Most of us have been hurt by someone at some point in our lives, and we have shrugged it off, dealt with it, or kept it on our minds. Each person reacts differently, and most move on. However, some find it difficult to get over a past hurt. Are you one of those persons? If yes, what is your reason for holding on to the hurt? Do you really want to let go?
Take the story of Pat and her husband, Michael. Pat sensed that something was up with Michael. He was not as warm as he used to be and became impatient and annoyed at everything she did. She tried to get him to talk about what was bothering him, but could not get through to him. She thought the problem was his job, but it was not. She dismissed the idea of him straying. She knew that he loved her and the children too much to jeopardize their marriage. However, there were signs she could not ignore, such as his abruptly ending conversations when she came around, his lack of communication, and him not wanting to have sex! She decided to investigate. While she had never pried into his stuff because she trusted him and snooping went against her morals, he had created this problem so all bets were off. She found evidence of an affair and was devastated.
Pat went through a range of emotions. At first she was in shock. She could not believe what was happening to her. She thought it was a mistake and that Michael would have a good explanation. She trusted him and never contemplated his doing such a thing. She was crushed and feelings of insecurity washed over her. She searched for a reason for his infidelity. She questioned what she did wrong, whether she took him for granted, and what had made him unhappy, but could not pinpoint anything specific that would have turned him off from her. They were buddies, had fun, and enjoyed a good life.
Then Pat got angry. However, she decided not to confront Michael for fear she would get violent with him. The question that kept haunting her was, “How could he do this to me?” She knew that she would leave him as the thought of him touching her filled her with disgust. However, before she left she wanted to hurt him badly and make him pay. She thought about having someone beat him up or cheating on him. She would have an affair and flaunt it, preferably with a friend of his, or better yet, with someone he did not like!
Michael’s version was that the affair was unintentional. He did not set out to have one. The other woman, Maryann, had begun flirting with him a few months back, one thing had led to another, and he ended up at her apartment. Michael had not been with anyone else since he got married, and knew he had to be careful around Pat. He also knew that she would not take it lightly and would never forgive him. But he figured it was just sex, nothing to it. Maryann knew that he would not leave his wife for her. However, what shocked Michael was that after he slept with Maryann, he regretted it! He could not believe it. While he had enjoyed their time together, the thrill was gone. He thought that he could play the game as easily as back in the day, but suddenly knew he could not separate the sexual act from his feelings. He had been playing with fire when he responded to Maryann’s flirtations, but felt that he would not follow through because he loved Pat. He had checked out women from afar, but was quite happy with his marriage and so had never strayed. He had both male and female friends who cheated, and wondered how they did it with a clear conscience. He convinced himself that his fling was nothing and planned to make it up to Pat. He hoped that Pat would not find out because he knew she would leave and take the children. He could not live without them. He was happy with Pat and their life together, and had shut her out as a cover. He could not let this slip mess up what they had built. He had risked it all…and for what? Michael still felt uneasy and prayed to God for help. He knew he had made a stupid mistake and was wrong to even go there. In thinking about mending his relationship to Pat, he felt moved to confess everything to her and plead for forgiveness.
Pat had become a Christian a year ago, but Michael had not. Although he believed in God, he was not willing to “go all out.” Pat was still set on revenge, but wanted to speak with God one last time before making her move. She recalled the joy she had experienced when she accepted Jesus. Having a relationship with Him had done wonders in building her spiritually. As she reminisced on her journey, she heard the inner voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “So you had one setback and are going to throw it all away? Where is your faith?” “Ah, I have faith in God, but not in man,” Pat answered. The Holy Spirit replied, “Oh, are you squeaky clean? What about the things you did wrong for which God has forgiven you? As a Christian you have to set the example by doing what Christ would have done. You will have trials and the test would be to see how you overcome them and what you glean from the experiences. Remember, the power of Christ is within you.” “I know,” she whispered, “but I cannot get over it. I am a good wife, mother, and I am smart, attractive, and sexy as hell! What more could he want?” The Holy Spirit said, “It is not about what you did or did not do. Everyone is responsible for their own actions.” As she continued to listen, she became still allowing herself to be totally in the moment. Then she began to experience a wonderful sense of peace, the feeling spread deep within her soul. She fell to her knees and thanked God for His love and goodness to her. She had been so caught up with thoughts of revenge that she had not considered the other option…the one of forgiveness.
Therein lies the answer of getting over the hurt—forgiveness. If you want to move on and free yourself of a heavy heart, you must forgive the wrong. Forgiveness does not mean that you will forget the incident or there would be no repercussion or unaccountability. When you forgive someone you retain your power; that person or incident no longer has control over you. Forgiveness releases the “forgiver” more so than the “forgivee.” In a sense, forgiveness is a selfish act—you unload the burden and there is peace. It may take a while to forgive, but it would be beneficial to you to do it sooner rather than later. Why did they do that or why did that happen? All the questions you have will not resolve the issue. Oftentimes when you do get answers they are pitiful and unfulfilling, leaving you with more questions. Having an unforgiving heart and holding on to past hurts will keep you paralyzed. That person or incident will dictate all your actions—you will not attend an event because you know that the person will be there or you will go out of your way to avoid a person or place. You may even focus your time, energy, and resources, to the extent that if you do not have that to identify with, you have nothing. What is ironic is that the person who has offended you is living a guilt-free life totally oblivious to you and your feelings! Is it worth it? Do you really want to live the rest of your life hurt, angry, bitter, and lonely? Pat knew those things would immobilize her. In allowing herself to forgive Michael, she ignited a light within that healed and freed her to move forward. Forgiveness unleashed the tension and vengeance that she harbored and opened her up to the fullness of life…and it can do the same for you.