“As much as depends on you live at peace with all people.” Romans 12:18.
People hurt, mistreat, abuse, abandon and betray us.
God sees and validates our pain. But he also tells us to pursue peace so that we do not fall short of His grace and let bitterness take root to defile us.
Bitterness comes when we hold on to hurt and refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It affects everything around us and causes us to have a hardened heart. We can even take on a victim mentality where we feel constantly wronged by others. It will pollute our overall view of the world and affects how we treat people.
No matter what we are not entitled to our sinful responses to how others have hurt us. Doing so only causes separation between God, ourselves and others. We can’t change people or make them see the error of their ways but God can. But we can take our wounded hearts, bitterness and unforgiveness to the one who has shown us how to love mercy instead of demanding justice.
Bitterness hinders repentance and forgiveness in relationships. The cure for bitterness starts with our hearts. It’s not something we do flippantly or dismissively without considering the cost of the sin committed against us, its effects and the wounds left behind.
Ask Jesus to help you process the hurts and choose to forgive. You will then have a beautiful gift to offer others – true forgiveness from the heart. A heart that says what you did to me hurt me deeply but I choose to forgive you and release you from a debt you cannot repay just as my precious Jesus forgave me and released me from mine.
Every human being yearns to be loved. It’s a legitimate need placed in us by our creator. If our need for love is not met as children, we will go through life with an empty void in our hearts looking for love in all the wrong places taking our empty love cups to people, places and things desperate to have our cups filled.
We can also try to fill our cups through approval, achievements, affirmation, control, money, success, appearance or immediate gratification. Unfortunately, none of these things will satisfy the ravenous craving in our hearts for love because only God’s love satisfies. His love is unfailing, unwavering, unconditional and never ending. His love is enough. Any other kind of love will leave us wanting, even suffocated, drained, yearning for peace and contentment. Because it’s not the real deal. It’s a counterfeit. It leads to captivity – bound to someone or something. Authentic love leads to freedom.
God’s word says ” That you being rooted and grounded in love will be able to comprehend with all the saints how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is, and to know this love which passes knowledge; that you may filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
We will never be able to experience the depth of God’s love unless we have a healthy love foundation. Have you experienced the fullness of God’s love? If not, there may be something you were rooted in preventing God’s love from taking root in the soil of your heart that may be causing you try to get your love cup filled in all the wrong places.
Take your empty cup to Jesus and ask Him to fill it and remove any barriers and false beliefs preventing you from receiving His deep, satisfying love. He is faithful to meet us at our point of need. His love never fails.
Gilead was a region in Biblical times known for its healing balms. People would travel miles for the soothing ointment found there offering relief for their suffering caused by various pains and wounds. During this time, God’s people were in a backslidden state chasing after other Gods and idols.
The Prophet Jeremiah was grieved to the core of the condition of God’s people facing destruction and judgment because they refused to turn away from empty things that made them soul and spiritually sick instead of turning to the Living God. In anguish, he cried out…
“Is there no Balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:22)
Are you sick? Are you hurting today? The Balm of Gilead is an illustration of the healing that is available through Jesus Christ. He is the Great Physician, the all-sufficient one who is able to heal and set free. Jesus wants to heal the wounds of your heart. Do you want to be made well? He is the ointment that can heal God’s children.
People we love and care about sometimes mistreat us, say unkind things to us or about us, verbally or physically abuse us, neglect, ignore, betray, reject, or abandon us. Our first reaction is almost always to personalize it. Please understand that people’s negative behaviors are not about us and everything to do with what is going on inside of them. We cannot react by taking ownership of their negative junk when they act out of their own unhealthy patterns that we are not responsible for. It will not only hurt us deeply but make us believe lies that affect how we see ourselves.
What we can do is take ownership and responsibility for our own junk, ask for forgiveness when applicable, and impose healthy boundaries to protect ourselves from allowing their actions to hurt us physically, spiritually, or emotionally. That just gives unhealthy people way too much power in our lives. And last time I checked, only God is allowed to have that kind of authority in our lives.
