#020: How to Handle Hurt and Disappointment in Relationships

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In a broken world, we will inevitably experience hurt and disappointment in our own relationships with our spouses, friends and family members. As Christ followers, what makes us different is how we handle it when it happens.

Guard your mouth.

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
— Proverbs 15:1

Hurtful and resentful words often fly out of our mouths when our feelings are hurt. They are words that aren't helpful to the situation and will only tear the relationship apart a little further; they are words we probably will regret later on. Don't hear me say that your hurt is not legitimate. Yes, it is. At the same time, we are called to be responsible for our responses. In the same way, the person who hurt you is responsible for his/her actions and speech. If we can't find anything to say that's kind and gracious, it will be wise to control our tongue.

Go to God first.

Retreat into a quiet space where you can lay down all your thoughts and emotions at Jesus's feet. He already knows how you feel. But it's the surrender of those thoughts and feelings that empties your heart of hurt, resentment, anger, and bitterness. Only when your heart is empty of unfruitful thoughts can you fill it back up with the fruits of the Spirit. Go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you reconcile the relationship in the most God-glorifying way.

Search your heart

While you're laying down your hurt at God's feet, ask Him to search your heart. Ask Him, "Do I have sin in my own heart? Did I sin in any way that contributed to this? Is there anything that I need to seek forgiveness for?" Sometimes we might be so clouded by our emotions that we don't see the situation clearly. Asking God who knows your heart through and through will help you see everything in a better light.

Let the lamp guide your feet

Knowing how to handle hurt and disappointment comes from God's Word. So what does the Scripture say about grace and forgiveness? 

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
— Matthew 18:21-22
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
— Matthew 6:14-15

God didn't call us to only forgive a few times; He asks us to forgive time and time again. Moreover, we are called to extend to others the forgiveness He has so freely given us. How often have you sinned against God? How often has He forgiven you? Just as God forgives you, you ought to forgive others as well. 

Converse with the other party

When you are ready to approach the person in a calm manner, talk through the situation using the conflict wheel. It has helped me in my own conflict resolution. Here's how it works: with the conflict wheel, it gives you and the other party a chance to talk through...

1) What had happened
2) How it made you think
3) How it made you feel
4) What did you want
5) What do you want moving forward

This conflict wheel is very helpful as it guides you through the conversation in a clear and logical manner. 

Pray before your meeting.

Before approaching the other party, ask God to prepare the hearts of those involved. Ask Him for a fruitful conversation as He guides your lips. The times that I did pray before I approached someone, our conversations always went better than if I didn't.

Confess any sins on your part and ask for forgiveness.

If God has revealed to you any sins on your part, be faithful and humble in asking for forgiveness from the other party. 

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
— Proverbs 11:2

It is not easy to ask for forgiveness when you've been hurt. It stings our pride.
However, pride has no place in the hearts of us Christ followers. 

I want to encourage you to take upon Christ's humility to ask for forgiveness. 
Think about how great of a testimony it will be - especially to those who don't believe in Christ, because this isn't something people do very often.
What a testimony of humility and grace and forgiveness it will be!

It is not easy handling hurt and disappointment. But if we seek to glorify God in the process, we know we can stand before God and say, "I have done everything I can in ways that I know are the most glorifying to You."
That's what's most important to us as we seek to live out God's Word.

For the Christmas gift guide for Christians, go here.

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Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas