How to React to Words that Hurt Us

By Rachel Britton

Photo by Emily Fletke  @fletkefoto

Photo by Emily Fletke @fletkefoto

The best way to respond to words that hurt is to attack back. That’s what I used to think. I’m still trying not to react in that way. Just the other day I shot back a blunt response to a comment that had left me upset and angry. If I was going to sleep well that night and not toss and turn, I thought the person needed to know how I felt. I slept like a baby, but regret came in the morning. That method had not worked.

So, how should we deal with words spoken by other people that seem sure to destroy us?

I’ve learned some steps from a woman named Hannah. Her rival made her so miserable, she couldn’t eat. Read her story here. Know that feeling? Off your food because of the meanness of another person.

Hannah could have confronted her attacker, stood up to her, and given as good as she received. But, here’s what Hannah did instead, and we can follow her example:

STEP ONE: DECIDE YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH.

Get up. Don’t wallow in misery. Be determined to do something about the situation. But...

STEP TWO: DON’T CONFRONT THE OTHER PERSON. (Lesson to self.)

Think twice about giving as good as you get. Retaliation gives you immediate but temporary relief. And, don’t go and blurt it all out to your best friend. Often, that comes back to bite you. Instead…

STEP THREE: GRAB A BIG BOX OF KLEENEX AND SHUT YOURSELF IN YOUR ROOM.

Do this when no one else is around because you won’t want them to hear what follows:

STEP FOUR: LET IT ALL OUT TO GOD.

Shout, scream, cry, pummel the bed, throw the pillows, whatever helps.

Why direct it to God, you might be asking?

  1. God fully understands relationships, good and bad. He knows what it is to experience a perfect relationship — with his Son. He also, from the beginning of time, has experience with relationships going wrong.

  2. God knows what it’s like to have people jeering at you, to be humiliated, and to be let down. Jesus experienced all of these — in spades.

  3. God knows everything that’s going on in your life, your mind, and your heart, so you can be brutally honest with him about the whole lot.

  4. What’s said to God stays with God. No fear of him passing on the details.

  5. God promises to take our pain and replace it with peace. Keep God to his promise.

  6. God is powerful. Believe in his ability to change the situation, the other person, and the way you are feeling.

STEP FIVE: TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND BELIEVE GOD’S GOT THIS!

Circumstances can change. Peace is not only promised, but is possible. Have faith.

STEP SIX: LET YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR ROOM.

Go to Milk Bar and buy a Cereal Milk soft serve with extra crunchy bits. Ice cream will never taste so good. Wear your sunglasses — nothing like red, puffy eyes to give yourself away.

Hannah, well, her life changed dramatically. After praying in a way that made her look like she’d had too many glasses of Chianti, she radiated peace, and got her appetite back.

Because Hannah took everything to God, he worked good into her circumstances. What had worn her down, God used to honor and lift her up. However, the story doesn’t end there. Hannah gave all the praise and thanks back to God.

When God makes a difference in our lives, let’s not forget to do that, too.

Whose words are wearing you down? Will you try the steps above?