Although we are born into this world eager to love and trust emphatically, we learn over time not everyone is trustworthy and some people are hard to love. We all go through heartaches, frustrations and disappointments from the people that enter our lives and test our ability to love, to forgive and to move on. Sadly, those that are the closest to us often challenge our “love walk” the most. It’s probably because they’re the ones we are the most vulnerable with. We hold our lovers, friends and family’s opinions with high regard and are sometimes caught off guard when they hurt us.
Even though it can be tempting to blame everyone around us for the hurt we’ve experienced, scripture tells us offenses are a fact of life (Luke 17:1). They knock on the door of everybody’s heart. At one time or another, we may have to deal with an unfaithful friend, an overly critical spouse or rejection from our family. Unfortunately offenses are inevitable, so how are we expected to survive them? How do we respond in love when ridicule, hurt or betrayal stab our hearts? How do we walk in love?
- Believe the Best in Others. In my early dating years, I couldn’t believe how much my husband would believe the best in others. I would look at him in awe and think “He’s got to be kidding!” By that time, I had been hurt by so many people, I had numerous walls up. People would have to endure an obstacle course before I would let them into my heart. Even my husband would have to date me six years before I would agree to marry him. Yet I admired his love for others and his extraordinary ability to overlook a fault. I remember asking him one night, “Why do you do it? Why do you believe in the best in others?” He said, “Honestly, I do it more for me. It’s so much easier to believe the best in others than to expect or anticipate the worse. I’m happier. I’m not walking around with a ‘chip on my shoulder’ or guarded all the time.” His answer was so simple; it cut to my heart. Relationships were very exhausting to me because I would work so hard to avoid getting hurt. It took some time before I would allow God to heal my hurt and teach me to love others to the point I believed the best in them; but once I did it was liberating! I could love without conditions.
Jesus told us in John 13:34-35, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” God loves us unconditionally and He is faithful to forgive us without hesitation every time we slip up (1 John 1:9). He expects us to “love one another” the same way He loves us, and that means believing the best in our friends, spouse and family. Furthermore, a very popular passage is 1 Cor 13:7 ESV, it says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I know how difficult of a task this can be, but we can’t walk through life expecting our friends to betray us, our spouses to disappoint us or family to hurt us. It’s a self-destructive life style and we’ll never benefit from relationships with that type of perspective. You’ll find yourself continually victimized.
2. Walk in the Spirit. On our own, there’s absolutely no way we can love others as Christ commanded us. It’s impossible! It requires some supernatural assistance that only the Holy Spirit can provide. How else are we supposed to forgive the person who hurts us seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-21)! It’s only by the Holy Spirit! If Jesus needed the help of the Holy Spirit, how much more do we need Him? John 14:26 says, “But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.” Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us live our lives and that includes moving beyond heartaches, forgiving those that have hurt us and loving the un-lovable. Stop trying to do it alone! Ask the Holy Spirit for help, He is more than willing to help us love.
3. Pray. Let’s be honest…we are human! We are prone to emotional roller coasters,
desires to “get back” and we often can be a victim to our hurt. Without prayer, our initial response is not going to be love or to walk in the Spirit because we are overwhelmed with the heartache. Our perspective or outlook needs to change first and prayer will help us do that. Prayer can put out the fire in our hearts and calm the storm in our minds.
There was a recent time when I was very hurt over what a friend had done. I was so broken, it felt like I grieved over the friend’s action more than if I had lost a loved one. All sorts of emotions and questions bombarded my heart. The “How could yous” and “Whys” would replay in my mind, followed by days of tears. Then there came a point where I thought, “I never want to see that person in my life again!” I was broken. Then after months of not seeing this person, we had our first encounter. Without giving it a second thought, I approached my old friend. I wasn’t angry or rash, I didn’t cuss or give any grim looks. In fact, I didn’t even bring up the situation. After much prayer, God healed my brokenness and rather than being angry, I had compassion. This individual would have to live with the consequences of their actions. I was now more concerned about their soul and standing with God, than my feelings. The Holy Spirit helped me to love this person in spite of what they had done.
