Four Tips to Overcoming Hurtful Words
Thousands of words are spoken each day by a single individual. That does not include the plethora of words that we send out through emails, text messages, and social media. In this day and age, words are barely out of our mouths before they could potentially be on the other side of the world. You know words are permanent things. You have known since you were a little girl that “I’m sorry. I take that back.” is an invalid phrase to your broken heart. Females have the innate ability to associate emotions with places and memories. A school hallway, where you saw a group of girls looking at you with death glares and whispering that you were fat, wore ugly clothes, and were just ugly in general, is probably an extremely painful thing not only to no doubt think about, but it is probably also a painful place to return to.
There were times in junior high and high school when I would have rather been punched than to have heard the vicious words that pierced their way into my heart and caused me to wonder why I should even try anymore. You know as well as I do that our twelve years spent learning the basics of education are not the only place painful words can be spoken. Unfortunately, graduating from high school does not mean you also graduated from the time when petty, hurtful words were spoken. People will continue to speak in an unkind way. Because of our sinful nature, this is just how it is going to be until Christ returns and sets up His perfect kingdom. However, today- right at this moment- whatever hurtful words are ringing in your ears can be replaced with beautiful words of encouragement. You do not have to be chained to those words. Dwelling on the pain of hurtful words is a choice. It is something I personally am still learning. It is a hard task to accomplish, but we have been promised that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). We overcome hurtful words not through our strength, but through God’s mercy.
1. It is okay to cry. Before you do any thinking, go ahead and cry. Hurtful words do just that – they hurt. Your natural response is to release the pain through tears. Here is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible:
"Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?"
Take a moment and let that soak in. God knows every tear you have ever cried and ever will cry. Not only is every hair on your head numbered (Matthew 10:30 and Luke 12:7), but God also knows every tear you have cried. I’m tearing up just thinking about this beautiful truth. God also understands the pain you feel in your heart.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
My mom has told me that one of the most painful things a parent experiences is seeing their children hurt and cry. If earthly parents experience this sort of pain, how much more do you think God hurts when He sees you cry and receive a broken heart? Go ahead and cry, dear girl. Let out all the tears. God understands, and He is there for you. He aches to make you feel better because you are His lovely daughter.
2. Give the hurtful words over to God. If you were to eat a food that gave you food poisoning, would you keep that food around? Certainly not. You would throw it out. The same needs to be done with hurtful words, too. Talk with the Lord about the hurtful words, then give them over to Him. Often times, hurtful words are untrue words- such as being called ugly. Ladies, you were made by God and you were made in His image, the most beautiful image of all (Genesis 1:27; for more information on being made in the image of God I highly recommend reading “What ‘Made in the Image of God’ Really Means” by Relevant Magazine.). Another human speaking negative about you is like me criticizing the work of the best physician in the world or the artwork of nationally renowned artists, or even critiquing music by Beethoven of Mozart. I have no authority in any of those areas just as you and I do not have authority in the area of the masterpieces of God – humans. Instead of going to friends first about those hurtful words or drowning yourself in the pain caused by the words, give the hurtful words to God. Relish in the fact that you are loved, cherished, and valued by your Creator. Combat those words by reading His Words to you. And do not dwell on the words.
Obey the words God give us in Philippians.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Remember: All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26), including putting aside hurtful words. Trade out the hurtful things said about you for truths about you found in God’s Word – you are God’s child. You are beautiful. The Creator of the whole universe cherishes you.
3. Forgive the speaker of the hurtful words. This is not an easy task, but it is a necessary task. The person may never come and ask for forgiveness from you, but you still need to forgive them in your heart, regardless of if they ask for forgiveness or not. One of the many beautiful things about being a child of the King is the forgiveness we receive through the payment Christ paid for us on the cross.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
-1 John 1:9
What a beautiful promise! The Lord will forgive us if we ask. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ. It’s the process of sanctification. We are to follow the Lord’s example of forgiveness. If you are struggling to forgive someone for hurtful words, ask the Lord to help you. Remember, you can do all things through Christ, and this includes forgiveness. Do not let bitterness take root in your heart. This is what Satan wants for you. Do not listen to him.
4. Encourage someone else with kind words. One thing my parents have taught my siblings and I is to look around us and not focus on just us. None of us are perfect at this by any means, but this lesson has really been hitting home, especially the past few years. Your outlook on life greatly suffers when you focus on you – your pain, your hardships, and everything that may be wrong in your life. Taking the focus off of yourself, and putting the focus on others makes an enormous difference in how we view life. You might have heard this acronym before:
It is so true! Ladies, do not let the hurtful words consume you.
Can you think of someone else who might need to hear some kind words? Writing a letter or a little note can make someone’s day. Simply smiling and saying "Hello" to someone you pass or the cashier at the checkout can brighten up that person’s day. The majority of people around you are going through something- whether it is financial struggles, relational issues, or just one of those days where nothing seems to go right.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Kindness is slipping away. We as daughters of the King should display kindness everywhere we go. I know that we all have bad days, too. The kids spilled their juice on the carpet as you were trying to hurry them out the door; Of all days, your blow dryer decided to go to blow dryer heaven; You left your thumb drive at home, and you really need it today. We all have those days. We also have Jesus. We are going to struggle with our reactions toward not good days and bad things that happen until Jesus really is first in our lives. Only then can our lights shine. Only then can we spread kind words when hurtful words have been said to us.
Remember this verse as you use words throughout your day:
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."