Closing the Door on Hurtful Words

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F_Anne-Marie

Lately I’ve been seeing a door in my mind, and it’s closed. I often hear from God through images, and this one surprised me. But it’s been so helpful.

I want to be a woman who loves, who understands and accepts others. I want to be a wide-open person and not narrow or overly judge-y, and because of that sometimes I open the door too wide to others’ opinions or judgments of me. I can lose myself while trying to be receptive of others.

I need to be open to the kind of feedback that can help me change and grow. But some feedback that sounds reasonable or is given by someone in a position of knowledge or power is not useful, or is given in a hurtful way. The outcome of that feedback is to tear me down or close me up. It can take a while for me to hear my instincts, especially if it’s an area where someone else has the expertise. But I’m learning to close the door, even on the experts sitting on my doorstep if they’re acting in a destructive manner.

As I’ve been closing my heart door a little more, the shrapnel of rejection and jealous or unkind comments and opinions have begun to cut less deeply. As time goes on I will have less work to do in the process of forgiving and letting things go. And I’m finding it easier to stand outside the situation and act in a thoughtful manner when my own emotions are less riled.

Jesus removed himself from those who would not receive Him, who stubbornly reduced Him to the version they kept of him in their minds: the young child, the gawky teen, the local boy and carpenter’s son. They didn’t want him to be the mature, powerful speaker who stood up in the synagogue and challenged everything. They wanted to reduce him and fit him back in the box they thought he belonged in. Jesus firmly closed the door on both their input and their presence, naming the game and walking away.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (Mark 6:4)

It is such a strange thing that we repeatedly let the opinions of those around us matter so much more and penetrate so much more deeply than the opinion of Christ. He prunes to bring growth, and points out our sin for the purpose of healing. He never speaks to shame or triumph or gain power simply for the sake of power, or to reduce us. He speaks for the sake of setting things right and setting people free.

Being open to the opinions of others who may not be at their best, or may not be able to offer helpful advice steals my peace and leaves me angry and hurt and defensive and clenched.

This image of a door has come to me at the time when I want to put away past experiences that may have been terrible, but are worked through. There’s this sense that it’s ok now to close the door on that situation or past moment that was so frightening.

With that comes this wonderful sense of peace. I am well, loved, held, by one who’s there in the yoke with me, pulling beside me, calling me friend. There are fresh opportunities, skills, challenges, and connections ahead. I’ve more space for them and I have more confidence because I’m opening the door to that which builds me up.

I need to continue attuning my inner ear to the life-giving, soul-building words. I need to listen for the words that shore up, build up, bring courage and hope. Whether challenging or gentle, I need the words that bring life.

Just because we understand, doesn’t mean we have to receive or accept unhealthy input. I’m feeling a new freedom to mentally say, “Thanks, but that input is not being given in a way or with a motive to help, but to harm.”

I can firmly and gently close the door.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” —Proverbs 4:23

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