Whether self-inflicted or through harsh circumstances, everyone experiences pain. Hard times don’t discriminate. Such pain can take years or decades to reconcile or heal from. Sadly, some of us carry so much weight from past hurts that we are unable to fully function in life. Though the Lord may want to bless us and restore our souls, we are so chained to the grief, we remain stuck.
In the mental health field, I find the greatest tragedy isn’t always the painful event itself, but our response to it. Choosing to heal comes only after acknowledging the point of grief. If you carry hurt in your life that you need healing from, it’s best to start with identifying what kind of wound you have.
Here are 7 hurts you may need to find healing from:
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1. Your Failures
One hurt we often neglect to realize is the one that starts with us. For most of us, we’ve made mistakes that we wish we can take back. Whether we’ve messed up a major business opportunity, disappointed our family with a bad choice, or caused pain to someone we love, it can be hardest to forgive ourselves.
Yet, we must come to grips with the fact that we are not perfect. In fact, God knows that we are full of flaws and miss the mark, but He still thought we were worth dying for. He still chose to forgive us even before we messed up. When we are healed, our previous error is no longer a sign of weakness, but proof of overcoming and redemption.
Rather than remaining chained by your mistakes, let your mess up turn into your message. As He has forgiven us out of His great love, let us not forget to forgive ourselves.
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2. Past Relationships
Your ex-friend, fiancé, or husband may have delivered a harsh blow of pain. Truthfully, we’ve all wished we could just cross out the one who’s hurt us from our memory. However, this is not the reality we live in. The pain they’ve caused us must be healed. The truth is we can spend so much time dwelling on pain from our former relationships that we sabotage our current relationships. We must learn how we can learn from every experience and interaction. This means that the Lord has something to show us about his redemptive power through every source of pain:
- The betrayal taught you to be a good judge of character.
- The abandonment taught you to cherish those who are faithful to you.
- The rejection taught you how to love people better.
In other words, for every wound, the Lord has the ability to redeem and restore.
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No one knew the pain of betrayal like Joseph in the Bible. Sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused by his master’s wife, and forgotten by a friend, he went through betrayal many times along his journey. Yet, with each humbling experience, the Lord blessed him and helped him reach a place of healing.
Some of us have experienced so much betrayal that we choose to dwell on the pain more than His faithfulness. Even more so, we start to believe that others will betray us in the same manner, and we project this fear onto anyone who tries to get close. Years ago, I went through a deep betrayal with close friends. After years of pain, I had to ask myself: How much more will I allow them to take from me?
The truth is the betrayal caused me bitterness—I constantly mentally replayed the events in envy and anger. At one point, I allowed myself to be robbed of joy because my mind would always remember how “they hurt me.” Allowing God to heal me of this pain was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I can now be reminded that their choices don’t reflect God’s heart for me and that by allowing myself to stay hurt, I only robbed myself.
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10)
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4. Father Wounds
There have been numerous studies on the affects of fathers in the home. Sadly, each of them paint a cringe-worthy picture of what can occur when the father is absent. Whether you lived in a home without a father, had an abusive father, or one who was an alcoholic, so many of us have unpleasant stories about those who were never quite “there.”
These wounds, from not having a strong father in the home, can affect our lives even now. In my own life, it took me years to trust men or see God as a loving Father due to my personal pain. One tip that can bring healing is to write a forgiveness letter. Though it’s likely your father will never see the letter, a forgiveness letter allows you to share your heart and your most intimate pain. While you write, the Lord will start to minister to you and heal you from the trauma.
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5. Unmet Expectations
One hurt that is not often discussed is the pain of not living up to your own expectations. Many plan from childhood their ideal career, spouse, family size, and income status. However, when life doesn’t deliver our expectations, we can start to resent the life we’ve created. This hurt not only affects us, but also those we love the most. In many cases, we may find ourselves sharing what “would have been” or “should have.”
In my own life, I would often hear my mother sharing how she planned to be a nurse before learning she was pregnant with me. As I watched her work hard at a job she hated, I felt a sense of pain, knowing that somehow interfered with “her plan.”
When we face the reality of how life looks different than our initial desires, we have to take a moment to self-reflect. Do we trust God’s plans for us? Do we trust that God is in control? Do we trust that if God redirected us, it was for our good?
When we process these questions in an honest way and choose to trust the Lord for our next step, we can journey towards healing. When we stay frustrated about the way our lives have progressed, we live a life of discontentment. This only hurts us more in the long run. When experiencing this pain, ask the Lord to highlight one thing daily that you can be thankful for.
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6. Church Hurt
If you’ve ever dealt with people, you’ve experienced hurt. Though we have the expectation that those in the church would be intentional about caring for one another, we have to recognize that none of us are perfect. Thus, we will always be learning, failing, and learning again how to care for one another and be examples of Christ.
We often attribute the pain experienced in one church to all churches. Interestingly, we don’t hold this same standard when it comes to non-church entities. Truthfully, if we had one bad experience at a restaurant, would we never go to another restaurant? Chances are, we would assume that our bad experience was isolated and continue to try new restaurants that fit your taste.
Though finding churches is a much more delicate topic than finding a restaurant, we should still be willing to try again. In the context of healthy churches, we can thrive and find community that fills in the gap when we are in need. The enemy knows that if he can keep you isolated from other believers you are an easier target. Ask the Lord to heal you from the pain you may have experienced. You never know how you can be a blessing to a new church. You can find tips for finding a church home here.
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7. Childhood Pain
The first thing any counselor will ask you is to tell them about your childhood. As a Professor of Developmental Psychology, I am keenly aware that childhood sets the foundation for how we will navigate our lives. Depending on the level of abuse, neglect, or grief you encountered, you may have a hard time dealing with people to this day.
In most cases, pain from childhood is something you had very little control over. However, making a choice to forgive and move forward will be your choice. Left unchecked, these pains may manifest in our homes and continue the cycle. If you have deep hurt from childhood, a trained counselor can help you navigate those emotions. Ultimately, the Lord is more than capable of helping you to be healed.
Your pain will either keep you shackled or become a powerful testimony. Today, my prayer for you is that you recognize the source of the hurt and allow the Lord to heal those broken places. Surely, He makes all things new!
Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister’s wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life. Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.
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Originally published Monday, 01 July 2019.