After receiving several comments from people who had been wounded by the words of others, I realized God was highlighting something He wanted me to touch on. (I share some similar thoughts in my post Choosing to Hear God (Exodus 20:18-21) & How-to Receive D4Y Art/Silk, so you may find that of interest as well.)
Laying the Groundwork
Let’s begin with this truth: God loves you. God is good. God is kind. When He disciplines His children He does so in a way that brings HEALING. This is the heart of God. This is the baseline to weigh everything else from.
Next let’s recognize, we have ALL at one time or another been the one to say the hurtful words – often when we actually were intending to “help.” As such, we can recognize that people’s motivations for saying the things that have wounded us are not always bad, but sometimes well-intended but done from fleshly motivation.
Regardless of the heart behind the words, we need begin with forgiveness. It’s important to note that forgiveness is not an indication that you are “ok” with something, it is simply you releasing any “right” you may feel you have to react, and instead giving it to God to handle as He sees fit.
The Origin of Thoughts and Words
Words that are spoken begin first as thoughts. And since 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) exhorts us that we are to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” – we know that by extension we should be filtering the words spoken to us through that same filter. Do the words align with the heart of God? If not, we can be intentional to weigh them differently and refuse to allow them to impact our worldview or walk of faith. (I share about how to handle your own negative thoughts in my post Refusing to Operate in Jealousy or Competition (How-to Handle Negative Thoughts).)
Let’s ponder some of the primary places thoughts can come from (if you think of others, feel free to share in the comments):
- Thoughts can come from the flesh. Whether they be driven by positive fleshly motivation like caring about someone and wanting to try to stop them from making a mistake, or whether they are motivated by negative fleshly motivation like greed or jealousy.
- Thoughts can come from God. Spirit-inspired ideas can prompt action, prayer, or simply help us to align our own hearts. They support God’s plans and reflect His heart.
- Thoughts can come from the enemy. Sometimes these are obvious, like the “idea” to drive off a bridge or do harm to yourself or another person (physically or emotionally). I call these thought-bombs. It’s like the enemy chucks them over just to see if we might bite. And let’s face it, sometimes we do. Sometimes though, he masks his thoughts with just enough truth or righteousness that we fall for it thinking it’s God. These are the ones that make being in relationship with God so vital. When you work in banking you don’t learn to spot a counterfeit by seeing all the different types of counterfeits, but rather by spending a LOT of time with the genuine article. In this case, the more time you spend with God, the more you recognize instinctively what is His voice and what isn’t.
- Our body chemistry can impact our thoughts. As someone who has struggled with depression due to hormonal issues, I can tell you firsthand this is something to consider. Our body chemistry and how we react to foods we eat effects our outlook which impacts our thoughts and responses. This is something we need to consider and extend grace and allowances for – both in ourselves and others.
So with those possibilities in mind, as we consider the origins of the words that have hurt us, where did they come from? Was the person speaking out of their flesh? Whether it was from their own pain and bitterness, or judgement and self-righteousness, or well-meaning intensions but poorly timed – if it’s coming from flesh, we need to filter it accordingly.
Simply because something is spoken in someone’s flesh doesn’t mean it cannot be of service to us. Often hurtful words reveal truths we can benefit from if we are humble enough to allow God to speak to us through them. So what do we do when we think someone may be speaking in their flesh? The same thing we should always do, take it to God and ask for His input.
Whatever the origin of the words someone speaks, choose to bear with them in love. That doesn’t mean you have to receive the words, but be respectful and simply take the words to God for Him to instruct you on what to do next.
Prophetic Words that Wound
Since all too often the hurtful words spoken are ones that someone is professing comes from God, let’s pause to consider that specifically.
In Hosea 6:1 (NLT) we read, “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.” This is a beautiful reminder that words from God – even if they hurtful or are hard to hear – bring healing.
In my post How-To Receive a Prophetic Word, I explain the steps for receiving a word. But first and foremost we need to consider if what is being said accurately reflects the heart of God. We also want to consider the context for the word and how it relates to our lives and walk – I go into greater detail in my post Types of Personal Prophetic Words (And if this is a topic you’d like to go in-depth on, you may appreciate reading about my personal application of the steps and framework I lay out in the posts I mentioned, which I share in my post Receiving a Prophetic Word: An Example). All these principles also apply in knowing what to do with dreams or visions.
What to Do with the Hurt
What to do with the hurt once it’s there is one of the hardest things. Depending on how long it has been allowed to fester, anger and bitterness can set in. We need to begin the healing process by laying the ground work we started with above: remembering God’s heart toward us and filtering everything through that, remembering our own culpability, and choosing forgiveness. If we know and love God, we should be living with an Expectation of Good (Hebrews 11:6) (I go into detail about the how and the why in this post).
Releasing pain is a moment-by-moment thing. We can set it aside and release it, only to discover we have picked it up again. Extend grace to yourself in this process, but be intentional to release it again every time you realize you’ve picked it back up. Expect Imperfection! Know it won’t simply be a one-time thing and just know that God sees and appreciates when you choose His way over and over and over – even if it’s a struggle to do so. (These two posts are great encouragements about this process Incremental Breakthroughs and Managing Our Expectations and Celebrate Each Breakthrough.)
Choosing gratitude is key to walking this out. The worst way to move past hurt is to focus on it. What we focus on we make room for – so focusing on hurt, makes room for that hurt to grow. Instead choose to focus on what you are grateful for – for there you will find strength (In Gratitude is Strength (Nehemiah 8:10)) and wholeness (Wholeness: the Key is Gratitude (Luke 17:11-19) ).
A Quick Working Chat
The video below gives my flow of consciousness thoughts on this topic as I was doing some Dyed4you Ministries work. I invite you to sit with me and simply have a chat. Hopefully it’s a blessing!