Let the Pain Go

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Michelle McKinney Hammond


woman has endured one kind of heartbreak or another. We’ve all had the
unfortunate experience of betrayal, and we’ve grieved over the
difficulty of getting past it. As Christian women, how do we process the
hurts we go through? And where is our God in the midst of them?

the book of 2 Samuel, King David’s daughter Tamar suffered an
unspeakable violation at the hands of her brother Amnon, who afterward,
rejected her and cast her away. The Scripture says: “Tamar put ashes on
her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand
on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” (2 Sam. 13:19,

how this tragic scene might have played out. Tamar’s weeping came from
the depths of her soul and ran through the canyons of her entire being.
Clutching her torn garments to her breast as if to reserve the last
shreds of her dignity, she made her way across the courtyard.

ashes with which she had covered herself were a silent witness to the
stain of violation no tears could wash away. Nothing could. If she took a
thousand baths, she would still feel unclean (see 2 Sam. 13:19).

was empty, spent, a prisoner of her own despair. She could still feel
her half-brother Amnon’s eyes glaring at her with intense hatred. Still
hear his words ringing in her ears, “‘Get this woman out of here and
bolt the door behind her'” (2 Sam. 13:17). “This woman! This woman!” She
had been deceived and raped, but being reduced to just another woman in
her half-brother’s eyes was more than she could bear.

sounds of her suffering carried on the wind, drawing the attention of
her brother Absalom. He came bounding from his house to see what had so
devastated her. Absalom said to her: “‘Has that Amnon, your brother,
been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take
this thing to heart.’ And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a
desolate woman” (2 Sam. 13:20).

felt so ashamed as she shared her plight with him. Would he blame her
for this? Would he say that she had done something to entice Amnon? The
thought of his name caused her to shiver in repulsion.

thought Amnon liked her. She had caught his gaze many times when he did
not avert his eyes quickly enough to conceal his longing. It was
inconceivable that he had such evil intentions toward her. Though they
did not share the same mother, the blood of their father, David, joined
them together in a familial bond that could not be ignored.

it was too late. Amnon’s “love” had changed to hatred. As a matter of
fact, he hated Tamar more now than he had ever loved her. Now he cast
her aside carelessly, as if he had never known her at all.

where could she turn? Who would come to her defense? No one had been
present to hear her cries, to witness this travesty. Absalom could only
clumsily comfort her by suggesting that she should not take this matter
to heart.

Absalom did not accuse her, his attempts to calm her did not repair her
shredded soul. How could she not take it to heart? The inner core of
her being had been brutally invaded. Her very soul had been ravaged and
left for dead.

a part of Tamar had died that day. It did not come back to life when,
after several years, Absalom avenged her by killing Amnon. His death
could not console her devastated heart. And as she wandered the halls of
Absalom’s house, day in and day out she resigned herself to believing
that only the night and her dreams would give her relief from the
desolation that had taken up residence within her.

are mandated by God to treat the women in their lives with respect and
honor. They are called to protect and cover us. However, the heart of
fallen man does not always heed the call of the Spirit. When flesh
rules, men and women alike fall prey to selfishness, impulsiveness,
impatience, lust, covetousness, manipulation, strife and every evil

cycle of violation that follows sinks the soul into deeper and deeper
depravity, wreaking more and more destruction on others not aware of the
pain of the offender. Whether it is an abusive mother that builds fury
in the heart of a young man, a father with a perverted sense of
affection toward his young daughter, or some other past relationship or
painful incident, no one knows the motivation of one who violates and
damages another person’s heart, body or spirit.

is no such thing as a small or insignificant violation or offense. One
cannot compare violations to rationalize which will cause less or
greater damage. The bottom line is the pain is a large reality to the
person who has been victimized. To try to explain away the pain or
attempt to put it in any type of context is to demean the one who is
already struggling to make sense of the occurrence.

the pain is the same, the circumstances can be different. One can be
raped emotionally as well as physically. A person’s heart can be
violated by the misinterpreted motives or deceptive actions of another.
The wound can sometimes be deeper than if a physical act had been

trust can give birth to fears that can grow and overwhelm its victim.
In their mind, a thousand “whys” remain unanswered. There may never be a
visible rhyme or reason behind actions of abuse, rape, betrayal,
emotional battery or adultery. Emotional devastation can go deeper than
physical abuse, simply because it can be more difficult to locate the
source of suffering in order to deal with it.

