“Lord, Heal My Hurts“ prays Kay Arthur in the title of a book on the shelf beside me. I see that cover every day and nearly as often send that prayer to the heavens, pleading God will heal the gaping wounds and stiffening scabs on my own heart.
Over the last two decades, I’ve experienced my fair share of hurts, most of them still too raw and personal to share publicly. I have been disowned, disavowed, slandered, scorned, humiliated, betrayed, criticized, condemned, lied about, and stolen from. All of them by Christians. Each time by a close friend or family member.
You have been hurt, too.
As isolating, painful, and unique as each situation, it isn’t anything new. Christ experienced these trials, as did each of the heroes of our faith. Your best friend has been hurt, and you likely see hurting brothers and sisters across the aisle at church.
But when the perpetrator of these wounds is a friend, a family member, or fellow Christian, the pain feels all the more severe. That sudden, shocking realization that all is not what it seems in the relationship, the reality of unrequited love, and the turmoil of confusion make a close pain more powerful.
And we’re left asking “Why?”
Why the lies, the deceit, the betrayal of love and trust? How could someone repay good with evil? How can the natural laws of good and evil be set on their head within what should have been a godly, loving relationship?
Many of these questions will never be answered until eternity, but the answers to some of them lie in the nature of people themselves. By understanding some of the reasons people hurt us, we can begin to make sense of the pain and start the process of healing.
Why People Hurt Us
If you have recently been hurt by a close friend, look for some or all of these traits and begin praying for healing in these areas.
1. They are hurting.
It’s trite, but oh, too true:
Hurting people hurt people.
You may know why. Perhaps a marriage is on the rocks, a child is wandering, or a business is floundering. Maybe there are deeper reasons — a long-ago abuse or abandonment that was never fully dealt with.
Or maybe you don’t even see the wounds being nursed in secret.
Regardless, the person who is lashing out at you is likely reacting to an even more debilitating problem. The pain and fear from such an injury causes them to lash out instinctively, hurting those nearby. Those who are ignoring a festering wound soon lose all perspective of healthy relationships and instinctively lash out at anyone near, destroying relationships that were meant to heal.
2. They are afraid.
Fear makes us do crazy, terrible things. The person who hurt you may be consumed by fear — fear of losing reputation, livelihood, loved ones, ministry, or respect. Like a cornered wild animal, a fearful person will try to “get them before they get me.” Whether or not the fear is founded, once it becomes real in the mind, it is a powerful motivator. Imagined slights, misconstrued actions, and exaggerated gossip becomes fuel for the frantic.
God reminds us that instead of the spirit of fear, He has given us power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). The opposite of power, love, and mental clarity is fear — and we see that in hurting people every day.
3. They are prideful.
It’s the number-one sin for a reason. Pride in one’s self, one’s accomplishments, and one’s person can easily become all-consuming. A prideful person can not stand competition for praise, glory, attention, or relationships. Any perceived slight must be eliminated, and any action to preserve self is easily justified. That causes hurtful actions to those nearby who may have unwittingly “stolen the show” from the prideful one.
4. They lack faith.
It takes faith, tremendous faith, to allow God to work out difficult circumstances for his glory and in his time. The fleshly response is to take matters into our own hands, to defend and protect our self. How hard to wait and see God work, to clear up a misunderstanding, to provide finances, to grow a relationship, to change a heart, to bless a ministry. Faith is hard. Hurting others, tragically, is too easy.
5. They don’t know the breadth of God’s love.
A sad place many Christians live is far from knowing God’s love. They talk of grace and forgiveness, salvation and healing, but deep, dark down inside, they don’t really know, really experience what that means personally. They fear their sin, they hide their shame, they build walls and false fronts and rules and robes to divert attention from the shocking truth:
God saved this sinner, and He still saves me from sin every day.
And that’s where we are, hurting friends. We have been deeply stabbed by sinful friends — hurting, fearful, prideful, faithless, floundering friends.
And now that’s where we are, too.
In the mirror, staring back at you with red-rimmed, hollow eyes is a hurting Christian. Recently wounded by a familiar friend, that reflection is so afraid to walk through the aftermath or even venture toward hope. Instead, her heart cries out, “WHY ME? Don’t you know who I was and what I did for you?” in pride and humiliation. The wounded has become the hurting, fearful, self-centered soul crying for faith and love.
Look up, dear, hurting one. Look toward God and the plan he is unfolding for you in his time and in his own way. Reflect on what Christ has done for you, how much he forgives you every day, the mercies he continually bestows.
Pray for your enemy.
Stop the cycle.
Change your world.