If you’ve ever been hurt by someone, and I imagine you have, it’s hard to trust again. I remember a great disappointment I had years ago when a friend and church leader left the church I served and severed our friendship. When something like that happens, you don’t want to open up to others out of fear that more disappointment is on the horizon.
I’ve also been on the other side of that equation. I had to let a staff member go many years ago, and he felt I had betrayed him. In my heart I knew I hadn’t, but I hurt him nonetheless, and it took ten years before he was able to forgive me.
How do you love again if your love has been spurned? How do you reach out again if you’ve been rejected? How do you open yourself up again if you’ve gotten stabbed in the back?
A poet once wrote,
How did the rose ever open its heart,
and give to the world all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too frightened
(The Gift: Poems by Hafiz).
Fear is a strong dissuader of friendship. But its only remedy is to do that which our wound tells us not to do—love once again. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
The problem with love is we think we have to manufacture it. We assume that love originates with us, but it doesn’t. “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and if we seek love, we must first seek God.
Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches. If we remain in Him, we bear much fruit, “for apart from [Him] we can do nothing” (John 15:5). To love again starts with our acceptance of being loved. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
If you’ve been hurt by another, you can choose one of three responses. First, you can lash out at the offender and be overcome with anger and bitterness. In so doing, your focus is diverted from Christ to the offender, and you deplete your love.
Second, you can internalize your pain and condemn yourself as someone who “deserved” what happened, because you’re a horrible person. In so doing, your focus is diverted from Christ to self, and you also deplete your love.
Third, you can release your pain to Jesus, come to Him, and let Him give you rest (Matthew 11:28-29). In so doing, your focus is diverted to the One who gives an endless supply of love. Drink of His love to heal your broken heart, and then, like the rose that opens with light and gives to the world all its beauty, you can open your heart and love once again.