party walks away unscathed by these painful encounters. Regardless of
what the eyes see, both people pay; both lose pieces of themselves.
Those who inflict pain on others are usually weaker than those they
violate and have no knowledge of how to extract themselves from the
prison of anger and pain they find themselves bound in.

antagonist who never suffers the consequences of their actions comes to
believe that there are none. Which in the end only serves to increase
their pain because their abusive behavior is a cry for help.

this knowledge is usually lost on the victim who is trying to recover
from her assault. Both the perpetrator and the victim become people with
the potential to hurt others over and over again until the root of
their anger is addressed and done away with. Such is the cycle of
unresolved pain. Yet the power of God’s healing is always available.

order to embrace the One who comes with healing arms to comfort us, we
must first extricate ourselves from the offense. We will never forget
the experience, but we must choose to understand (this does not mean
justify) and forgive the one who has wronged us. If we allow ourselves
to become prisoners of unforgiveness and bitterness, we are sentenced to
live a life of seclusion, self-loathing and hopelessness.

do you begin to forgive someone who has hurt you? Do you begin sifting
through your pain to find the one grain of rationale that could excuse
the other person’s behavior? Sometimes there is none. What does one do

have all heard that hurt people hurt other people, and this is a fact
that is resoundingly true. It must also be noted that if someone truly
loves you, they would never seek to hurt you on purpose. Yet, loved ones
do offend, they do jolt us emotionally, shock us, dismay us and
sometimes even violate us through shattering the things that are nearest
and dearest to our hearts.

body, your mind and even your self-esteem can be dealt a blow from
which you feel you will never recover, but recovery is just a choice

gift of free will that God gave to us is more powerful than we know.
Many of us have not exercised the greatest reaches of its capacity to
bounce back, overcome and even forgive. Forgive even when you are right
and the other person is wrong.

truth is that forgiveness has nothing to do with who is right or wrong.
Forgiveness is a free agent. It is not attached to reason or agreement
or even understanding. It is however attached to wholeness and to your
healing and liberation.

is a prison. It slams the door on new beginnings and entrenches you in
your present pain. It chains the heart and stops it from beating. It
suffocates joy and paralyzes your ability to move on. Unforgiveness is
the cancer of the soul. It slowly eats away the marrow of your existence
and impairs your judgment, your personality and your ability to love

desire to want to hurt the person who hurt you can be overwhelming. We
want them to feel the torture we think they deserve. “How can he act as
though nothing ever happened?” We ask. “It’s not fair! Where is God in
all this? Is there no justice!”

there is justice. But justice comes only after we have released our
offender into the hands of the One who is solely in the position to

God knows both sides of the story. The fears, the past wounds, the
generational conditioning, the weaknesses, the insufficiencies of
character and integrity. He knows the things that we failed to
notice—the things that should have warned us to guard our hearts.

God knows the hidden motives and unspoken regrets of the one who hurt
you—their sickness, their brokenness. The assumptions we make usually do
more damage than the truth:

“He doesn’t even notice how much he hurt me!”

“How could he be so cold?”

“How could they just ignore my cries for help and walk away?”

“Doesn’t anyone see my pain?”

imaginations can be unmerciful. Trust me, it’s never what you think.
Your guesses will always be more cruel than the reality of what really
transpired, adding unnecessary injury to insult.

must let it go. You need to forgive, not for the sake of the one who
hurt or violated you—for your own. It’s time to redirect your focus and
move on. And you won’t be able to do that if you continue to nurse and
rehearse your anger, the many wrongs done against you, all the reasons

you can’t forgive for your own sake, forgive for God’s sake. He needs
your hands open in order to bless you. Cooperate. The one who wronged
you does not deserve so much of your time, energy or attention. Your
fixation is standing in the gap between that person and God, shielding
him from conviction. Move out of the way. Free him to receive the proper
correction from God. Free yourself to receive your healing.

because you need to be forgiven. How can you expect what you are unable
to give yourself! Forgive my dear sister, because you are not alone. We
have all been prisoners of our unspoken pain and suffering. So come and
join us on the other side.

to forgive because it is what God requires of you, and it is what is
best. He will help you to forgive from your heart and not just from your
head. Ask Him for strength to release your offender, for to release him
(or her) is to release yourself.

God to free you from your anger and your pain and from all the
questions that continually assault your mind. Let Him speak words of
comfort to you and assure you that He has taken heed to the things that
have transpired. Although you may never forget what has happened, He
will enable you to forgive even as He has forgiven you.

Michelle McKinney Hammond is the author of several books on relationships. Portions of this article were adapted from her book Release the Pain, Embrace the Joy (Regal).

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