They seem so justified in the moment. When I have been wounded, it is easier to slip into these reactions than to choose healing. That mindless descent is still a choice though. Simply reacting in my emotion is a choice just like healing.
Reactions do not just “blow off steam”. They directly effect the friend, others, and myself. Revenge is a first thought when I am hurt. Suspicion quickly follows on its heels. Bitterness seeps in and embeds itself into my heart. It establishes revenge and suspicion as a cycle, then spreads like decay, slowly destroying me from the inside out.
The cycle begins when I react to the perpetrator. I want revenge. I am angry and hurt- so they should be too! I want them to hurt like I hurt. I want them to wake up one day and realize what they did to me. I want them to weep because they see how much they tore at my soul.
I want them to weep because I want them to care about me again.
Then the suspicion sets in; a reaction that effects others. You have heard about my doubts before. They burst into my heart through the still-open wounds. They confuse me and shuffle my priorities. Suspicion seeps into my relationships with other people. In the process, I often end up wounding others.
The reaction in myself is far worse. It solidifies the other two. Bitterness ensures that revenge will be my only attitude toward the person and suspicion the only option of dealing with others. If I choose this reaction, I limit my abilities for friendships. I chain myself. The other two are wrong, but this one ensures I cannot choose healing. It is the hardest to break through.
To prevent that, I must choose healing ASAP. I talked about the first steps here. Healing is a little different for each wound, but I do have three main actions to help.
One is to take a break from the relationship that is broken. This is similar to acknowledging pain. It allows me to return to the relationship with a clear head so I can see what needs to be done. This also lessens the temptation for revenge- or at least limits the opportunities for me to carry it out.
The second big step is to cry out to God. With Him I can pour our how I feel, my pain, my anger, etc. to the most understanding friend in the universe. I also make sure my relationship with Him is what it should be. Sometimes I place too many expectations on others to do what only God can do for me. Paul Tripp recently wrote a concise post about this. I am finally learning to have God as my closest friend first. He will never betray me. He is perfect, so any human friends after Him do not need to be (good thing since no human is).
Another thing in choosing healing is to invest in at least three other relationships. I have to choose not to cut myself off from other people. Isolation, after all, would be what my doubts want. Investing in multiple friendships also keeps me from putting all my needs and hopes onto one person, who can never live up to my dreams.
For more ways to choose healing, visit Revive Our Hearts: How to Move on When You’ve Been Betrayed.
Reacting in pain only doles out more pain. The point of revenge is to hurt those who have hurt us. Suspicion infects every relationship indiscriminately. Bitterness destroys ourselves. Then the cycle starts again. Others seek revenge. More humans doubt and grow bitter. Every time we allow this cycle, more relationships are damaged. At some point, someone must stop.
Someone has to be the bigger person and choose to heal. Ideally everyone should choose healing, but that is never going to happen. Here in reality, something has to be done. If I want to have relationships with people- relationships that last, I have to chose healing.
*Sigh* It strokes my ego to talk about all this. I can be so passionate with words that remain only on a screen. But in life…oh, that is so much harder. There, I actually have to face people. In real life, my head starts to buzz with “but it is not fair!” and “this is all their fault!”. It takes work to quiet my immediate reactions, but I have to start somewhere (I owe it to humanity).
Reactions tend to be actions we regret. Lets do the best thing for each other and choose healing.