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One of the most triggering questions I receive from people who love me and want good for me as I walk through healing is when they ask me why I care about the feelings of the person I have been hurt by.
I also can find myself triggered to quickly defend when they rise up to talk bad about this person or make a remark about them. Even if I am angry and hurt, and justifiably so, I cannot stand when someone else talks poorly about them as if that offers me support. I know they mean well and they are trying to show love to me and stand by me. I don't fault them for feeling angry towards a person who caused me pain. Lord knows I have certainly been guilty of talking poorly of another person in order to offer support and solidarity for my friend or loved one. We are all guilty of it. We hate it when the people we love are hurt by another.
But consider this, sweet friends: They may still have deep love for that person that hurt them oh so deeply. So, to speak poorly on them actually harms the one you are trying to protect and help.
The bible states clearly:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 ESV
To give you some perspective, in my own personal story, I have covered and ignored the sins of this person that I still love very much and care for incredibly. I just could no longer ignore it, and I had to make decisions. I made the hardest choice I have ever had to make and that was to walk away.....even with the hope that everything would work out and we could come together again. It had nothing to do with not loving a person anymore, but more to do with my emotional well being that was at stake and that I could no longer ignore the poor choices a man, whom I believe was and is a good man deep down, was consistently making without any indication of remorse or desire to repent. That makes it really hard to stay and fight when someone else doesn't care to fight along with you and for you.
That does not mean that I stop loving this person. I will 100% admit that I still love this person. Probably forever.
Healing is funny because there is no script for it. There is no one way. One day you are fine and the next, you want to throat punch the person who hurt you. You will lash out with the most hateful words and almost not recognize yourself, the next day you feel remorse and begin quoting scripture. It is a crazy cycle, and one that many people really do not understand.
How can we help those who are walking through a season of betrayal and heartache? Maybe there may even be signs of some emotional trauma or abuse that they experienced? My advice to you is to not join the stake burning mob. Be angry, yes, that this person caused your loved one pain. It should break our hearts when people are treated in such a manner in opposition of Christ. Christians are not perfect and even good people make horrific mistakes. I am grateful for grace and mercy, so I am asking that you show a ton of restraint with your opinions and feelings about that individual. It actually does more harm than good.
Listen to them when they are sharing with your their trauma. It will come out not as you expect. Sometimes, they will share the good memories that they had with this person or even retell the jokes that person used to tell or how that person used to make them laugh. You may find yourself getting upset at your friend or loved one telling beautiful stories about that individual when you know all the pain and trauma they caused your loved one. Holding your tongue and exhibiting patience will be the greatest way you can support them. This is your loved one's process of healing. Let them walk in it.
On those days when your friend or loved one begins to lash out either at you or at the individual who hurt them, again, this is their process of healing. I will ask again that you exhibit patience and holding your tongue, but that doesn't mean you have to take a verbal lashing. Kindly and patiently encourage them to take a break. Maybe encourage them to do something for themselves like to read, write out their anger, take a bath, go for a walk. Maybe they need a nap or some time alone. Emotional hurt is an exhausting process to heal from. There is no other way to explain it. Those who experience emotional trauma and/or abuse sometimes take on the behaviors of those who traumatized or abused them. A lot of that comes from a sense of needing to protect oneself. It is important we guide them through this journey.
Be careful not to use statements like "You are being too emotional right now and I won't listen to you" or that they are being too dramatic or angry or not Christ-like, etc. Chances are, they were subjected to statements like that from the individual who hurt them. It will trigger a painful response in them. So don't do it. You can protect yourself from a verbal assault while also lovingly drawing them back to center. Prayer, a walk, an act of kindness toward them, even letting them just sleep it off can be incredibly helpful for them. It is important to remember that often, these episodes don't last forever.
We are to love them as well. They are not perfect and they need constant reminders that they are loved. That nothing can separate them from the love of Christ. That even though someone else disrespected them as a human being, abandoned them, abused them, dishonored them and hurt them.......they are incredibly loved and cherished by their Creator and that you love them too.
Walking alongside someone who has experienced emotional trauma and abuse is incredibly hard. They will say things and often appear like they are contradicting themselves and it will leave you wondering what is wrong with them and you may feel inclined to ask them why they would be so ignorant or blind to what is happening around them. They aren't. They have finally realized what has been happening. And now they are trying to walk through it and heal from it. It is a hard process.
And remember that your loved one probably still cares deeply about that person who hurt them. So show grace and patience.