One of the worst feelings in the world.
Everybody will go through multiple times of being wounded during the course of their lifetime.
Because most situations of being wounded stem from vulnerability, and being vulnerable is a part of everyday life, it is imperative for everybody to understand how to favorably respond to being wounded.
There are limitless ways you allow yourself to be vulnerable each and every day:
- You develop friendships
- You go to church and trust the leadership and relationships you develop there
- You pour into family and friends
- You share or pitch professional ideas at work
- You trust someone by confiding in them
- You invest in or mentor others
- You date, consider giving someone your heart, fall in love, and/or get married
- You share details about your testimony or life story
- You achieve something significant in life
- You fail at something or a relationship in life
- You make a poor decision in life
- You share your dreams and goals with others
- You strive to achieve something great
- You write about your life and/or your hobbies/interests in life
Yet, you end up
Yes, everybody, at some point in their life, will end up being deeply wounded.
Did you know being deeply wounded can change who you are as a person?
It can bring out an anxiety or ugliness inside you that you never knew existed.
Ultimately, it can plant a seed of bitterness that, if not dealt with, can harvest a huge crop of unending discord, disappointment, dissatisfaction, or even create deep depression, hatred, or resentment in your heart.
Being wounded is a terrible experience to go through, yet, being wounded is one of the most significant spiritual opportunities God can allow you to experience.
I wouldn’t have thought this to be true a few weeks ago, right before finally experiencing a major breakthrough after being incredibly wounded. What God has taught me through being deeply offended and wounded opened my eyes to the significant opportunity woundedness offers, though.
Just for the record…no one in their right mind would cheerfully sign up for being wounded to learn any spiritual lessons…and no one will be skipping through fields of flowers after learning those meaningful lessons…but if you ever find yourself wounded or offended, you may as well learn the powerful lessons it has to offer.
If you gotta GO through it, you may as well GROW through it!
The last few years, God has been working in my life and showing me how to handle being wounded.
Multiple situations have arose that have given me, and my family, the opportunity to learn quite a bit through being unfairly wronged.
It has not been an easy road to be on.
In fact, there were many moments of anger, despair, frustration, and many tears. And to be completely honest, even some not-so-godly thoughts towards the offenders/wounders.
Many people I know, including myself, do not initially always pass the test when unfairly wronged or wounded. It’s easier to react than to respond favorably after someone has greatly hurt or offended you or a loved one…especially if it significantly altered your life.
What do you do when an offense is so great that forgiveness is not easily accomplished?
What is your plan of action when the resentment you feel brews stronger than the blackest dark roast coffee? What about when you see the person who wounded you or you think about the incredibly damaging effects their offense has had on you or your loved ones?
It can be super hard to forgive some offenses.
The greater or more costly the offense, the harder it is to genuinely forgive and move forward in peace…but to forgive and move forward in peace should be the ultimate goal.
I want to share with you a few things that helped me through some tough times in forgiving others.
Some steps I took helped me tremendously and I hope they are a big help and encouragement to anyone going through being wounded or wronged, as well as anyone who may be battling bitterness.
Some at this point may be nursing deep wounds. They want to move forward but the offense was a lot to bear…it may even currently still be a lot to bear.
Many times, an offense can have lifelong consequences.
A wounded person really only has three choices:
- Push back the emotions and try to act as though the offense never occurred…basically ignoring the issue
- Feed any resentment or bitterness
- Work on forgiveness as you grow through the situation and move forward in peace
Someone who has been wronged can choose the typical responses to being wounded:
- get mad
- dislike or resent difficult people
- have bad thoughts or pray against them (hey, King David harshly prayed against his enemies throughout the book of Psalms)
- tarnish their reputation through speaking lies, exaggerations…or unflattering truths…about them
- be revengeful
- ultimately plant seeds of bitterness in their heart
These actions will most likely make a wounded person feel better at first…but at what cost to their own heart and soul?
Booker T. Washington once said, “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”
Isn’t that the truth? When we hate others, it belittles our own soul…it does absolutely nothing to the person who was wounding.
A very good friend shared with me something similar, “Being bitter towards your offender is like you drinking poison but expecting your offender to die.”
It’s true…Bitterness hardens and poisons YOUR heart, damages YOUR soul, and changes who YOU are as a person. Trust me, I know this personally after becoming bitter towards people who deeply wronged and wounded my family and me.