We can’t make people’s problems our problems. When we do that, they own us! Causing us to lose sight of who we are because we are so caught up in them and their drama. They will live rent free in our heads and consume us. And that only leads to bitterness, anger and resentments robbing us of our joy, peace and sanity. You are worth so much more.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Compulsive behaviors such as gambling, hoarding, pornography, shopping, overeating, the internet and social media obsession are emerging as behavioral addictions — people can depend on them as severely as alcohol or drugs. Some activities are so normal that it’s hard to believe people can become addicted to them.
Yet, the cycle of addiction can still take over, making everyday life a constant struggle that can lead to the same destructive behavioral patterns that wreak havoc on lives, families’ and relationships. Whatever the coping mechanism, it’s the byproduct of deeper seeded issues requiring attention, self-evaluation, and healing. There is some void or need being met through the compulsive behavior outside God’s design rooted in the flesh apart from the Spirit.
Whether substance or behavioral, addictions can appear to be bad, meaning they are not socially acceptable and can be very harmful – like immorality, gambling, excessive spending, compulsive eating; Or they can look very good and are socially acceptable but may be just as harmful- like perfectionism, work holism, caregiving, serving in ministry out of the wrong heart, staying busy, overly giving, etc. When people give and serve out of the wrong motive, they can overextend themselves and wear themselves out becoming bitter angry and resentful at those they serve and those in leadership.
On either side of the coin – the addiction or compulsive behavior comes down to this – I have to have this! I have to do this! There is an obsession – a compulsion at a root level that fills a need and their identity is very much on what they do. It is the most important thing in their lives. It defines them and rules them. It is bondage. But God can break the chains of bondage and heal all.
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
There are a plethora of self-help books available offering various theories and approaches to dealing with the rooted issues of negative emotions and behaviors. Modern day psychology is valuable in understanding the soul (mind, emotions, and will). This is the area that gets sick. The rooted systems in our life can make our souls extremely sick. A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer solution. However, since the solution offered is rooted in humanism and, therefore, manmade, there is no true long term healing that can occur. At best it can help change behavior, and give you tools for self-discipline, or positive thinking. That is not freedom.
There is no lasting victory because it does not deal with sin. It does not allow for the blood of Christ to cleanse us and change us. It merely puts a band-aid over symptoms. It may address anxiety, depression, outward manifestations and symptoms of deeper issues – but often the first solution offered is medication and never gets to the root. So people are not getting the true healing they are seeking.
As Christians, we know that only God has the power to heal us from the inside out and set us free. That is true victory. He doesn’t just change behaviors; He transforms, renews, restores, redeems and breaks the chains of bondage. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah also tells us that God is the “Wonderful Counselor.” John 14:6 says “the Holy Spirit is the Counselor.” Therefore, true freedom is found only by applying biblical truths to the wounds of our heart. Jesus is the balm of Gilead. He is the ointment that heals the wounds of God’s hurting children.
A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.
Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where there has been a wall of separation erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.
For example, if a loved one is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse or some other harmful behavior they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive but if they ask that we go back to the way it was the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurt us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.
An example of this would be a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is an act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free. And like Beth Moore is fond of saying “Sometimes you just gotta love people from a distance.” There is great wisdom in that.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.“ (Ephesians 4:32)
People in love engage in healthy mutually satisfying give and take relationships. They want the best for each other and bring out the best in each other. They know that love requires sacrifice from time to time and they know what it means to die to self. They don’t expect the other person to fulfill all their needs because they understand that no human being is even capable of doing that because only God can meet all our needs. Only His love truly satisfies. People in love are emotionally healthy individuals who find their value and worth in Christ alone not looking to others for self-worth and identity. True love brings forth life and grows deeper and stronger with time.
