hurt us sometimes. No sane person would deny that, and certainly no Christian with a modicum of Christlike compassion would deny it. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the painful situations I mentioned above. Pain – deep, agonizing, and often undeserved pain – goes with the territory of being human. None of us are immune.

And, if you’re a Christian, you worship a Savior who more than understands what it’s like to be hurt – not just the physical torture of flogging and crucifixion, but the emotional pain during his life of being “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Jesus experienced far more misery than you or I ever will, and yet, He handled it in a way that brought honor and glory to God. As His disciples, we are called to follow His example when it comes to our own pain.

Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign

During His lifetime on earth, Jesus’ own brothers and sisters didn’t believe in Him. The leaders and members of His “church” abused, slandered, and falsely accused Him. His community eventually wanted Him dead.

Jesus could have allowed this grief to stay at the forefront of His heart and mind, governing His thoughts and reactions towards others and towards life in general. But He didn’t. He chose to deal with His pain in a godly way, refusing to allow it to control Him, paralyze Him, or deter Him from His mission, but putting it in its proper perspective. Pain is not paramount – holiness is. Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign – He determined that His heart and mind would be led by holy thoughts and actions.

Jesus didn’t expect people to accommodate His feelings

Can you imagine Jesus demanding a safe space or that people refrain from posting certain things on social media in order to protect His feelings? Neither can I. It must have been monumentally difficult to endure the insults and mockery that constantly came His way, especially when He had the power (and the right) to shut those people up so He wouldn’t have to deal with all of that. Instead, Jesus accepted that hurtful people and circumstances are part of life and He proactively chose to respond to those people and circumstances in a godly way – setting an example for us in the process.

Jesus forgave

Not just one person, one time, or one situation. Seventy times seven. Even if the person didn’t ask for forgiveness. Even if the person innocently stuck his foot in his mouth. Not once do we see Jesus harboring bitterness in His heart or holding a grudge against someone who hurt Him personally, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Jesus forgave and moved on with His life and ministry.

Jesus was content

Sometimes, it’s not a person who hurts us, but the circumstances God has sovereignly brought or allowed into our lives. Did you catch that? Anything that’s going on in your life is only going on because God is permitting it or causing it. From infertility to medical conditions to racism to the consequences of sin, God is in charge of what happens to you, and He uses these painful situations to teach you obedience, cause you to depend on and trust in Him, and conform you to the image of Christ.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” Jesus said. Jesus was homeless, poor, unmarried, and childless, yet never once do we see Him complain about any of these circumstances. He accepted the station in life to which God had assigned Him and was content with His lot, making the most of His situation to the glory of God. We can follow Jesus in that godly mindset, realizing that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and that the Holy Spirit can empower us to find ways to be content no matter our situation.

Jesus didn’t retaliate or sin when His feelings were hurt

If our response to a hurtful person or situation is to take vengeance, lash out in anger, or wallow in self-pity, we aren’t acting the way Jesus did. He never retaliated against those who hurt him, failed to exercise self-control in responding to unkind people, or felt sorry for Himself as a result of his situation. Jesus always perfectly showcased the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Jesus focused on others, not Himself

Did Jesus stay home from the wedding at Cana because He couldn’t deal with the fact that someone else was getting married and He wasn’t? Was He overcome by hurt and jealousy when people brought their children to Him because He longed to experience the joys unique to fatherhood? No. He made sure the happy couple’s big day was even better by celebrating with them and giving them an awesome gift. He embraced and blessed other people’s children, pouring out His love upon them.

It is absolutely and inarguably incumbent upon us as compassionate, caring, kind, and merciful followers of Christ to weep with those who weep in the midst of suffering. We follow in Jesus’ footsteps by comforting others with the comfort He has shown us. We do our best to be sensitive to the hurts of others and not cause additional or unnecessary pain. We lift up the fallen and strengthen the knees that are weak, just like Jesus did.

But God also requires us to draw upon His strength, look past our own pain, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Just as it is good and right to comfort a friend who’s infertile or grieve with parents who have miscarried, it is also good and right for that friend and those parents to rejoice on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with those whom God has chosen to bless with children, or to celebrate with loved ones who have just announced a pregnancy. We take the focus off ourselves and put it on others, just like Jesus did.

 

Life hurts sometimes. And it’s OK to feel that pain. To grieve over loss. To mourn over suffering. But we cannot let those feelings be the boss of how we act and think. If we are to follow Christ, we must ask Him to help us follow His example of dealing with our raw and tender feelings: not expecting people to tiptoe around us, not allowing bitterness or unforgiveness to take over our hearts, not allowing our pain to reign and cause us to sin. We follow Christ’s example by taking up our cross daily, following Him, serving others, and living to the full the lives God has ordained for us. Whether it’s easy or it’s hard. Whether we’re joyful or sorrowful. Whether we feel like it or not.