You may think to yourself, “Won’t I know if I’m becoming bitter?”
Bitterness creeps in very slowly.
No one plans on becoming or being bitter, but without major self reflection, you won’t immediately realize or see the true effects.
Most people do not recognize their own bitterness.
I speak from personal experience…I didn’t realize how bitter I was until a friend called me out on it.
While nursing some deep wounds after going through a very tough situation with a loved one who was wronged, I took up a major offense towards the offenders involved.
Was it wrong to want justice? Absolutely not.
Is it wrong to expect people to do the right thing or apologize? Not at all!
It becomes wrong when justice…and a well fed grudge…becomes more important than God and good character.
We all know we should forgive others, but are you worried you won’t be able to truly forgive and move forward because the person(s) who wounded you (or your loved one) isn’t even remotely sorry for their offense(s)?
Don’t worry…you can take these steps whether your offender is sorry or not.
I learned that forgiveness, resolution, and/or restoration did not have to take place for me to clean out my own heart and do the honorable thing in God’s eyes.
Don’t get me wrong: it was not easy to forgive, but I had a “fork in the road” decision to make:
- I could hold onto the hurts and offenses
- I could have a healthy relationship with God and peace in my soul
I found I could not have it both ways.
It took time and forgiving this particular situation was not instantaneous…and there are still days a bad thought will pop into my head, prodding me to renew my grudge.
So how do you get an offender out of your head?
For me, it was helpful to put my thoughts into proper perspective and to look into the motives.
Some offenders do not care that they wounded another person. Thoughts of the people they’ve hurt or offended are non-existent to the offender. They couldn’t care less.
With that said, when an offender has caused major loss in life…I began to realize that I was not going to allow additional loss by allowing them to live rent free inside my thought life.
Other offenders may not realize the depth they have wounded others. A simple conversation can clear things up quickly.
As I prayed about how to best deal with multiple situations (the original offense had a domino effect, creating additional situations), God was good to give me solid insight into freeing my soul from being wounded.
The following steps were life-giving to me and helped me to overcome my bitterness.
Praying these steps are of great help to somebody today!
1. View your offender through God’s eyes~
Yes, this can be a tall order. After all, shouldn’t God be on our team and dislike our offender as much as we do?
God loves and adores each person He created…equally. There is no favoritism with Him. From Billy Graham down to the worst person on the planet, God wants what is best for each person. All are deeply loved and incredibly treasured by Him.
When we view our offender through our own eyes, all we will see is the ugliness they have done. We will no longer see any of the good they have in them. We stop viewing them as a whole, we instead only view their terribly wounding offense(s) as well as every character flaw they possess.
It’s important to realize that no matter what they’ve done to us personally, they still have great value in God’s eyes.
God has a big purpose and plan for their life…no matter what they have done…and He greatly desires for them to have an abundant life.
He created them, and He has a plan for them to do wonderful works, too.
Their offense is not the totality of who they are as a person; it is a very poor choice they made.
What if I still can’t remove the resentment or bitterness I feel?
It personally helps me to remember a quote my son once shared with me: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”
I remember that I am deeply flawed and remind myself of the mercy I need daily.
I also make sure I remember and fully realize what God has done for me and how He forgives me.
Many testimonies have stemmed out of deep heartache.
Today’s heartache could very well be tomorrow’s testimony that helps many.
2. Truly seek to understand~
What is the entirety of the situation? Is just one party at fault, both parties, or multiple parties?
Ask yourself, “Did they intentionally wound me on purpose?”…”What was their true motive or intent?”…”Were they reacting?”
Sometimes, the people who wound us did not truly intend to wound or offend us.
Thoughtlessness is prevalent in the self-saturated society we live in. Most people only look at a situation through their own eyes…and most do not even attempt to put their own self in the other person’s shoes to
see how truly hurtful and offensive their actions were.
People are fallible, flawed, and do not always go into their decisions thoughtfully, and they don’t always have the maturity or the life experience to know how to best handle relationships, situations, or decisions.
Not everybody has developed good character or wisdom for each and every situation in life either.
Everybody needs mercy…ourselves included.
Think of all the times you offended or wounded others. Did you truly go into it thinking how you were going to wound, wrong, or offend someone?
Also consider, were the offending person’s actions due to taking up an offense for someone they perceived was wronged?
You might be thinking, “This chick doesn’t know what she’s talking about…some people are just jerks,“…I wholeheartedly agree that can be completely true about some people.