People in need operate out of brokenness, not wholeness. They attach themselves to unhealthy people who they think have the power to meet their desperate need for love, security and significance. But because brokenness attracts brokenness they tend to draw emotionally unavailable people, who are often abusive, struggling with addictions or have an array of other issues, who do more taking than giving and are incapable of meeting even the basic of needs required for a healthy relationship. This causes a lot of pain and heartache and brings forth death and destruction resulting in extremely toxic and unhealthy relationships that only get worse with time. And yes! Even Christians can operate out of need instead of love. The church is full of hurting people engaged in unhealthy relationships.
Are you in love or are you in need? If you are in the latter, understand that relationships will not work until you start operation out love. Sadly many believers do not fully understand what love is because they have never been modeled it, never have experienced it. They don’t know their value and worth as a precious child of God because their basic human need for love was not met growing up. So they take matters into their own hands and like the song says go searching for love in all the wrong places and settle for the counterfeit version that never satisfies.
Oswald Chambers wrote —-“No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” The love of God has the power to change us from the inside out. But there is a marked difference between knowing about the love of God and receiving it into our hearts. It is only when we truly encounter and accept the authentic, undefiled Agape love of our Savior that we are then able to “Love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength and love others as ourselves.” (Mark 12:30). “ We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) This is the key to engaging in healthy mutually satisfying relationships. It’s the biblical formula that has the power to heal, transform and empower us to engage in love based not need-based relationships.
What Is Emotional Healing?
Suppressed negative emotions take root early in life and accumulate and are buried over time but don’t go away. They manifest in all sorts unhealthy thinking and behaviors. This is an opportune time for Satan to set up strongholds in our minds. A stronghold is a way of thinking that holds us bondage in our minds, and it strangles the abundant life of a believer. Over time, each negative emotionally hurtful event in our lives can add another layer of woodenness and unless it is brought to the light can rob us of our joy and peace in our walk with the Lord and affect our emotional health and well-being.
The first step to achieving emotional healing is being honest and recognizing that rather than blaming others and staying a victim, we need to take accountability for how we have been dealing with past hurts.
“Jesus says if you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and truth will set you free”….”So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:32,33)
How can we experience this freedom if we are still carrying around our backpack of emotional hurts and pain? In order to know this freedom, we need to acknowledge that we have not dealt with these buried emotions and need them brought to the surface so our Lord Jesus can sever them at the root.
Then and only then can God take us from a broken, hurting, anxious individual and restore us so that we can finally experience the peace and joy that the Lord desires us to have in our walk with Him.
“He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him.”
(Daniel 2:22 Amplified Bible)
Many wounded believers are bound and shackled in their souls, carrying invisible scars from a painful childhood or past. They have mastered the art of medicating through various means so as not to face the awful reality of the roots of their hurt and the excruciating emotional pain that it brings. What they don’t realize is that they must connect with the emotion of the event so they can grieve and heal.
When we are unable to connect emotionally, we are in denial – minimizing, protecting to avoid the pain. This is what most of us have been doing all of our lives – running away thereby bypassing the grieving process altogether unable to move forward. However, it is the grieving process that gives Jesus access to step inside our pain – to love us, comfort us, wipe away our tears, as He lovingly begins to replace the lies, the messages that have polluted our hearts and minds which have robbed us from seeing ourselves through our right identity as precious children of the living God.
To grieve means to mourn a loss, sorrow, express feelings of grief, sadness or regret. It’s a cleansing process that heals the soul and allows us to come to terms with the wreckage of our past. As we sorrow and weep over the losses, the walls of self-protection begin to come down and the burdens we have carried are removed and given over to the Lord. Then God’s word begins to come alive in our hearts in a real and tangible way. Our faith is renewed and hope is restored as we start to take God at His word as He heals and restores our hearts, while we hold fast to His promises.
““The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To console those who mourn in Zion, To give beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for heaviness. That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3