1. Acceptance. Accept that the people who hurt you are not perfect. They were probably damaged long before they entered your life. They could not value you because they did not value themselves, and so they could not appreciate your brilliance. Accept that the relationship was not healthy and the situation was toxic. Accept that it is over and you are now entering a new season. Learn from it, make your peace and move on with the business of living.
2. Be honest with yourself. It’s likely that you knew the relationship was wrong from the very beginning. There were warning signs and nagging doubts, but you shrugged them off and plunged right in, head first, and by doing so you compromised your values and discounted your worth. You were afraid of being alone. You thought there might not be another. You convinced yourself you needed a relationship to be whole, and when you are hurting you pretended you never saw it coming. But by admitting the part you played you will be a step closer to healing the hurt and reclaiming yourself.
3. Forgiveness. Forgive yourself and those who have harmed you. Forgiving someone who has hurt you is for your benefit and your benefit alone, and while it does not repair the damage done, it writes it off. Like bad debts written off by a lender, you will remember it, but you are no longer burdened by the payments. See the parable of the unmerciful servant in Mathew 18:21-35. Jesus introduced the parable by saying there is no sin committed against us that we cannot forgive; then through the parable He taught us that we can always forgive others because God has already forgiven us far more than we will ever need to forgive someone else.
I can tell you from personal experience that it is not always easy to forgive, quite often it takes time, but it is never impossible regardless of the magnitude of the pain inflicted. Forgiveness also frees you to discover and fully embrace your gifts and purpose. And here is something else I have learned on my difficult journey to forgiveness: when you’re dragging around the baggage of resentment, bitterness and revenge, you rob yourself of the joy of living. Gift someone the gift of forgiveness today and open your heart to fully receive God’s love and walk in that love.
4. Restoration! Yes. You have shed the excess baggage and it’s now time to restore your mind…and your body. It’s time to reclaim the parts of you that you have hidden away in order to survive the unimaginable. You are no longer a victim. You are an over-comer. You have taken back your power and the wind is on your back. You can now use your abuse: sexual, physical, verbal, or betrayal as an opportunity to transform or reinvent yourself. Invest time in yourself to discover who you are and who you were meant to be. Spend time in God’s presence to develop an intimate relationship with Him.
I believe that every pain, every heartache I endure in my life has made me a better, more insightful and compassion person. Life was in fact, preparing me for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. (Psalm 71:20-21 NIV)
5. Now it’s time to write the vision and make it plain! Our Father instructed us to “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Christ taught us to be bold. Be bold in your prayers. Be intentional and persistence about the things you desire, but reach high and wide. He’s omnipresent and He knows your name. From the moment you forgave the one who has hurt you, you became a new person. He/she no longer has control over your emotions or your choices. You are no longer held hostage to your past. You are a new person with a new mind and a new attitude. Does this mean you’ll never again be hurt, frustrated, disappointed, sad or lonely? No. Does this mean your past will no longer affect your thought life? No. But not all pain is destructive. The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart (Proverbs 17:3 NIV).
It takes intense heat to purify gold. Similarly, it often takes the heat of trials for us to mature and be purified. So when you’re on the Potter’s wheel, it can be very painful, nevertheless some of life’s best lessons come through painful experiences, but effective living begins with a great attitude towards God. Do not allow your past, or the people who have hurt you to define you because it’s never where, or how your journey in life begins, it’s how it ends.
I cringe when I hear people say, I have no choice. In most situations we do have a choice! It may not be the choice we would have liked, but most likely there are other options. It’s also possible that the choice you need to make will cost you to lose something you believe you need, or even someone close to you, but the alternative could cost you your soul. Choose to love and hold to God. Choose to live!