So many factors go into the wounding actions of others.
Seeking to understand truly is key.
3. Look at how your situation personally applies VERTICALLY to God~
Majority of the time, we are doing to God, or somebody else, exactly what another person is doing to us or a loved one.
When you genuinely ask “How have I, or any of my loved ones, betrayed, hurt, or wounded God or others?“
This vertical question turns a wounding reality into a convicting reality as one thinks about how many times they have hurt God or not been loyal or faithful to Him.
Idolatry and choosing to be bitter are both sins…yet we don’t always view our offenses toward God in the same manner, or as seriously, as we view our offender’s offenses towards ourselves.
When we train ourselves to see life challenges or offenses through a vertical lens, no matter the topic, we clearly see how universally we have hurt God and others in similar situations.
Next time you’re offended, truly check to see if you are doing the same offense towards God or someone else.
In some situations, that totally is not the case, but many times, the answer is unfavorable.
4. Seek to see what you can learn through the offense you are going through~
Offenses can teach us important life lessons. An offense may even prevent something worse from happening in the future due to the wisdom you learn from a previous offense.
We must be open to God so He can show us how to wisely navigate through offensive or hurtful situations. Without His guidance, we might miss crucial wisdom.
Tough situations in life will either make us better or bitter.
When we choose to be better through a challenging experience, rewards eventually come our way.
When we choose to be bitter, we will most likely go through additional loss…and will go through a similar situation to learn the lesson we missed.
As I was at coffee with two very good friends…friends I am very authentic and vulnerable with; both ladies are trustworthy accountability partners to me…I asked for advice on how to get over the feelings I was feeling. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the bitterness I felt after a situation of deep offense and woundedness.
I prayed about it…went through the steps of forgiving the offense several times…tried to let it go…even invested kind words into some of those who were responsible for the wounding offense…but nothing seemed to have any lasting power.
I couldn’t shake it.
After a time of deep prayer, I began to clearly see that God allowed the deep offenses so I could learn how to overcome bitterness when others are not sorry…and this is greatly helping me to help others in my grief ministry who are going through situations where they have been deeply wounded.
It’s easy to forgive someone when they come to you and apologize. It’s a bit more challenging when they’ve created an extensive amount of damage, and then are aloof, uncaring, or insensitive to the situation they created.
It is beyond important to understand that God will sometimes allow a wounding situation for a specific reason….not cause it, but allow it…and good can come out of any situation, whether the offensive party is sorry or not.
Not saying it’s easy…because it usually is not...but there are very specific lessons we can learn through being wounded…lessons that will ultimately free us and eventually help us later in life. It can also help us to be a source of encouragement to others who are going through a similar situation.
We also learn the value of waiting on God and trusting Him to genuinely work out difficult situations in His perfect timing.
I can assure you that the heartache and struggles you are going through are not in vain. Like Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church says, “God never wastes a hurt. We sometimes do, but God does not.”
So while you are waiting, what about your offender?
You can be sure God will hold your offender accountable. God never allows anyone to get away with wounding others…ourselves included.
One day, EVERYBODY will give an account for the ways they have wounded and wronged others. Everybody will also have to give an account for how they handled wounding situations, too.
This next step was the most important one. I found this step to be the ultimate step that gave me freedom from bitterness…And, it was my least favorite step to take!
When my friend suggested I do this next step, that one day at the coffee date I told you about earlier, I remember seriously cringing.
I’m so grateful I did this next step though, because it brought me the peace I needed to genuinely move forward.
5. Pray God BLESSES your offender and invest in your offender’s life by praying for them~
You may be thinking, “ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!!!”
I mean, who wants to ask God to bless an offensive, hurtful, wounding, or problematic person?
Most do not want to ask God to bless their offenders. The people who have wounded you most likely have created havoc or greatly altered life as you knew it due to their wounding actions and decisions.
If most people are truly honest, they want God to do the OPPOSITE of bless their offenders.
I know I initially felt this way, especially since my family and I continue to experience consequences of the offender(s) actions.
I felt that way until I realized a harsh reality..what if God had the same attitude towards my family and me for all the times we have wounded His heart?
The fact that God chooses to forgive, love, and bless me is reason enough for me to choose to forgive and bless an offender through praying for God to bless them.
I had to remember that the offenders who wounded us were created in God’s image. They are deeply loved by Him.
God has incredible life purposes and plans for their lives.
