I lack the proper wisdom to offer you a self-help book in this arena, so instead, here is my best attempt at a self-help paragraph. Roots of bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness will strangle the best and most beautifully potential parts of us if not weeded out. Be honest with God about your feelings, your old or fresh unhealed wounds. You can pray for healing and restoration. I also recommend asking God to ...
...replace your hurt with something specific that matches His will for our lives. For example, pray regularly for Him to take away your pain and give you compassion in its place. Ask Him to forgive those who have hurt you and to replace your bitterness with joy. These are not one-shot prayers. Pray them regularly. Over time you will recognize your healing. You will feel it, know it and the change in you will also be evident to others. And in the meanwhile, as you journey through life and encounter other people's aggressions, rants, spews and the like, be mindful that they are dealing with pain that hasn’t been healed. Whether or not they would admit it, they’re hurting. As you grow in compassion and as you revel in the miracle of your own healing, you will be better equipped to minister to those who are hurting, even those who are in sheer denial about it. Instead of viewing someone as arrogant, view them as unhealed. Rather than believing that someone is a jerk, understand that they are buried under the rubble of their brokenness. Jesus modeled this so well for us when His badly beaten body hung on the cross and He cried out to His Father, God Almighty, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” in Luke 23:34 (NIV). You see, pain clouds even our own understanding of what we are doing. Again, I believe all pain is stemmed from love that has been broken, lost, abused, betrayed or discarded. In pain people turn to sin because we believe the sin is going to make us feel better. I have screamed and cursed at people who have hurt me, long ago, because I thought the sharp words shooting from my mouth would relieve some of my own deep hurt and transfer it over to them. I had engaged in sexual relationships because I thought somehow I could harness love, and I’ve also acted out in very rebellious behaviors after being betrayed or neglected. Some people steer toward criminal sin that falsely promises some sense of reward while others allow that pain to manifest as some semblance of strength that is cold and unbreakable, having no taste for love at all. In each of these situations, Jesus is asking God to forgive us because we don’t realize what we are doing. He wants His chance with us so He pursues us and He invades our hearts and minds with a desire to know Him so that with His Spirit He can begin the process of restoring our broken, painful places and transforming us into disciples, world changers, infectors of love. We then are charged with taking that compassion and mercy and love out into the world to inject these sweet things of His everywhere we can, to let love infect!
May we be able to recognize that the world hurts. People act senseless and mean because they are living with wounds that are still open. We can settle for feeling angry and disgusted with the world. We can be livid with other Christians who seem not to have gotten this memo. Or we can drop seeds of the message of the healing and redemption through Jesus and seek to offer compassion and grace even where it isn’t deserved. After all, while we were still sinning, He died for us. As He bore the pain of every one of our sins, He cried out for God to have mercy on us because we were so blinded by the pain of love having gone all kinds of wrong, we didn’t even realize the harm we were causing ourselves and others. He asked God to look away and to give us another chance, and another and another. All along He has known that if we would give Him our belief that our pain could be healed, He could show more of the world His great and incomparable love.