Hurt Feelings

As far as weeks go, I’d say this was my least favorite of the year thus far. I hope to not have many more like it and if I can help it, perhaps none at all.

I fought with my friends.  And I was all in my feelings about it. We all were. It was bound to happen. I have this terrible thing that I do. I keep the important things to myself, so when it comes out, it comes out wrong. Loud and wrong. Sometimes, it’s bad because at that point, it isn’t just one thing, it’s a million things. And when you’re secretly harboring a feeling, it will tug at you and magnify just about everything that a person or people do.  That is not to dismiss my own feelings or to say that they weren’t legitimate. They were. But by the end of the conversation, there were hurt feelings all over the place. I mean, going-for-blood-fighting-with-siblings kind of hurt feelings. It can take awhile to recover from that sort of thing. Despite the great displeasure about the whole ordeal, an unforeseen lesson came from it.

I matter.

Paul the Apostle writes a letter to the Philippians, expressing gratitude and love for them. They were so enthusiastic about the Gospel and he wrote to them from jail to say, “Thank you! I’m proud of you! Keep loving God, keep living Christ!” He gave them some advice about how to go about doing that, how to treat each other, what it means to suffer for the cause. Even though this book is an expression of joy, a sincere letter to a group of faithful people, it hit me kind of hard this week. I read it several times in the last few days. Chapter 2 begins with a punch:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

- Philippians 2:1-5, NIV

Well, then! I couldn’t help but feel some conviction.  Paul is telling these lovers of Christ to be a blessing to others.  This made me think long and hard about the dispute I had with my friends.

When we are doing all of the things we should do, when the Holy Spirit is working through us, unchallenged, Paul’s instruction is pretty easy. Admittedly until recently, it’s been pretty easy. People see a change in you when you’re in line with Christ, when you are chasing God. So when I fell out of step and got a little ugly, it mattered. In the conversations following the argument, it was made clear to me that I matter to people. I learned how people really feel, the esteem to which I am held in the eyes of others. I had no idea. And it was easy for me to say hurtful things when my back was against the wall, because I had no idea that I truly was a blessing to others. I guess what I am saying is that I didn’t realize the gravity of my words, just as I am sure they hadn’t realized the gravity of theirs.

Could it be that when we hurt each other, we lose sight of our own worth to others? How interesting and ironic is it that when one humbles themselves and treats others with love and kindness, gentleness and the like, they are the ones held in high esteem! I don’t do it for that, though. I do it because I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. It hurts to hurt others. I am not built that way. When I was in preschool, this girl, who was kind of a bully, told me to poke another little girl in the eye while she was napping. I only did it because I wanted to please the bully. But I made that little girl cry, and I felt terrible. I wanted to hug her and say I’m sorry. Instead, I ran over to my mat and pretended I was napping. I felt guilty. It doesn’t feel to good to hurt people. Even as small children, we find ourselves desiring to put other people’s feelings before our own out of care or concern. It’s innate, I suppose.

And very much like that time I poked that little girl in the eye, I felt the same here. When humility is a priority, we set ourselves up to live like Christ, because we are putting others before us. When we are not in line with Christ, we fall short. We become oblivious to our actions and how much value we hold in the eyes of our brothers and sisters.

I learned that even in my anger, I have to be sensitive to the fact that as a Christian, it isn’t justified to be careless with other people’s feelings. I didn’t think much of the things I said because to be honest, I could hardly remember what I said, I was so angry and had my own hurt feelings. But what I realize is that I HAVE to think much, very much of these things. I am a blessing to others in God’s kingdom, and I am responsible for placing their concerns, interests, thoughts and feelings above my own. When you are trying to give life to the teachings of Jesus, it comes with the territory.

And I’ll be honest, I REALLY hope they feel the same way too. I’ll end with this, from James 1:36 (NIV),

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Phew. Yikes.

submitted by: alexis w.

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6 Responses to Hurt Feelings

  1. Just me says:

    You’re right, it’s not justified to be careless with others feelings. However is it your responsbiility to be responsible for their feelings? Are you to tip toe around how they might react or feel about something you did or said when you are true to yourself while being respectful and loving about it?

    Or should you be true to yourself and do what authentically makes you, you? For example, my grandmother really wants me to go to my cousin’s confirmation at church. However, I’m not interested in going and tell her I’d rather not. She is really hurt and gets mad at me for not going. Is that really my fault? Should I feel bad?

    Or am I being more loving both to her and myself by being true to myself and honouring my decision? Is it not only helping her to mature spiritually and emotionally if I gently tell her I am not going for whatever reason, rather than caving to her and letting her inadvertantly manipulating me to feel guilty to get me to do what she wants? Isn’t she really just imposing her own will on me by trying to guilt me into going against my wishes? Is that loving of her, or loving of me to let her learn to manipulate me? If I let her manipulate me and I cave, I won’t have very loving feelings towards her after that will I? Won’t I just get mad at her for being that way to me, and mad at myself for caving?

    Worse for everyoine involved isn’t it?

    Christianity really is the only religiton that

    • Just me says:

      Christianity really is the only religion that teaches one to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Allowing yourself to be manipulated or guilted into being untrue to yourself is hurtful in the end to everyone.

      Being a Christian isn’t being a doormat. Sometimes true love is doing what is best for the other person and for yourself. Doing what’s best for everyone doesn’t involve manipulation, allowing yourself to be a doormat.

      As long as you can be authentic, step away from your own hurt feelings, and not react out of ego, but only truly be yourself without the intention of hurting the other to build up your own ego, you can be loving even if it doesn’t mean walking on eggshells around others feelings. Usually, the most loving thing you can do is be an aduilt, and gently let the other learn to do the same.

      • Just me says:

        Sorry for this last reply – the question is, if you’re hurting someone purposely out of malice or yourself being hurt ie. ego, that is WRONG.

        If on the other hand someone gets hurt feelings because you aren’t playing into their drama allowing yourself to be manipulated and you remain true to yourself without any attachment to the hurt feelings and not hurting back, then that person is not being mature and responsible for their own feelings. Being responsible for someone else’s feelings and walking on eggshells would be enough to drive anyone insane, and in the end, destroy the relationship through manipulation, guilt and resentment, these are codependent, dysfunctional relationships in the first place.

        Relationships and true love in Christ can only grow in truth and authenticity. Holding others to be adults responsible for their own feelings and reactions, and not caving in to be manipulating to avoid “hurting their feelings”, is the most loving thing a Christian can do.

      • raqbottom says:

        You are right. Being a Christian does not mean we should be a doormat. And I also agree that true love can reveal itself through the actions that we commit toward ourselves and others. Going along that same vein, when we think carefully about the decisions that we make, which include other parties involved, it is an act of love to consider them. I am not professing that we should withhold our true feelings. However, have you ever said or done something you did not mean, without thinking about it, and wished you could take it back? Something that could hurt another person’s feelings, and perhaps didn’t come from the best place, or the delivery was a little off? That is what I mean. Sometimes we don’t think about these things because we don’t recognize how much our words and actions carry weight to others. It’s humbling to know that we have a responsibility to be careful with the way we present what we truly feel. If we don’t, the message gets lost in the hurt that was rendered from whatever was said. That is what I mean. We shouldn’t withhold the truth from someone simply to placate their feelings. But we should care about their feelings before any real damage takes place. This is a humble approach, as opposed to perhaps what you are suggesting, which would be an untruthful approach for the sake of keeping a person happy.

  2. Jillian says:

    Very encouraging. Please continue to blog. I enjoy reading what you’re learning from the scriptures and how you’re able to apply scriptural principles to your situation and have peace.

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