And since they are also believers, we are all going to be living in the exact same Heaven someday.
We are on the same team, but we were all deceived by a greater enemy to engage in hurtful conflict.
I try to continually choose to be the mercy today that I want to receive tomorrow…because I’m in need of mercy, too.
Someone, most likely, could have authored this same blog post about me at some point in my life.
Everybody has been wounded because we all wound others.
We need to look to the One who has been wounded more than anyone else…and learn how to love, forgive, and bless others from His incredible viewpoint and example.
So since we are all fallible, does that just give everybody a hall pass to wound others and expect forgiveness no matter what?
Not at all! Each person, including ourselves, should make it a goal to be mindful of how we treat others.
If we offend someone, it is our responsibility to make things right. The ultimate goal is to treat others with such honor and kindness that wounding others never becomes an option in the first place.
So after you forgive someone, it’s instant and permanent, and you’ll never be challenged to resent or dislike the person ever again, right?
I wish! The truth is, forgiveness is a choice. Even though forgiveness is instant, it may take time for the heart and feelings to catch up.
I have found that forgiving is a daily choice.
Whenever a bitter or wounded thought comes to my mind, or a negative thought comes to mind about the offenders, I immediately use those thoughts as a signal to pray for them and the situation of conflict.
Pray God outrageously blesses your offender and pray He genuinely works through the situation of conflict in His way. Be sure to also ask God to heal your heart!
God proves Himself faithful in the toughest situations when we do things His way and as we look at our offenders and our tough life situations through His eyes! It isn’t always easy but it is rewarding.
6. Realize that majority of conflict is simply a decoy to what God wants to do in the lives of the people affected by the conflict~
We are in battle with an enemy…but the enemy is not who we think it is.
We faultily think the enemy is our offender, when in reality, our enemy is from a completely different realm.
This is especially true when conflict happens between families, fellow believers, and in churches.
Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”
If you have experienced conflict with a family member, a fellow Christian, or in your church or with church staff, you can be sure that the enemy knew the positive potential the people involved in the conflict could have.
Now I am not advocating condoning another person’s poor choices or behavior, or excusing the wrong they did, and forgiveness does not mean we foolishly throw ourselves into unwise relationships or bad situations. Forgiveness is simply a loving courtesy we extend to others because God extends that same love and courtesy to us. We must ultimately trust God to deal with the situation and people involved in His own way and His time.
So, what if you STILL do not want to forgive an offender?
Consider Job and Joseph in the Bible.
God shows the importance of forgiving others through both of these men’s lives.
Although both experienced excruciating hardships and unbearable heartache, both chose to trust God and take the higher road after being wounded.
As a result, both reaped incredible blessings and favor from God for doing so…in fact, Job only found favor through his grief experience after he chose to forgive his friends and interceded for them in prayer. That is the exact moment God restored Job…and gave him a double portion of favor.
There is no sane explanation, but freedom usually comes only through forgiveness, and praying for the offender(s).
7. Realize that being wounded (and also conflict…even rejection) is necessary to make us more like Christ~
The most trying times in life are usually what brings about the most spiritual growth.
When life is going great, nothing is tested. It’s easy to be good and kind to others…when they are good or kind to us.
But, when those around us are wounding, offensive, rude, or unkind, it truly tests our character. It also reveals what is in our own heart, too.
Think of all of the people who were absolutely awful to Christ. How did he respond to them?
What was His example?
What would have happened to you or me had He decided to put His offenders in their place by zapping them?
We wouldn’t have known the beauty of the cross or ever realized His incredibly awesome love for us…we wouldn’t be positively changed forever.
Being wounded offers the chance and opportunity to use situations of conflict as “sandpaper” to our heart and soul.
When we choose to go to God with our hurts, He can gently “sand off” the impurities held in our heart as we look at the situation through His eternal perspective and ways.
Ultimately, times of conflict or being wounded are opportunities that allow God to remove hidden sin from our heart, to trust Him through tough situations, and to allow Him to minister to our heart and heal our woundedness through His love and encouragement.
Am I suggesting to let offensive people steamroll over you or blindly let people off the hook? To immediately forgive and love them?
To turn a blind eye to their offense?
I believe that if someone has significantly hurt or wronged you, they should be held accountable in a Christ-like manner.
