When Hurting People Hurt People

A friend was going through a trial and as I showed up week after week, her lack of appreciation was causing a sliver of hurt in my heart.  That sliver grew, until one evening as I was sitting with her trying to love her the best way I knew how, she suddenly stood up and walked away without another word or hug that always ended our conversations.  I was stunned. I grasped for straws of grace in my brain willing myself to not be hurt.


 In the car on the way home, my husband asked, “Did you say anything that she could have taken offensively?” Up until that point I had assumed it was her hurt that caused her to respond.


The truth is, showing up in someone’s pain can be messy.  Then, when the friend doesn’t respond like we think they should, we end up hurt too.  I don’t know about you, but my first reaction is to pull away.  I’m not sure that is the best thing for the person you are trying to love.

Three Places of a Hurting Friend’s Pain

  •  You:  You did offend them – even if you didn’t mean to. It’s not what you say, but what they hear.  They are responding to their hurt.
  •  Them:  It is them. They are wrapped in their pain and don’t respond appropriately or kindly.
  • Both of You – There is a misunderstanding. One of you misunderstood with the other was saying.

I knew I hadn’t hurt my friend on purpose, but I realized it could be something I unintentionally said, a misunderstanding, or her pain. So when I got home I texted and asked her if I had offended her. I assured her of my love,  and told her I would be praying.

 That wouldn’t have been my response a few years ago. I would have let the hurt fester causing me to be unable to love my friend in the way she needed me to.


Three Responses to Being Hurt by the Hurting

1. Let Love Cover

Can you move past it?  Can you forget it and  move on? If so, do! A test of whether or not you have truly forgiven and forgotten is how you feel towards your friend.  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor he takes my measure anew every time he sees me, whilst all the rest go on with their old measurements, and expect them to fit me. George Bernard Shaw

2. Confront
By checking  with a friend when something is off, you are doing your best to love yourself and the friend well.  It’s not ok for a friend to throw-up all over you and not be aware of it.  It’s also not ok for you to stop loving a friend because they did.  How glad I am God didn’t give up on me the first or the hundredth time I’ve done that to Him.  It can be hard to show up time and time again when a friend isn’t loving you the way you think they should. As awkward as it can be to ask a friend what’s going on, it’s the example God has for us.


Do it for Jesus!  My husband did a favor for a member of my family. I thanked him and he winked saying "I didn't do it for them - I did it for you."


We don’t love others so they will appreciate us or reciprocate. In doing it for Jesus we release the hurting friend from the obligation to love us well in return.

3. Swallow the Hurt

Don’t pick this response – ever!  It’s always the wrong answer.  By not covering or confronting the sliver of hurt in your heart with grow. It will zap your joy and eventually hurts your relationship with others and with God.


 Question:  Why do you think confrontation is so hard? 


  1. I have an ugly memory of a time I went to make amends with a sister and it blew up in my face, pastors involved, hate all around. To this day we side step one another. My intention was good, my words, unintentionally hurtful. Conflict is hard for me because I go in swinging and wearing a suit of barbs. Don’t hug me if you know what’s good for you… Not that I want it that way, but if I sense a conflict brewing, I start praying I can be honest, yet kind. Not always successful. Your post really got me thinking, which is why the loooooong comment. Thanks.

    • I have been more of a porcupine to those I love that I would like to admit – especially when my good intentions are misunderstood. Oh that I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do. Can’t wait for heaven when we will all be in our holy suits and conflict with be a distant memory!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top
%d bloggers like this: