How to Find Hope after Other People Have Hurt You
- Friday, August 16, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Cynthia Ruchti's new book, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices (Abingdon Press, 2013).
Your spouse betrays you through an affair, leaving you to go through heartache and a divorce. Someone steals your personal information on the Internet, forcing you to spend lots of time and energy handling the aftermath of identity theft. One of your children abandons your grandchildren, leaving you to raise them. A drunk driver crashes into your car, forcing you to deal with a permanent disability for the rest of your life.
The consequences of other people’s choices affect you every day, and when those choices are major mistakes, they can affect your life in devastating ways. But no matter how other people have hurt you, God offers you hope that can empower you to overcome any circumstances.
Here’s how to find hope after other people have hurt you:
Turn to God as a refuge. Look to God to comfort you, rather than turning to lesser sources of comfort (such as food, alcohol, excessive television viewing, etc.) that will only numb your pain rather than relieve it. Express even your most difficult thoughts and feelings about your suffering to God in prayer, with the confidence that He cares and will respond.
Pursue peace rather than answers. God may not choose to explain why others have hurt you, or help you figure out all the reasons why you’re hurting. Instead of tormenting yourself trying to answer questions in vain, focus your energy on pursuing what God promises you can always have: peace. When you pray for peace, you can count on God giving you the true and lasting peace that comes only from Him.
Give yourself some emotional breaks. Whenever you can, make time to do simple activities that you enjoy, from watching a movie to taking a walk. These breaks from dealing with troubling emotions will refresh you and enable you to cope more effectively.
Let go of your first draft for your life. Don’t hold on too tightly to the expectations you had about how your life was going to be before someone else’s actions forced you to rewrite your plans. Ask God to show you how you can pursue His purposes for you within your new set of circumstances. Be flexible, and look forward to good things God has in store for you that you couldn’t anticipate before.
Rearrange your priorities. Use your time of healing to reflect on your priorities and consider whether or not they align with your true values and God’s purposes for you. Think and pray about what’s most important to you, and why. Then rearrange your priorities so you’re spending your time, energy, and money in the best ways.
Use your creativity to solve problems. Tap into your God-given creativity as you deal with the problems other people have created in your life. Pray for the ideas you need to successfully solve the problems you’re facing.
Embrace mercy for your mistakes, and be merciful toward people who have mistakenly hurt you. If you regret bad choices you made in the past that contributed to other people hurting you, confess those mistakes to God and ask Him to forgive you and help you learn from those mistakes. Then move forward with confidence in God’s mercy, which is stronger than any sin. If other people have regretfully made mistakes that affected you, ask God to help you treat them with kindness despite their flaws.
Forgive the people who have hurt you. Ask God to help you follow His command to forgive everyone who has hurt you. Rather than stewing in bitterness, holding grudges, repeatedly blaming others, or trying to take revenge, choose to forgive each person for each hurtful incident as an act of your will to obey God – and in the process, God will gradually heal your feelings, setting you emotionally free.
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