Contrary to what many people think, when a right-minded person has to think about ending a relationship, it hurts him or her very much. Why? Perhaps the simplest but most inadequate answer is love! It hurts because we love the other person. It hurts because we are human beings with hearts.
It hurts even more when one finds that he or she had been betrayed, ignored, or abandoned. The pains are not merely physical ones but detrimental ones that pierce and haunt the person emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually as well. I work with a lot of people who are hurt and there are simply no short, logical solutions that could properly explain the hurts. We are complex human beings and it takes time to deal with the pains given to us. We are not machines that could simply be programmed and understand things logically and dismiss the complex layers of humanity. Even if one understands things logically in the head, it still takes time to let go, internalize, and put into practice what the heart needs to embrace and accept.
In the midst of hurts, it is VERY tempting to walk away. In order to end the hurt(s) given, it is very appealing to end or detach ourselves from the source of pain(s) as soon as possible. That is the natural thing to do! Yet, as Christians, we are empowered and called to something greater. It requires us to seek and trust in God’s supernatural grace to pray, forgive, perhaps even to mend and reconcile the relationship. Trust me! I had experienced betrayals and hurts many times in my life. They hurt… A LOT! Yet, in the midst of them, I always tried to make time and effort to calm myself down. I try to listen to what the Lord is asking of me instead of what I would personally or naturally want to do. Trust me, it is hard!!! Even if I can see what God is asking me to do, I still have to give myself the time to calm and sift through the raw emotions and feelings caused by the hurts. Hence, this is exactly what I am trying to invite everyone to see… We need to give ourselves time in order to properly respond instead of making hasty reactionary decisions.
We need time to process, to understand, and to pray about God’s will in the midst of what happened and is happening. We are not machines who can just do calculative measures and perform formulaic decisions. We are complex human beings that have many layers, requiring time to unpeel, understand, and discern! If we rush into things to escape or avoid the hurts, we might end up making decisions that are improper, unwise, or even detrimental, especially in the long run. Without a doubt, it is important to give ourselves time in the midst of hurts to let the raw emotions and feelings settle as we sift through the facts. It gives us also the time to properly pray in and through the hurts. If we look back at how we dealt with similar situations in the past, we can see that there was always a kind of slow, calm, mature progression in decision-making skills when we give enough time to pray, reflect, and discern what really needed to be done in light of divine teachings instead of what was personally or naturally inclined.
When I meet with a person or couple that has been affected with hurts that caused a rupture in their marital relationship, I often try to advise them to read the Book of the Prophet Hosea. I believe the message God had given to the prophet is very relatable (on many levels) to those who have been hurts and/or seeking to practice forgiveness. The book speaks about many things that we can relate with: first love, separation (due to infidelity/betrayal), and reconciliation.
As with everything, the first love is often filled with a period of loyalty and faithfulness, yet temptations crept in, weaknesses prevailed, and betrayals happened. Unfaithfulness ruptured the relationship, yet reconciliation and salvation were promised and given. The book connected the prophet’s own journey with his spouse to the Lord’s love and forgiveness of Israel. His writing described the relationship between the Lord and His people in terms of marriage. And yes, his writing can be relatable to many who are struggling with forgiveness, especially allowing true love to overcome and be vindicated. Just as the Lord and His love have the last word in Hosea, each and every one of us can choose to let the grace of God be found and practiced through forgiveness by redeeming and reconciling what seems to be lost and beyond repair.
I have seen too many people walk away from a relationship because the “flame” is no longer there or because it has become too tough to love the other person. At every roadblock, obstacle, and challenge, we are invited and are called to learn to love and forgive in new ways. True love reminds that it is deeper than the surface feelings or emotions, for it requires us to be vulnerable, genuine, open, and trust the other person even though we might not feel inclined to at the time. While it is easy to walk away, it is harder to stay and learn to love in new ways. While it hurts and challenging to stay in the midst of the storm and its struggles of loving someone, it is a valuable lesson that love is much more than what meets the eye, what can be sensed or felt, what can be beneficial or understood at the moment.
Humanly speaking, we have failed to love as we should all the time, and that is why to be loved also means to be hurt as both sides learn to embrace and love one another through the tough times. It means to love each other in new ways when our old concept of what it means to love is gone. I wrote a reflection about reconciliation and forgiveness in the past that might be beneficial for you and your loved ones.
However, most important of all, it is important to realize that our love for one another has to be grounded and enriched by Christ as we learn to pray and care for each other just as He has loved us. Relationships are bound to fail and run dry when they are not Christocentric. We can only learn to love the other person when we learn to care for them beyond the apparent feelings and emotions at the time. We will never grow deeper in love if we choose to walk away or when it gets tough. Perhaps it will be tough to handle and understand at the time! (I am not talking about toxic, destructive, codependent and unhealthy relationships, for that is another topic.) However, the pains that we are going through in our growth periods will empower and strengthen us to truly love one another deeply as we learn to be more grounded in our commitment and faithfulness to one another — beyond the apparent (challenging) matters at hand.
For those who are struggling to love one another in their present trials, do not let the growing pains make you lose focus on the joy (at times, a small, insignificant one) of loving one another through Christ. The loss of focus on the true joy and love can happen very easily as we focus on the mistakes, what has not been done, or what should be done. Remember that this is the same person that we fell in love with! Even though things might change a little bit or the present trials might make them or us lose focus on the original flame of love, this is still the same person. Therefore, it is important to not lose focus on the original joy and love for the person in the midst of our life and relationship’s challenges.
Therefore, let us not give up just yet! Let us learn to persevere in the trials, especially the hurts with their pains and sufferings, by learning to love the other person through personal commitment and faithfulness. Even though it seems very hard now, the wonderful grace of God will strengthen us and the reward resulted from the trials will enrich us beyond ways that we can understand or comprehend now. Truly, there is a beautiful, unexplainable grace in the midst of our daily decisions to love, even if it hurts us now. Even in our challenges, as we walk through the desert and passing through the storms of life, let us not give up but learn to grow, take deeper roots in Christ, and store up the much-needed love for one another in the present trials. Let us try our best to forgive and love as He loves.