I’ve always been a thinker, and I’ve always done a lot of my thinking at night.
One evening, as I was lying in bed with my thoughts swirling in wild patterns, my mind went to a situation that had happened during the day. More specifically, to a comment someone had made about my language skills or apparent lack of them.
I tried to block out the memory, but it was too late. Immediately, memory followed memory, and suddenly I was 14-year-old me, hearing someone tell me about a girl who could switch between all the pronunciations of the “r.” And about how I couldn’t.
The hurt of the comment clutched me.
I sat up. “This is ridiculous, Sarah,” I told myself. “He said that years ago. Why are you still holding onto it?”
Holding Onto Hurt
Everyone deals with hurt, and TCKs are no exception.
Insecurity and vulnerability go hand in hand. People can hurt us most in the areas we are least secure about.
For many TCKs, those struggles can involve identity, home, or language. They do for me. Instead of storing these things up inside, we have to face them, deal with them, and intentionally bring them to God.
These can be big things, and they are often not solved “quick and easy.” And then there are the little things, such as a thoughtless comment about the pronunciation of the “r” that hits us where we are most vulnerable. It hurts us, despite not being a big deal. And that is the hurt we unnecessarily hold onto.
1. Forgive and Let Go
Staring into the dark room, I realised a part of me simply didn’t want to forgive and forget. A part of me didn’t want to let it go. A part of me clung to these things, dug them up from deep inside, and pulled them out over and over again.
But I also realised at that moment that the one who was missing out by not releasing it was me. I was the one who was missing out on the joy and peace that forgiveness gives.
In order to change, I had to choose to let the hurt go. Keeping it clasped in my fist (and heart) wasn’t helping anyone, least of all me.
As a citizen of heaven, it is my responsibility to forgive either way, as Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (ESV). Forgiving others is extending God’s arm of grace and mercy. As forgiven people, we now have the power and responsibility to forgive.
That night, in my dark room, I intentionally spoke the freeing words over the situation with the “r.”
“Jesus, help me,” I whispered. “I choose to let this go.”
2. Check Your Own Heart
We can never know for sure with what intention and heart motive people say things. But we can assume. I have definitely gone down the road of assuming that the other person wanted to hurt me with their words.
Perhaps they did. But perhaps they didn’t. When we are wronged, we have to forgive. But sometimes, instead of forgiving something that doesn’t have to be forgiven, we have to check our own hearts instead.
Oftentimes, we can blow up a problem (and even hurt the other person!) by pointing our finger at the apparent wrong someone did to us, rather than assuming the better or showing grace.
Instead of making a judgement based on what I perceive to be true, I need to realise that there are situations in which only God knows the person’s true motive. Regardless of whether their motive was good or bad, I must show that person love.
It is my responsibility first and foremost to love. Love, in the biblical sense, “always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” and most certainly doesn’t keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5–6 NIV).
Approaching others with the love God gives me means first checking my own heart and asking if I am making false accusations or assumptions.
3. Be Extra Thoughtful About What You Say to Others
Let’s assume that most people, whose comments I have carried around, didn’t intentionally want to hurt me. This can and should make me aware of how quickly I could hurt someone with my words when I speak without care and thought.
Whenever anyone does anything to us which hurts us, we have a choice: We can choose to do the very same to the next person we see, or we can choose to do the opposite, which is what glorifies God. We can take our experiences of hurtful comments as a reminder that words are powerful and can make a big difference – they can build up or tear down.
God has high standards for our words. Words matter to Him because He knows their power. In Matthew 12:36, Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (ESV).
As God’s children, we are to bring good fruit (see Matt. 12:33–37), and that includes the words we say.
Whenever I think of the things people have said in passing that I ended up carrying around for a long time, I am reminded to be extra thoughtful and careful in what I say to others. I can’t 100% prevent unintentional hurt from happening, but with God’s help, I can try. And I should.
What it comes down to is this: You have a choice. You can choose to hold onto hurtful things people have said, or you can choose to let them go.
You can choose to assume the worst, or you can choose to leave it in God’s hands and believe the better.
As a child of God, you have been forgiven and therefore you can choose to forgive, independent of feelings or circumstances. Christ gives us the power to forgive.
And, you can choose to use these experiences as a warning to yourself to not to do the same to others.
Next time you realise that you are holding onto a hurtful comment someone made to you either recently or a long time ago, intentionally face it, knowing you have a choice and a responsibility to represent God here on earth.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Email Manager
is an MCK from Europe who is fluent in both English and German. She has cried many tears over the question of home, mother tongue, and identity, and wants to use these experiences to encourage others. Aside from writing, she loves reading, butterflies, and sunsets. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. You can connect with her at Truth & Hope.