31 thoughts on “Safe Spaces and Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves: 6 Ways to Follow Jesus’ Example of Handling Hurt”

  1. EXCELLENT! I’ve had these same thoughts too. After the death of my husband it hurt to see couples in church worship together and be honored for their anniversary. Yet I KNEW they earned that honor and I chose to celebrate with them through the hurt.

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  2. Michelle, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your unapologetic devotion to the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Church. I have been a Christian most of my 46 years, but my whole world changed 2 years ago when my husband and I left (brokenhearted and on biblical grounds) our southern baptist church family and joined a reformed baptist church. I have learned more about God in the last 2 years than the last 30+ years as what I thought was a Christian. I came across your blog some time back and have been following ever since. Your faithfulness to the Lord has been a true blessing to me. Every time I read your blog for a specific day I am left in awe that it was exactly what I was dealing with and needed to hear.
    I am not “a fan”, but a sister in Christ who just wanted to encourage you in the faith and tell you that you are loved and so appreciated. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to bless His Church! Colossians 3:9-14 is my prayer for you. God bless you!

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  3. Just thinking: Might our culture’s hypersensitivity be a result of our embrace of modern psychology with its emphasis on validating feelings? Since psychology has infiltrated the Church, should we be surprised that Christians are acting like the world in this matter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s part of it, but I also think it can be just plain old worldliness invading our thoughts and attitudes. Political correctness bombards us with the idea that everyone is marginalized and has the right to live in perpetual outrage and hurt feelings. That starts to rub off after a while :0)

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  4. Excellent Michelle, and I wholeheartedly agree. I have noticed this unbiblical trend too, among women especially. I chock much of it up to false converts and/or immaturity. Every generation battles against worldliness infiltrating the church, and the idol of self-righteous feelings is certainly one for our time.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Yes, those are undoubtedly some of the causes, but I think any of us, no matter how mature, can be blindsided by terrible pain and get off track for a while with self-pity and such. We just have to be on our guard against that and submit to the Holy Spirit as He begins lovingly moving us back to where He wants us to be.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Well said, Michelle! The issue this article addresses is something I am dealing with right now and I have been praying for insight and wisdom from God’s word to help me. Your article is yet another answer from God directing me to his word. God’s word is living and active and is ALWAYS sufficient!

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  6. A truly fine article again. Last year I got involved in comments on another blog with this article that you may find interesting:

    http://www.davidprince.com/2017/03/31/cannot-raise-snowflakes-jesus-name/

    People who do this can be a variety of ages, gender and races. However, in my generation we would call it “pity parties,” now the sensitive ones (I find the ones I’ve had interaction with are millennials) are referred to as “snowflakes.” The way some of them reacted after the last presidential election was ridiculous. There are ways to share opinions without being disrespectful (as I was the recipient of on a social media discussion).

    I have no patience for it personally. That’s not being non-empathetic, that’s being faithful to Scripture. I will be kind, but if let our sisters wallow in self-pity, we aren’t helping them to grow in their obedience to the Lord.

    As always, I’m preaching to myself here! Thanks Michelle.

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  7. Thank youfor this wonderful article, Michelle! Timely (throughout my life), and fits for my women’s Bible study. Thank you… I’ll be copying & sharing this at our study next week.

    When (often) I am tempted to let my feelings overwhelm me & take the place of the peace of the Lord in my heart, I’m reminded of my constant need to bring it to Him in prayer so that His comfort, strength, & peace restores my soul. So it is, in my weakness, in our griefs & sorrow here on earth, His strength & His peace are glorified alone.

    He uses our hardships (& our associated hurts, sorrows, griefs) full-well to magnify His victory over the curse of sin.

    And, also, I’m reminded of God’s word that reassures & redirects my heart. Such passages (now very much stored in my heart), such as…

    Psalm 51:1,10-12
    Psalm 103
    Colossians 3:1-3
    Hebrews 12:1-3

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  8. Once again, thank you for putting into words so eloquently the thoughts that are racing around like rabbits in my head.

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  9. So good! I had to stop reading a book recently because rather than acknowledging a lot of this self pity as sin, it seemed to want you to tap into that brokenness and stay hyper focused on self. We need to ask God how to use every situation, even the ugly ones, for His glory, not my comfort. I understand clinging to Jesus when you are experiencing trials and even praying for a favorable outcome; ultimately, God has orchestrated and knows of each and every day and every trial one experiences is for the greater good even when the outcome isn’t positive in our sight. We can’t see the big picture. He may be using my difficulties so that I can bear witness to others, so that I can be refined into who he wants me to be, or whatever reason HE sees fit. I couldn’t agree with this post more.

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