If after you have deeply prayed about a situation and you feel God is leading you to confront someone who has wronged you, I highly encourage you to follow the biblical blueprint for doing so; and as you do, go in a spirit of humility and self reflection, maintaining good character. (Matthew 18:15-20; Galations 6:1-2; Colossians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Matthew 7; James 5:19-20)
Sometimes, during a confrontation, it is obvious that someone intentionally offended or hurt us…other times, we find out that an offender truly did not mean to hurt or offend us at all. In fact, they were oblivious to the entire situation…this is why it is so important to go into confronting others in a right spirit as we seek to understand the overall picture of the situation.
If you don’t think you can confront someone in a right spirit, wait until you can.
If there are people you feel you should confront, it is important to wait on the right timing, as well as a time where you can truly trust your words and keep your attitude in check.
Do NOT confront someone unless you can trust yourself to not make the situation worse. You may have forgiven an offender, but you may need to work on sorting the situation out further in your heart so you are able to go in a right frame of mind and with a right spirit.
Also, do whatever is most minimal in confronting someone. Many times, a spark is more powerful—and more effective—than a big out of control fireworks show. Only do that which is necessary to move forward in peace.
Ultimately, and ideally, when we confront a person who has been hurtful, we shouldn’t confront in an attitude of “telling them off” or to punish them…it should be from the mindset of genuinely seeking to understand with resolution for both our self, as well as them, so both parties can clear their conscience and move forward in life…better than before the confrontation took place.
This isn’t always achieved, but I think this should be the ultimate goal.
What if a confrontation and/or resolution simply are not possibilities?
I truly believe in resolution when it is possible, but resolution isn’t always obtainable…and it isn’t always in the best interest of the wounded party either, especially if the offender continues to be hurtful and offensive.
A great book to read on this topic is Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.
I also think in situations where there is a great amount of damage, it can be necessary to meet with a trusted pastor or a professional counselor to personally help work the situation out spiritually and emotionally…and they can also give wise counsel on the matter and discuss if it is wise to even confront someone.
It isn’t always best to confront an offender.
I chose not to confront the offenders because I never felt a peace about doing so. I instead chose to trust God completely in the situation and entrusted the details to Him.
When you trust God with the details, I feel it is important to make sure to be mindful in self-reflection so as to see any blind spots that can possibly be in a situation of conflict or woundedness…and learn as much as you can so you don’t miss any vital lessons.
It’s very important to be honest with yourself during times of conflict or woundedness because it does no good to look at another person’s faults if we are being oblivious to our own.
“Beware of no man more than of yourself, for we often carry our worst enemies within us.”
No matter the details or outcome of a situation, I believe that forgiveness is vital…it is just as much for our own heart as it is for our offender(s). Forgiveness must be pursued and resolved within our own self. If it isn’t, the quality of our life, testimony, and our own heart will never become all it can be.
Unforgiveness ultimately harms the vessel in which it resides…and doesn’t harm the person it is aimed at. It’s like loading a gun and aiming it at our own spirit.
As you trust God with working out the details of any situation of woundedness you are going through, give the ENTIRE situation to Him. God has the power to smooth out the rough spots of any situation and work it for our good and His ultimate purposes. As you submit to and obey God, trust Him to give you treasures out of the darkness of the conflicts you face.
Today, make the decision to trust God through any situation that is paining you. Pour your heart out to Him and entrust your problems and cares into His more than capable hands.
Tap into the power of Christ’s strength to make truly forgiving and investing in others through prayer genuinely possible.
With Christ, all things are possible.
Let me leave you with a few verses to encourage you. God is faithful and keeps His Word. I pray He meets you right where you are and brings healing to whatever you are facing today!
© 2015 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.
Psalm 56:8-11, “You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? The day I call to you, my enemies will be turned back. I know this: God is on my side — the Lord, whose promises I praise. In him I trust, and I will not be afraid.”
Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God thought it out unto good, to bring to pass that which we see this day, to give life to many people.”
Psalm 37:3-9, “Trust the Lord and do good; live in the land, and farm faithfulness. Enjoy the Lord, and he will give what your heart asks. Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like high noon. Be still before the Lord, and wait for him. Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead— someone who invents evil schemes. Let go of anger and leave rage behind! Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil. Because evildoers will be eliminated, but those who hope in the Lord, they will possess the land.“
Romans 12:17-19, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.”
Colossians 3:23-25, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”
Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Isaiah 45:2-3, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 , “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
1 Thessalonians 5:15-24, “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”
Gratitude & blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
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FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)