You've probably been there, to the Land of Hurt. In relationships and professionally, I've experienced pain that's rocked me to my core. One minute everything is fine and the next, the rug is pulled out. People I trusted to have my back stick a knife there. They robbed me of my peace.
The resulting feelings are anger, sadness, betrayal, confusion. How could this have happened? How did I not see this coming? When will I ever know peace again?
When this happens to us (notice I didn't say "if") we have a choice to make: we can continue to live in the anger, sadness, betrayal and confusion, or we can forgive. Recovery from being hurt starts with that simple choice, but the process is by no means simple. It requires making that choice again and again going forward, to refuse to remain stuck in the swamp of unforgiveness. We have to choose to take back our peace.
How do we get there?
Own the pain.
Especially for us guys, this can be a difficult first step. We have to admit we've been hurt. That means admitting we're vulnerable, that we have weaknesses. And that's okay. It's the risk we take to be connected with other people. No relationship comes with an iron-clad guarantee we're not going to get hurt.
When possible, we need to share the pain, too. That's the first step in forgiveness, letting the person who hurt us know the kind of harm they inflicted. This isn't to make them feel bad. It's to help them understand their choices can cause pain and they can take steps not to do that again. Offering forgiveness without letting the offender know how much pain they caused is only an invitation to a devastating cycle of hurt.
Know that offering forgiveness is not a pathway to some moment of magical repentance, tears and hugs and "everything is just like it was before." The person who hurt you may not be contrite, and even if that's the case, your relationship will never be like it was before.
In the best case scenario, you can plot out a new course for a reconciled relationship. That could be even better than the one you had...but it won't be the same.
Don't be a victim.
If we're honest with ourselves, a big reason we hold on to pain and fail to seek forgiveness is we like the results of being hurt. We like the sympathy. We like living to the lowered expectations because of our "injured" status. We like the ability to hold onto our "righteous" anger because we've been hurt.
In doing so, it may feel like we're maintaining an artificial kind of control. The reality is we're giving it up...to the enemy.
There's nothing Satan loves more than an "injured" Christian. That person poses no threat to him. Faith is limited and so are relationships. That person has retreated into a shell. They live with continual anger and bitterness over being hurt and darn sure won't allow it to happen again.
Those are our choices. We can, like Christ, overcome the hurt, glorify God in our victory and use that experience as an avenue to reach others going through the same thing.
Or we can hold on to the pain. We can remain weak, angry and afraid.
You didn't choose to be hurt. Chances are you didn't deserve any of it. Neither did Jesus. He knows your pain.
Seek Him. Pray for His strength and patience. Pray for His healing. Pray for His guidance as you pursue peace with the one who hurt you.