4. Forgive by Faith. You may never “feel” like forgiving the person that hurt you. That is why forgiveness is a choice we make and not a feeling. It’s a choice we make and accomplish by faith. Scriptures repeatedly say, “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17,Galatians 3:11,Hebrews 10:38). Walking in love and forgiving others pushes us to reach out to God in faith, for the strength and the grace to forgive. If we let the unforgiveness linger in our hearts, regardless of what the other person did to us, it will bring more damage to us than to the person who hurt us. It’s like a quote I heard one time, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping the other person gets hurt.” Let’s not damage our heart, mind or body more by holding onto the pain. Let’s make up our minds to forgive by faith and allow God to heal our hearts.
5. Let Go and Let God. We can spend our lives being victims and dwelling on the pain of our past or we can choose to let it go. If you’ve forgiven the person, now let go of the hurt, let God heal the wounds and move forward. Choose not to refer to the situation every time you see the person or every time they make you angry. Stop talking about it! I’m not suggesting you should trap yourself into a repetitive painful situation with the individual. You’ll need the wisdom of God in how to interact with the friend, spouse or family member. This doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle of heartache. Nevertheless, no matter what they’ve done to us, we cannot continually “throw it” in their faces. Let it go!
Unfortunately, some people don’t even realize their own destructive behavior. They claim to love their spouses, family members and friends but they continue to hurt them. Why do they do this? It’s because they don’t know true love. They don’t know God and He is the definition of love. Sadly, we burden these people with our unrealistic expectations. We demand them to love us they way God does (unconditionally) and get upset when they continually disappoint us. But, how can they love like God, if they don’t know His love? When Jesus was on the cross he knew those that nailed him to the cross had no idea they were crucifying an innocent man. That is why He said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34). Sometimes we need to say the same prayer for particular people in our lives. You may not feel like forgiving them because the pain is still present, and you’re tired of the viscous cycle but I encourage you to choose to forgive. Even if they’re completely unaware of the hurt they’ve caused you, by God’s grace and through your prayers, He can show them how to truly love.
Sometimes our love walk will require us to love particular individuals from afar. If someone is causing you repetitive heartache, you may have to disassociate yourself from the individual for a set time (or indefinitely depending on the severity of the situation). You still forgive them, love them, pray for them; but you’re not going to be the closest of friends anymore.When it comes to your family members or your spouse, healthy boundaries should be made. Have an open and honest communication on how you can rebuild the trust in the relationship again. Ultimately, don’t let their hurtful actions hinder your joy for life. Learn to trust again, learn to love again and learn to take risks again! Don’t fall into the temptation of isolation. I’ve witnessed many good-hearted people get hurt and then transform into a “hermit crab.” They crawl into their shells to avoid the conflicts that come with relationships. They don’t want to get hurt anymore! In every relationship there’s going to be disagreements but that doesn’t mean the relationship is not worth having. We have to determine if the relationship is toxic or healthy. A scripture I like to keep in mind is Prov. 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Ask yourself the questions, Was the action of my friend done inadvertently? Premeditated? Out of retaliation of their own hurt? or Was it ill-intended, with a hidden agenda? My spouse, family members or friends may hurt me at times, but I cannot allow the pains of the past to hinder the beauty and purpose of our relationship. We all make mistakes and we’re all learning how to love. Let go of the pains of your past, let God heal your wounds and grow in your “love walk” with someone.
It’s your turn! Have you had someone in your life hurt you? How did you move past the heartache? How did you forgive them? Share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s help each other grow in our love walk.
You can hear more on this subject on a Vlog my husband, Juan and I did on Facebook. Plus Juan shares his incredible testimony of how he reconciles with Dad! Check it out here.