I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot, too sad to stop crying. And although I had a list of things that really couldn’t be put off another day, I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there I sat.
Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she’d seen posted about me online.
It was harsh and hurtful.
I tried to give myself a little pep talk, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who on God’s green earth came up with that ridiculous saying? It’s not true. I cried a little more.
I pulled up the Facebook page my friend referenced, and there it was for all the world to see: Opinions about me flying through the Internet, intent on ripping me apart. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark deep inside my heart.
It was only a handful of people, but they debated me as if I were a product sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. A soul that feels and breathes and cares so very deeply about everything.
Instantly, I wanted it all to stop.
I looked up and saw people walking into the store and felt so very envious of them. They seemed peaceful, happy or at least neutral. I suddenly wished for a less risky life.
Why do I display my heart to all the world, typed in pixelated letters?
Words like, “calling” and “disciple” suddenly felt like burdens, not blessings.
I looked back at my phone and reread the hurtful remarks posted online. What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling desperate to fix something that can’t be immediately fixed?
Should I defend myself?
But I don’t want to sound defensive.
Should I pray for others to defend me?
But I don’t want to pull others into this.
Should I just stay quiet?
But then what if my silence just feeds their case?
Every response felt like the wrong response.
What do you do … when you don’t know what to do?
Maybe you’ve sat in a parking lot crying, too. The circumstances might have been different, but the hurt is the same … that sliced-open feeling of being judged, misunderstood and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.
I wish I had the perfect answer. I don’t. These kinds of situations are messy, complicated and unable to fit in formulaic boxes.
However, I have an imperfect solution that will get us pointed in the right direction: Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.
In other words, find some small right thing to do that negates the negativity. Do that right thing, right away, to prove to yourself what’s being said isn’t ALL true.
There might be some small tangles of truth in the hurtful thing being said. We can pray about that and do something later when the hurt isn’t so fresh.
But first things first. We have to stop the bleeding from the deepest wound.
Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.
The small thing I decided to do was see their comments coming from a place of hurt, not hate. Hurt people hurt people. Something caused hurt to stir up in their hearts. Maybe I even inadvertently added to it without meaning to. Regardless, having compassion for them eased my pain.
I called my friend who’d told me about the hurtful comments and said, “I don’t know what to do except be a picture of love in this situation. If I respond out of hurt, things will only get worse.”
1 John 4:7-8 reminds us of the importance of showing love to each other, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
So, I must let love guide me.
Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that hurt …
I can feel offended, but I don’t have to be offended.
I can feel insecure, but I don’t have to act insecure.
I can feel angry, but I don’t have to respond in anger.
That’s the choice love makes.
And please understand I’m not all Pollyanna about this and able to walk it out perfectly. I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings. And I don’t want today’s reaction to become tomorrow’s regret.
I never did make it into the store that day. And there are still days I feel so very fragile and vulnerable. Maybe you do too?
Let’s allow God’s love to take us by the hand and empower us in each and every situation where we don’t know what to do.
We can feel afraid, but we don’t have to be afraid to do the next right thing, right away.
Learn how to embrace God-honoring ways to process your hurt in my new book, Uninvited. Get your copy here.
Not sure if Uninvited is for you? Click here to take a free assessment and find out if the heartbreak of your past is affecting you today more than you realize.