The heartache of the wounded can plant a seed of bitterness. And if watered with anger, accusations—justifiable or not—cause hearts to be hardened, love to be lost, and defensive walls of self-protection to get one more layer added to the top. This can make every harsh and pretentious thought seem justifiable.
King David gives insight into this conundrum based on his experience of being hunted like the prey of Saul. Saul was his predator. Saul whom he gave his life for on multiple occasions. David's heart of course was wounded. David proclaims in Psalm 73, "When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded, I was stupid and didn't understand; I was an unthinking animal toward you."
When wounded by someone's words or actions it's easy fall prey to what David describes as behaving like an "unthinking animal." Wounds can cause irrational thoughts. Bitterness can unleash the uncontrolled animal inside instead of exposing the Child of God under control, disciplined in words and actions.
Right now, I am walking in a season where God is putting me in trials to test me and my desires. He is seeing how I will respond to people who say hurtful things. Hurt my immediate family. And are bitter toward me. Misunderstandings. Miscommunications. And so on. Not just in one area of my life, but many. And with fellow believers at that. He is challenging me to see if I can submit to him my desire to defend myself and my hold my position. Or will I act like the "unthinking animal" I have so often acted like before.
Admittedly there have been plenty of times when I have been hurt and I want to charge, like a rabies infected dog, seething and foaming at the mouth—not a cute picture, right? And so many times that reaction felt right. Satan does a good job of making me feel like I am the only one who will defend me—so I must lunge and lash out. In the moment, it feels like that right thing to do to be heard, to fly off the handle, fangs out and intimidation high.
But then, in the quiet of the night I am left with the carnage of my thoughts, words and actions. God's gentle correction in these moments blows my mind—every time.
"Stephanie, you are not alone. You do not have to do this on your own." He doesn't even have to correct my behavior, because I know in my heart of hearts that I reacted the way I did because I feared being unloved and alone.
The Bible says, "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent" (Exodus 14:14).
In one short sentence, my seething is calmed, and God steps in and assures me, he's got this. He's got me. I am loved. I am not alone. And I do not have to act like a crazy animal to defend myself. This short sentence pulls out the cries of praise from the depths of my soul.
Michael W. Smith's song "Surrounded" has been my battle cry song to remind me to turn to God and praise Him when I am under attack. Praise Him. I cannot curse another while I am offering songs of praise to the most High God. This verse and song pivots my heart's posture from the hurt back to God. Praising in song allows me to stop feeling like a victim and act like a victor. I can stand firm knowing God will be my defender.
How would or could our relationships with our wounder change if we were able to stand firm in truth and hold steadfast in our identity as children of God? What if the wounds did not knock us off center, and rattle our minds causing confusion and dysfunction, but rather urged us to bow a knee in surrender to our God, surrendering the hurt to Him? What if in those hurtful moments we could recognize that He is our Defender? What if our hurts caused praise to ring out from our hearts, mouths and homes instead of planting seeds of bitterness?
I challenge you this week to reflect on your response when you are hurt or wounded. How will you respond going forward? What will your song of praise be? How will you protect your heart from bitterness?
—Stephanie Winslow, business coach and author of Ascent to Hope: The Rugged Climb from Fear to Faith, writes to arm others with support and encourage Christian families struggling with addiction to let go of fear and find peace in personal relationships with Christ. Mrs. Winslow holds a MA degree in Higher Education from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH, with a degree in Spanish. She is certified as a Faith and Health Ambassador through the Faith and Health Connection. Stephanie resides in St. Louis, MO with her husband and two daughters.