How to Stop the Hateful Cycle of Hurt
The other night, my husband and I were watching Interstellar and the scene in which Matthew McConaughey's character is watching the video messages from his family got me thinking about how our words affect others.
It's so easy to hold grudges, express anger, or lay on the guilt trip. I'm sure we've all done it, and if we say we haven't, we're in denial.
We're not responsible for anyone else's behavior, but I think we should be held partly responsible for how we can make them feel in the present. When we spew anger, hatred, or despair toward others, we need to think about what we are doing to the other person emotionally and physically.
God intended for us to have relationship, to be a blessing to others, to lead them to discover a passion for God. How can we do that through hurtful words? What happened to being like Jesus? Loving all people, even our spouse and our family. Practicing forgiveness. Showing others grace and mercy just like Jesus did.
How can we do that if we're saying hurtful things through our own pain?
We need to have a little grace and mercy when we speak words to others – when we're expressing how we feel, how can we say it in such a way that does not sound hateful or burdensome to the other person?
When we say we need time to forgive, to process the situation or the information, I think that's a human inclination toward self-preservation. It's just an excuse. We have the power to forgive right away. Don't let anyone tell you that you need time to process before you can forgive. The thing that holds us back from forgiving wants to see us fail; he wants to see our relationships suffer, for us to hold grudges, and for us to have regrets.
Forgiveness can look differently depending on the situation. Maybe you've forgiven someone, but you've removed that person from your life. But forgiving means that YOU have moved on and that you've committed to living a life that is not dictated by the hurt done to you.
Allowing time for processing won't necessarily resolve the issue. I don't believe I've ever benefited from allowing myself time to process how someone made me feel. It doesn't make the underlying emotions go away. And oftentimes, it only intensifies those emotions and feeds the fire. Whenever something else comes up, all of those past wrongs pop back up again and intensify how we feel. Only through forgiveness and acceptance can we learn to overcome those past wrongs and focus solely on the new issue that comes up.
It's so easy to bottle things up and then blow up at the tiniest thing. That's why I think it's so important that as issues come up, we need to be letting them go. Getting them resolved and learning how to let them go for good. When someone does something that upsets you, try to see the good in it. Try to see the person's heart. What was he or she thinking?
In Interstellar, Cooper left his children behind for a mission that he believed would save mankind. His daughter begged him to stay and when he didn't, she became angry with him. She held that grudge and bitterness into her 30s and her only video message to her father showed she still had not forgiven him for leaving. That's not a good way to live life.
Words to Live By:
- Don't say things you'll regret later.
- Don't be manipulative.
- Don't hold onto grudges.
- Don't go to bed angry or upset.
- Don't be so self-absorbed that you fail to see how your attitude, behavior, and words affect the lives of those around you.
- Protect your marriage and your relationships.
- Learn from the experiences and mistakes of others.
- Always be willing to learn.
When we learn to have a little grace and mercy, when our focus isn't directed toward the negative side of every situation, we allow ourselves to see the person's heart. Did he really mean those hurtful things that I just heard or did the words just come out wrong? Did she really do that thing to hurt me? Did he really neglect to take the garbage out in a plot to ignore me or to disrespect me?
It's easy for our minds to go straight to the negative or the selfish side. But what if the person simply forgot or what if the person felt he was doing the right thing, something for the greater good?
We have the power to stop the cycle of hurt… by acknowledging it, but then refusing to add to it. Refusing to respond in a hurtful way to get back at the other person. Remember who the real enemy is – it's not your husband or your wife or your friend or your whoever…
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