“I’m just so hurt…and angry. We’re supposed to be family, but they don’t treat me like family,” she said. “They treat me like I’m the girl their son is dating…like I’m someone he brings along with him…and I won’t be there next time. But we’ve been married for two years!” She poked aimlessly at her salad then put her fork down. “I know I shouldn’t feel this way.”
My friend is God’s girl and wants so desperately to reflect well on Him. She even articulated her struggle.
“I don’t want to be angry and frustrated. Those aren’t holy emotions.”
Wait a minute. I’m not sure our emotions are holy or unholy. They’re just emotions. They are indicators of what our hearts are feeling.
Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)
God does indeed call His children to live holy, set apart lives. He calls us to holiness for a purpose: so others can know Him through us. Our lives are a reflection of the God we serve. That’s why God calls us to live differently from those who do not know Him.
When someone hurts us He asks us to:
- respond with love
- pray for our offenders
- trust Him to settle the score…or not
- resist the urge to speak badly of them
God calls us to holy living…even when we’ve been hurt.
But God doesn’t shame us for feeling hurt or angry. In fact, He tells us to feel the emotion, but to choose a holy response.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26)
Our emotions actually confirm that we are created “in the likeness of God.” (Genesis 5:1) God has emotions, too. Even “negative” ones.
- He hurts when we ignore His voice. (Isaiah 63:10)
- He grieves when we choose to disobey. (Genesis 6:6)
- He feels angry when we repeatedly ignore Him. (Judges 2:20-23)
But God does not allow His emotions to rule. He treats us according to His Word and His character instead of His emotions.
So when God calls us to be holy as He is holy…even when we’ve been hurt…He’s asking us also to respond according to His Word and His character. That means we can feel hurt, rejected, annoyed, angry or jealous, but choose to respond in a godly way.
People who do not know God and do not have Him living within them feel their emotions and act on them.
People who know God and have the Holy Spirit within them can feel their emotions but choose to do what is right regardless.
How do you do that?
- Own, feel and express your emotions in the presence of the Lord. He is your safe place. (Psalm 38:9)
- Ask Him to speak truth to your heart and adjust your emotions. (Psalm 119:25)
- Ask God for wisdom so you can respond with His perspective. (Psalm 51:6)
- Search the Bible for how God instructs us to respond in similar situations. (Psalm 25:4)
- Ask God to help you walk in His Spirit, demonstrating His character, instead of walking in the flesh and demonstrating your fleshly desires. (Galatians 5:16)
- Spend time with God each day in prayer and Scripture reading. This is how God develops His character in you so that you more easily respond with holiness. (Romans 12:2)
Gradually, as we spend time daily with God, read His Word and choose right responses despite our feelings, an interesting thing happens. Our emotions often change. They lose the power they once had and become more temporary in nature. They stop ruling.
Sister, we are called to live holy…even when we’ve been hurt. But that doesn’t mean you have to deny your emotions. Instead allow God to heal your hurts…and He will also make you holy.
A Prayer Suggestion
If you struggle to respond with holiness because the hurt is too deep, you may have allowed bitterness to take root in the soil of your heart. Acknowledge your bitterness—deeply rooted anger, resentment or jealousy—to God. Agree with Him that you have sinned by allowing these emotions to grow unchecked in your heart. Ask Him to replace the bitterness with love, grace and forgiveness.
If your heart has been wounded and you are struggling to find healing, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.