Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

—Ephesians 4:32 (NRSV) 

Growing up I had a challenging relationship with my father. Though I knew he loved me, he often hurt my feelings by the things he said to me or the way he said them. I grew up thinking all sorts of negative things about myself that simply were not true.

As I grew older, God helped me to see that I was focusing on myself and my own hurt and not seeing the bigger picture. I realized that Dad’s words were not always a result of my actions or presence but were more often a reflection of his own childhood trauma, fear, and brokenness. One day, he belittled me in front of my daughter. God softened my heart to say, “Dad, why did you say that?” He said, “When it’s time for our visit to end, I feel hurt—but I shouldn’t take it out on you.” I realized then that he simply didn’t know what to do with the pain he was feeling.

I wondered how many times I too had lashed out at others, or even God, out of fear or pain. I am grateful now that God has freed me from the pain of emotional abuse. Now, when someone speaks to me in an unkind way, I am better able to be tenderhearted and not take it personally. Knowing that God loves and affirms me, I can regard others—and myself—with compassion.

Prayer—Father God, help us to see the confusion, hurt, or anger of others and to offer love where there is insult. Amen.

Thought for the Day—Today I will offer God’s love in places of pain.

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