Healing Emotional Wounds - So What Are "Hurt Feelings" Anyway?
Hope for Todays Problems addresses this verse: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8, NIV)
1) Healing Emotional Wounds - To begin with, let’s note that there is much evil in this world and that from time to time some of it is directed toward you and me. When you are on the receiving end of evil it hurts. It is not sin to be momentarily hurt by harsh and unkind words, or acts of betrayal.
If that is the case, then when does being hurt become sin?
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How to Heal Hurt Feelings 1
2) Healing Emotional Wounds - I’d like to suggest this thought. Getting hurt is a passive act. Getting hurt means that you are the object of someone else’s sin and hatefulness. Pain hurts. Whether physical or emotional, it certainly hurts when people are ugly to you.
But, being hurt is different. Being or feeling hurt is active. This is what you choose to do after getting hurt. This is when you choose to feel angry or sorry.
3) Healing Emotional Wounds - I think we can identify two points at which getting hurt (passive) becomes being hurt (active), and therefore sin. The first is when, after getting hurt by a very real act of evil, you choose to dwell on the offense, and have an unforgiving spirit to the person that sinned against you. A lack of forgiveness is certainly a place where much sin has its origin.
4) Healing Emotional Wounds - The second point is that attitude in which every minor offense is responded to in a whiney, overly sensitive, self-centered fashion. When either one of these two points comes into play, then people who “get their feelings hurt” are making choices to be hurt and are thereby in a state of sin.
Whoa! Wait a minute, how in the world do you figure that? I’m on the receiving end of this evil and I’m the sinner?”
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5) Healing Emotional Wounds - It is really very simple. Other people, in their unkindness and inconsideration toward you, can only provide you the opportunity to be hurt. Now your hurt feelings are your attitudes, your moods, and your thoughts. They are your evaluation that you have not been fairly treated. Do you “have” to make such an evaluation? Must you keep on pondering the sins of others against you? Is it required that you magnify yourself at the expense of the one sinning against you? No! And, indeed, it is not even desirable for you to do so. In what other way could you evaluate the sin-drenched moment of being treated badly by others? If you chose to, you could consider the condition of the other person. What is his or her relationship to God? What response of yours would be in their best interest? How could you minister to this person in their sin? By turning the tables from your interest to theirs, you would go from “being hurt” to being used by God to minister to a troubled or difficult person. So you see being hurt is a choice. But, focusing, loving, and ministering to others is also a choice, a far better one.
6) Healing Emotional Wounds - From this you can see that hurt feelings are very often a lack of love on the part of the person being ‘hurt.’ There is an intrinsic self-centeredness that drives most ‘hurt feelings.’ You get hurt because you see yourself as being somewhat important. In addition, you see yourself being esteemed by this difficult person as less significant than you think you ought to be. If others were to recognize your right to be treated with respect or consideration, then they would not say or do such things. At bottom, their failure to ‘respect’ you is the problem.
Of course, this attitude of self-importance is very wrong. But, a theologically erroneous and humanisticly aggressive self-image movement labors to tell you otherwise. You are told how important, good, virtuous, valuable, and worthy you are to both God and man. That being the case, how dare others not treat you with the deference and respect you deserve? After all, you are important! The bad news, however, is that you have been lied to. Such human grandiosity is in blatant opposition to your condition in Adam as described in the Bible. In the Scriptures you learn that actually you are a sinner, deserving eternal damnation.
7) Healing Emotional Wounds - Now in all this, we do not lose sight of the fact that man is made in the image of God, and because of that royal image man is indeed important. Furthermore, when man is remade in that image in salvation, that fact becomes even more significant. This royal image is central to man’s existence and is critical to man’s understanding of his role on this earth. We must not forget this, but nor must we forget that this image is horribly marred in the Fall, either. It is from this point of man’s fall into sin that we here speak.
8) Healing Emotional Wounds - It has always been man’s desire to “be as God.” His attitude toward himself inevitably demonstrates that. Indeed, the fall of the human race in Adam has in some ways made men closer to devils than to God. So, the truth is you are not important. You have no intrinsic self-worth. Your self-worth in God’s eyes is described in Isaiah, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV). Jesus Christ in speaking to the scribes and Pharisees said “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God” (John 5:44, NIV)? The desire for praise and admiration by men stood between the religious leaders and faith in Christ. It still does. In seeking to be accepted, admired, respected, and recognized for your inherent value, you are doing the same thing these Pharisees were doing, seeking praise and admiration from men. That is why you get your feelings hurt.
King David described himself, and us, by saying, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5, NIV). As a result of this sinful nature, inherited from Adam, you were born thinking more of yourself, and less of God, than you should. This is your problem. You are a sinner, one who deserves damnation in hell for eternity. That is your condition or "worth" in God’s eyes. This idea of our worthlessness is anathema to many believers today. They have heard so often the refrain that we need to have a healthy “self-image” that they have left off following Scripture altogether at this point. Paul says in II Timothy, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves...” (II Timothy 3:1-2, NIV). Such, it appears, is our day. Just a generation ago the great hymn At The Cross, was enthusiastically sung with the words,
Alas, and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?
The sons and daughters of those who sang those hymns now mock such godly humility by calling it “worm theology.” But the Scriptural refrain to such thinking is “...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV). Self-admiration cannot stand in the face of God’s holiness and our wretchedness.
9) Healing Emotional Wounds - But notwithstanding what you are and deserve, God in His great love sent His son to die for His children. He did not do that because He saw in you something of more worth or value than what He saw in others. No doubt many others have more humility, morality, and kindness than can be found in you. But notwithstanding what you are, from the councils of eternity He chose you, in spite of what you are, not because of what you are. There is no reason why anyone should respect or esteem you, considering what you have done to God - least of all God Himself.
Ultimately, to resolve this problem of self-admiration, you must begin to think less of yourself and more of God. You must value not what you are, but what He is, the Holy God of all creation. In reversing the order, putting God upon the throne and taking yourself off the throne, you will find solution to your problem.
In redeeming you, God saved you to be a bondservant of Christ and of His Church. You were not saved to lord it over anyone, just to serve. Although saved, you are not yet fully sanctified. For this reason you see yourself as being something you are not: important. This lies at the bottom of your hurt feelings; it is a lack of recognition of who you are, how important you are and how significant you are. Healing emotional wounds Scripturally makes great demands on the child of God.