Recently I experienced an attack I wasn't prepared for. It caught me off guard and left me speechless. Part of me was beating myself up because I didn't have a well-equipped response. Instead, I took the time to process the attack before I would respond. As I read my Bible, I realized that not reacting at that moment was not only Biblical but also a form of Biblical Self-Care. The old me would have had an explosive reaction or stuffed it and had it manifest into depression. My anger would have gotten the best of me, and I likely would have said things in a way that I would have regretted.
Instead, I listened to their attack and how they manipulated scripture, using Christianese words to justify their actions. I knew what they were saying was wrong. It certainly didn't align with Biblical truth or even the truth of the overall experience they were referring to. However, I didn't have the words at that moment to respond appropriately to their attack. Proverbs 13:3 "Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." In other words, I dodged a bullet by keeping my mouth shut. I kept myself from having to process my own wrongdoing had I had a bad reaction to them and instead was able to stay focused on how God would have me respond to their attack in a way that represented Him.
So, how is processing a form of Biblical self-care? The reality is I am hurting deeply right now. My head spun angrily, and I only wanted to defend myself. When I take my anger to Christ and have Him help me process my pain, I am allowing Him to help me see the circumstance through His eyes, resulting in me responding like Him. The cherry on top of remaining silent and processing my hurt with Him is it allows Him to comfort me in a way no human can.
- The first way to process is to CONSIDER THE SOURCE of the attack. Who attacked you? How old are they? What is their maturity level? Are they Christian? Where are they in their walk? In evaluating their lives, can you pinpoint possible trauma that they are operating from? This is called grace. Processing in this way helps us to calm down. It allows us to recognize that although they attacked us, this may not be about us; we are just the current whipping post. If we are honest with ourselves, we can look back on our own healing journey and recognize that we have, at one time or another, been the attacker in our woundedness in the past, and we needed grace. Recognizing that is humility. Ask yourself, what did I need at that moment?
- The second part of the process is HUMILITY; Did you do anything wrong? If you removed their ugly approach to the situation and read between the lines, can you see any truth? In Psalm 139:23-24 it says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting!" In other words, PRAY! Ask God in humility to show you if any part of what they said may be factual. They may not have the maturity to express their hurt in a healthy way, but we may have the ability to heal a wound that we didn't recognize they had and be the bigger person. That doesn't mean we excuse their behavior. It does mean that we are capable in our maturity to come back to them and say, "It's hard to hear your heart through your attack, and it's not an effective way to heal past hurts, but I was able to process what you said and pray about it. What I think I hear you saying is that you are hurt over ___________. I want to apologize or address that with you in love." Hopefully, this will resolve the issue and help you move forward in a healthy relationship because, ultimately, that is the goal. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 In some circumstances, you have already addressed the issue, and they have chosen not to forgive and move forward with you. That doesn't mean you must continue subjecting yourself to their attacks. In the future, you can say, "I have already addressed this issue and clarified what I meant or apologized for what I said or did; I am going to remove myself now from this conversation because it's not moving us forward, and I've already said all that I'm going to say about it, when you are ready to move forward in forgiveness, I am here for that."
- Third, process your hurt and anger through PRAYER. Matthew 5:43-45 says, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven." This person may not be your enemy in the sense that you would qualify an enemy, but their attack wasn't said or done in love, so it falls in this category, and God calls us to pray for them. When we do this, we align ourselves with the Spirit of Christ that lives in us. The Bible says, "If your enemy is hungry, give them food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." Proverbs 25:21-22. Some people are genuinely operating from a place of trauma, which has nothing to do with us. What they are screaming for when they lash out is they desperately need unconditional LOVE. Pray for their healing and for God to soften their hearts and continue showing them Christ's love. Doing this is different from what they are used to. In my case, this person continues to try to push me and others out of their lives by being ugly, disrespectful, and dishonoring in every way, but we are showing them the true love of Christ by doing the opposite of what reaction they are used to. God will bless your obedience in doing what is right even when they are being un-christ-like. The Bible says, do not repay evil for evil. "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this, you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." 1 Peter 3:9-14
- The fourth way to process your hurt and anger is SURRENDER! To move forward and truly receive the Biblical self-care you seek, you must surrender your anger and lay it at the foot of the cross. What does that mean? It means that their attack is poison. If you swallow poison, what happens to you? You get sick. If you repeatedly consume your anger over a multitude of circumstances, that poison will eventually kill you! John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." When we surrender our right to be angry to God and allow His Spirit of peace to replace that anger, we trust Him with that person. We say, "God, I can't change this person or make them treat me better, but I know you can if they are willing. I will continue to pray for them. I know that you love them and want to heal them. I will be patient and wait on you while you soften their heart towards you. In the meantime, I will continue to be an example of you by loving them the way you call me to, despite what my flesh wants to do. I surrender my hurt and anger and ask that you help me forgive them. Lord, replace that anger with your peace that passes all understanding." Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
- Fifth, MEDITATE on this Bible Verse; Galatians 5:16-25 "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
- Sixth, FORGIVE THEM. "Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.' And they cast lots to divide his clothing." Luke 23:34 After going through step one of processing who this person is and where they are operating from, often you can see that they are at a different stage of growth and maturity than you are. They may be unable to recognize their wrongdoing at this time, and as they mature, they will. They also may have a misguided understanding of scripture and are growing in their faith; we need to be patient with them. They may have had people in their lives that mistreated them and called themselves Christians, and they believe what they do is right based on their examples. Forgive them anyway! Be patient and continue to pray for them as God takes them through the refining process. By you responding in a Christ-like way, you are teaching them the right way. By praying for them, you allow the Holy Spirit to move in their lives as no one else can.
You have just practiced Biblical self-care by processing your hurt and anger this way. As you took each step to process, you felt the offense lifted, the anxiety released, and the heaviness removed. Now you are ready to get on with your day. The enemy has officially lost another battle. Christ won again, and you can continue to walk in the freedom of your salvation!