Many years ago, I asked some friends if I could join them for a prayer meeting they were holding.
They said “No.”
This wasn’t the answer I was expecting.
It wasn’t as if I was asking to go on holiday with them or join them for a private party. In my mind, asking if I could go to the prayer meeting was just me being polite; I never expected them to say No.
My feelings were hurt. I reacted physically and my stomach started to hurt, and my eyes stung as if I was going to cry.
I felt rejected and I felt worthless. I’m not an emotionally strong person, I’m easily feeling hurt.
Feeling sorry for myself
I started to wonder about what my friends thought of me, how much they valued me, and where I fit in into the whole group. I thought about this a lot. In fact, it seemed to take over most of my thinking because friends are so important to us and, especially in these days of social media, we can easily see what they are doing. I saw that the next time they got together they didn’t automatically invite me, as they used to do. I had been “dropped”.
The result of this was that I felt very sorry for myself.
“It has to stop”
But one day, after I had been unhappy about it for quite a time, I suddenly realised that I cared more about what other people thought about me than about what God thought about me.
When the Spirit shows us that what we have been doing, thinking or feeling isn’t in agreement with God’s Word, then it has to stop. Even if I think that what I am doing, thinking or feeling is right.
Yes, it is possible to be confused for a while, but when that confusion lifts, when we see clearly, then we have no excuse to hold on to hurt feelings and blaming the actions of other people for the way we are.
There are therapists that can teach us how to change our negative thought patterns into positive ones, and this can be a useful skill especially if we are dealing with specific, painful situations from the past; but this will just help us with our mental health.
When I sense my human nature is involved, that which always wants attention and is disappointed when I don’t get what I want, then I need to get to the root of my problem. That it was more important for me what people thought about me, than what God thought about me. And when I see how wrong this is and I go to God and repent, a wonderful thing happens - God sends His Spirit which fills me with courage and hope, and power to say No to thinking only about myself and what other people think about me.
Making a firm decision
It’s not my fault that I easily feel hurt, I was born that way, but I should not let it rule my life. My relationship with God becomes stronger when I keep going to Him saying, “Help me with this!” For me, it came down to a firm decision. One day when I was alone, I said out loud, “I stop with all these selfish thoughts; I stop feeling sorry for myself and worrying about what people think of me. From now on, I want to please God and Him alone.”
I made a firm decision. It can be that simple, that quick, and that liberating.
So, each time I start to have feelings of being hurt, I remember that decision I made, and send up a quick prayer: “Help me now!” and I sense I am becoming more and more free from my nature which so quickly feels hurt by what others do to me.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.
And the people who didn’t want me to go to their prayer meeting? We now have really good fellowship together, and I can talk with them without thinking of what had happened in the past. I fought that particular “battle” and won. And that is the power of the gospel – it really does make us free.