Every single one of us has experienced hurt and pain physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Unfortunately, it is just a part of life that we must all endure. How we do so is up to us: we can choose to take these painful experiences and mold them into something positive or we can sulk in them and allow for bitterness and anger to settle in.This is especially true when it comes to how we handle emotional or spiritual hurt from our brothers and sisters in Christ and therefore the Church.
Speaking as someone who has personally felt hurt emotionally and/or spiritually by a fellow brother or sister in Christ, I know how easy it is to sulk in your hurt until it turns to bitterness, and eventually anger and discontentment with those people, and sometimes even the Church as a whole. Now, when we feel hurt there are two kinds of people we can become: the confronter, or the wallower.
Allow me to clarify that when I say to confront, I mean informing the person that what they said or did hurt them with the intent of reconciliation. I know there are some people, like me, who hate confrontations, however to have true reconciliation without a wall built between you and your friend, it means you have to communicate. For instance, I have a friend that I became close with rather quickly at a church I had been attending, we would exchange text messages and occasional phone calls and then we went to emailing each other. For some time we were steadily exchanging emails every other day and sometimes daily. Well, all of the sudden her responses stopped altogether. I had a choice, I could have allowed a wall to build between us or I could have confronted her about the situation. So, in an email I sent her, I expressed how I was feeling in the most non-confrontational and Christ-like way I could and gave her the opportunity to set the record straight. I am so thankful I did this, because I valued this relationship and I knew she was a sister in Christ that I did not want to lose. In confronting her, not only was there reconciliation but also a deeper understanding of what was going on in her life.
This is the most dangerous place to find ourselves in, because once we begin to wallow, many times we wind up trapped in this state and sulking in our hurt does nothing for us or those around us. In fact, many times it proves to be nothing more than a total turn-off and I think it just makes the situation 10 times worse. I can attest to this personally from when I was in high school. We see cliques being an issue in the church with grown adults, so naturally it is even worse in the youth. Combine that with an overly emotional quirky teenage girl and all her hormones and you’re destined to have some hurt feelings. At that age(13-18), I definitely chose to wallow in my hurt and constantly point the finger towards those who hurt me and it really caused damage that I still struggle with to this day. There is no specific story or situation, but I remember feeling left out and hurt by my Christian peers at church, therefore my brothers and sisters in Christ, and instead of confronting them or trying to turn my pain into something positive, I wallowed in it and it eventually grew to where I was bitter towards those people, and then eventually toward the church. Perhaps if I had prayed and sought God through that season and had addressed my brothers and sisters in a Christ-like manner with the intent for reconciliation, my story would be different. Although my story is not one of reconciliation, God has allowed for me to learn through that season of my life.
Whether we have chosen to confront or wallow, I believe we can use our past, present, or ongoing pains and turn them into something positive. You might ask how, but that is really for the Lord to answer and I know He will if you earnestly seek Him in it. Jeremiah 19:12-13 says, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” If you seek Him and ask for Him to turn your pain into something positive, He will do it (Matthew 7:7-12). For me personally, I think a way to turn my pain into something positive would be to get involved in my church by welcoming new faces with a smile and try my hardest to welcome them with the fervor and Spirit that I wish others would have done for me. That is, to go above and beyond a simple hey, but to actively pursue them, getting connected with them through social media, inviting them over or out to eat. For me, personally turning my pain into something positive is to treat others the way I wish I had been treated and to pursue my brothers and sisters in Christ with more than simple greetings. How will you turn your pain into something positive today to bring glory and honor to God?