Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dealings With Feelings

On the short list of things I am really good at is this: getting my feelings hurt.


I guess this hypersensitivity is the flip side of being able to sense people's secrets across a crowded room and of laughing out loud at subtle humor in novels.

Paul, for example, rarely gets his feelings hurt.  But then, he doesn't enjoy funny stories like I do, or feel deep raptures over apple blossoms against a blue sky.

So.  I often get my feelings hurt, and then I have to decide:

What do I do now?

I'm a Christian, that changes the rules for these things.

And I want to follow Scripture.

So, somebody says or does something hurtful.

Of course I'm supposed to forgive.

And I shouldn't spread it abroad but of course it's ok to share it privately with people close to me who can help, like my husband, daughters, sisters, sisters-in-law, a friend or two, an aunt or two, and my counselor.

[Kidding, I hope you realize.]

But then what?

Do I drop it and move on and try to laugh about it?

Or do I say something to the offender?

That is the big question for me.

Confronting is one of the hardest jobs ever.
Letting it go can mean you're avoiding the tough issues.

A few insights:

"Drop it" is for situations where:
--I'll never see the person again.
--It won't change who they are and how they operate.
--They don't want to know.

"Say something" is for situations where:
--I know they'd want to know.
--We will continue to see each other, especially when we have to work together.
--This damages our relationship, and our relationship is important to me.
--I want to protect other people they may be doing this to.

We have Proverbs19:11 NIV
"A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense."

And then we have Matthew 5:23-24, which is kind of the reverse situation but I think it applies in terms of relationships and reconciliation.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. is still very very hard sometimes to know what to do.

How do you know if you have a valid concern or you're just being whiny and wimpy?

Is it worth the very real risk that they won't hear you and it'll become a much bigger deal than it ought?

Also, so many factors weigh in: someone in authority vs. a peer; family vs. friend, male vs. female, and so on.

And: healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries, going the second mile vs. making it easy for someone to sin, etc.

Yes, I'm facing such a situation and I wish there were easy and obvious answers.

I do know this: Personally, I like to be told. It's a sign that people trust me and that they understand that I know I make lots of mistakes and say things wrong, but I'm open to changing.

A while back a woman told me that whenever I see her, I ask her [details changed here] "How is teaching going this year?" and it is very hurtful and she wishes I'd ask, "How are YOU?"

Well of course I felt bad, but I was so so so happy and relieved that she felt safe in telling me, and she knew I'd want to know, and she trusted that I would do my best to change.

That part made me very happy.

Because we all know the sad hopelessness of a person who goes around wounding people all the time, and we know there's no reason to even try talking to them, because they won't change.

Meanwhile, I still have my situation, and there are no obvious answers.  I was deeply hurt, and I have a feeling I wasn't the first nor will I be the last.

But I don't see the hurter that often.

But I WILL have to talk to him/her again, I know that.

We might even have to work together, which would be much easier if this could be addressed.

Not to mention that I'm now afraid to be around him/her.

But it might become a huge deal if I bring it up.

And they didn't mean to be hurtful--but then hurters always say that.

Paul says he supports me either way.

How do others decide these things?  How do YOU?

That's what I'd like to know.

And let me hasten to say, it wasn't you who hurt my feelings.  I'm quite sure That Person never stops by the Shoe.

Quote of the Day:
[while making food with my friend Sharon and four teenage helpers at the ACE Junior Convention last week, just after Steven threw a wet dishcloth at Sharon]
Sharon: STEVEN...?!  Help me out--I need a middle name!
Me: Ochieng.
Sharon: That's too complicated!


  1. Matthew 18:15-17
    This seems to cover many trespass (sin) against someone. I don't presume to add to Scripture, but I think in some cases it would be more proper, when dealing with someone of the opposite sex, to take your husband/wife/pastor along for the "one-on-one" part of this. It is obviously not easy to confront someone, even in love. But we are given these directions and should follow them. For one thing, the one-on-one allows you to find out if it is just a misunderstanding and can stop the "process" before others get involved.

    Of course, if a crime was committed the person will be responsible for their actions to the state. They should still be forgiven but I'm not sure how the Matthew 18 verses would apply in some cases.

    And of course, what is a trespass against us? Is it something against Scripture, or is it something we were offended about when no one else would have been? We need to be sure they have actually transgressed the Word and not just offended our delicate sensibilities. Some thoughts anyway.

  2. Are you wanting to confront the issue OR are you wanting to protect others from the pain this person causes?

  3. Thank you for being very honest! For some of us timid souls, it is not easy to confront! We would rather "nurse" our pain!!:-) But confronting is still the best way, and one often discovers that the other person meant no real harm!!

  4. I am not shy or timid at all, but I am a peacemaking middle child, so I totally hear you! Let me know when you get it all figured out. :-)

  5. My take is that the Matthew scripture is talking about when you have done something that someone takes offence about, then it is your responsibility to go and reconcile with them. Of course you have to be discerning enough to know you have offended them... but usually it is pretty obvious.

    Much tougher is when someone offends you. By the Matthew scripture it is their responsibility to come to you. If they don't, then you have two choices: because you know it might be a barrier between you and the other person, then Matthew applies regardless of who started it. Otherwise, Proverbs is great... overlook it and forgive.

    And of course you know (as evidenced by your worry about it) cover every thing in love. It is amazing how often Proverbs can apply when you love the person... and when you must reconcile because Christ wants unity for us all, love can both help you approach the person and guide the discussion.

    my .02

    Thanks for sharing your blog with us!

  6. Sometimes if I'm wondering if I should address an issue, I pray, "Lord, if you want me to talk to this person about this, please open the door and I will walk through it". Then if the door opens, "Lord, help me know just what to say here." I've found that opening the door myself just ends up with both of us being hurt, because the "offender" and I start reacting to each other. On the other side of the coin, I am simply amazed at how smoothly it can go if God clears the way. I hope this can be helpful. -PC in VA

  7. Thanks for an excellent article. I have no answers but readily identify with the situation. Maybe after you've made the decision whether to confront or drop it we'll see another article. I do know there's a world of difference if it's done in the spirit of Jesus or of myself.


  8. How interesting! I have a dear sister (blood), who likes to keep putting me and my family in place. . .ouch. It happens, when she is facing, one of her children's weddings, or other changes. . or right before my husband leaves for a CAM rebuilding project. .etc. etc. I feel like retaliating, but when I look at her issues, it stems from jealousy. . and then I begin to realize the reason she had setting me straight actions in our growing up years. . .help! My husband always reminds me to forgive, it does not help to explain my actions or my families. I have a choice, to live my life and be happy. Most important is to pray for her! She admits feeling mad at others, and I'm sure that would not be an easy situation to deal with either. Somehow, it is not real helpful to a close sister relationship! Just a Praying Sister

  9. Really, technically, you are not really a confrontational person, so you won't be "confrontong" this person, you'll just be "approaching" them with the intention of mending or preserving a relationship. Oddly enough, the way you phrase it in your own head can make it more, or less, least for me.

    I have found it much easier to approach the offender in a "nurturing/protecting our friendship" mindset, than in a "standing up for myself" mindset, even though it really was standing up for myself that needed to be done.

    It's so much easier to defend those you love than to defend yourself!