“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
There is a fundamental truth in every human relationship; hurt is a guarantee. Offense is promised, and pain is going to occur. People are going to let you down, and you will let others down; this is human nature. The only way to fully protect yourself from pain is to lock yourself away and never open your heart to others. This applies in any human relationship, between spouses, children, parents, or friends. Pain is inevitable. However, despite this, love is the greatest gift that God has given us. If we open our hearts to the beautiful vulnerability of love, we are generally happier people, despite the pain that comes with it. This is the redeeming quality of the gift of loving relationships.
When we are hurt in a relationship, we have to evaluate the situation fairly. Ask yourself, ‘Is this a deal breaker?’ It’s different for different people. I always thought that infidelity would be a deal breaker for me, but when I faced that head on, I realized that my love for my husband was stronger than the pain that I felt from his betrayal. Infidelity, it seemed, wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but I know that ongoing betrayal would be. What is your breaking point? What would it take to irreparably damage that relationship? Evaluate this question when you are faced with pain. The reason that we ask ourselves this is because we have to have a sense of resolve to stick to. If we decide the behavior doesn’t merit ending the relationship, then we need to have that as the foundation of our stance. Every time that we have thoughts to give up, we resort back to this. We have to be willing to stick to our belief.
We can overcome the pain in our relationships through a few steps; we must learn to self-soothe in order to heal and forgive, and we must fully grieve the pain without giving up on the relationship.
In the midst of pain and confusion, we must practice the art of reparation through self-soothing. It’s not something that comes all at once, it takes conscious effort and consistent behavior. In marriage, we learn the unhealthy habit of letting our spouse be the source of our soothing when we are hurting. The problem arises when we are expecting the very person that caused the pain to be the one who soothes that pain from us. This isn’t possible because we can’t reasonably separate them from the pain in our hearts at this time. We must not only depend on others, but we must learn to self-soothe; this is what makes us stronger. When we are a part of our own healing process, it means more to us to grow through it. We gain independence, rather than codependence. There are two significant factors of self-care that are essential for moving forward in a healthy way.
Don’t count how many times you have been hurt. This isn’t a tit for tat, or a contest. This type of thinking creates a victim mentality that follows us our whole lives!
Don’t punish someone for something you forgave them of. If they hurt you years ago, and you bring it up each time you argue, you are not forgiving them. This isn’t fair to them, and they have already been punished for what they have done; so why continue to bring it back up?
We must rely also, on God’s strength. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 His heart is for us, and He understands the pain we are in. His desire for us is to experience the joy in relationships that we were created for.
In order to really forgive and move on, we have to both feel the pain and grieve. Don’t just armor up and protect yourself from your spouse and from the world, but allow yourself to feel the wound deeply. Allowing yourself to really experience the pain provides some benefits. It gives you time to evaluate the question, “Is this a deal breaker or not?” It is also a way to fully immerse yourself into the process of grief, healing, and acceptance. This keeps us from merely burying the pain; burying pain causes long term problems down the road because we’re not stopping long enough to heal. Matthew 5:4 says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ If we do not take the time to mourn, God cannot really give us the comfort that we need; it’s like asking for a Band-Aid when you really need surgery.
What are your deal breakers? Is the current situation worth standing for?
Do you spend more time armoring yourself up, or allowing yourself to grieve?
Have you surrendered your situation so that God can truly do a deep healing in you?