This is the third part in a series- if you haven’t read the prior posts they can be found here:
Hurdles to Healing (Part 2 of 2)
I am a pro at feeling sorry for myself. I can lick my wounds with the best of them. And often, when it comes to letting go of hurt and moving towards healing, it is this selfish need that hinders me. Why do we do this? What is the reason that people can spend years wallowing in self-pity and never move to a healthier emotional place?
Self-pity feeds the flesh. It is an emotional prison. It turns all our focus inward and gives our feelings full reign over our thoughts and actions. We get to be the victim and feel justified in our hurt. And as with all things that give into our flesh, it feels good…for a while. But after time, when those emotions are left to their own devices, we end up miserable. And, bottom line, that is not the life that Jesus came to give!
Following Jesus doesn’t protect us from heartache, but it does give us the power to overcome! (John 16:33)
What has happened to you may be unjust and unfair. And I have no doubt that the pain and hurt you’re experiencing is very real.
Moving past self-pity doesn’t mean ignoring what’s happened to you or the pain you’ve experienced. What it does mean is that you begin to operate out of a place of healing rather than a place of hurt.
We cannot be healed, whole and free if negative emotions are the driving force in our thoughts and actions. Does this sound familiar? Have you been feeling sorry for yourself for too long? Then let’s take the following action steps together to get to start the process of healing:
#1- How has self-pity affected the way you think and act? Name some specific instances when your negative emotions were the driving force behind your actions.
#2- John 10:10 says that Jesus has come “that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Does that sound like the life you are living right now? If not, how might self-pity be playing a role in stealing that abundant, full life from you?
#3- Take a few moments and read Romans 8:28-39. These verses start off with a promise- that God works good in all things. Can you find at least one good thing that has come out of your situation? Not that what happened was good, but that God has managed to bring something good about through it? Write it down. On days when you are struggling with self-pity, go back to that good thing and thank God for it.
Take a deep breath…
I know you probably don’t want to go there. And honestly? Neither do I. But the truth is, we cannot possibly get to a place of healing if we don’t talk about forgiveness. We cannot heal from hurt and harbor unforgiveness in our hearts. So if you think you’ve healed but you haven’t forgiven who hurt you, chances are there is a deep wound under the surface that, given enough time, will have a deadly effect on your spiritual and emotional life.
The first time that the Bible speaks of forgiveness is in the story of Joseph. If you’re not familiar with the story I encourage you to read it (Genesis 37-50) but let me just give a quick overview. Jospeh had dreams of greatness and the affection of his father, and for that his brothers hated him. They sold him into slavery which began a series of unfortunate events that would eventually lead to Joseph’s imprisonment. But while in prison he was able to interpret some dreams correctly and eventually won the favor of the Pharoah and rose to second in command of Egypt. Years later, Joseph’s brothers would come begging for mercy and help when a famine struck the land. Here, Jospeh had a choice. He could make his brothers pay for what they had done to him, or he could forgive. And he chose radical forgiveness.
I can’t imagine a much worse betrayal than having your own flesh and blood sell you into slavery and essentially steal years of your life away from you. What they did was dirty. So how did he do it? How could Joseph forgive his brothers?
Because he saw the bigger picture.
Joseph realized that his life was about much more than just what could be seen. He was able to acknowledge that God had a plan, even in the suffering and pain he endured…
Because with God, nothing is wasted.
There is something at work that we cannot see. Like the backside of a tapestry, we see a mess of threads and colors and knots that usually don’t make sense. But on the other side, the Master Artist is crafting a brilliant masterpiece and is using the mess to make something beautiful. When we step back from the urgency of our hurt and look at the bigger picture, it frees us up to forgive…
Because we know that God is redeeming our brokenness.
I want you to know that forgiveness is a process. You likely will not forgive someone one time and feel better about the situation. And that’s ok. Forgiveness does not mean that the hurt is automatically erased. And many times, forgiveness will take an intentional surrender of your hurt over and over again as you trust that God is just and loving…
Because most of the time, forgiveness is really about trusting God’s goodness.
We’re going to talk more about forgiveness in another blog post, but for now I encourage you to work through the following steps to begin the process of forgiveness. Even if you feel like you’ve already forgiven your offender, take your time answering these questions- you may be surprised at unrealized hurt you’ve been harboring that God desires to heal.
#1- Take a step away from this situation for a minute and think about the person who hurt you from a different perspective. How could God have been allowing their actions to bring about a positive change in your life or the lives of others?
#2- I want you to think about how God feels about the person who hurt you- not their actions, but their soul. Write down what comes to mind- use scripture if you need help.
#3- Read Matthew 18:21-22. This verse illustrates that there is no limit to the amount of times we must choose forgiveness. And sometimes we must speak it in faith in order for it to take root in our hearts. I encourage you, at some point each day, to say out loud “I forgive you”. Each time you do, imagine the Holy Spirit chipping away at the unforgiveness and bitterness in your heart and bringing about healing.
In my next blog post we’ll look at God’s Perspective on Pain, but until then let’s pray this together:
God, thank you for healing. Jesus, thank you that you died to give me abundant life. I confess that because of pain and hurt in my life I have not been living the abundant life that you offer, and I want that to change. Help me to surrender my feelings of self-pity and operate out of healing rather than hurt. Open my eyes to see how you are using my pain to bring about purpose in my life and the lives of those around me. Help me to surrender my feelings of anger and unforgiveness towards my offender and choose to forgive. Thank you for forgiving me time and time again. Let the forgiveness that you have poured out in my life overflow into the lives of those around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.