The four hardest words for me to speak as a man are, “You hurt my feelings.” In the first place, it’s not even manly to talk about my feelings. Who wants to hear a man whine about wounded feelings? It’s much more manly to pout. That’s what I do.
But here’s the real truth. It’s our ego that’s been hurt, not our feelings. “Feelings” are emotions. They come upon us unannounced, unfiltered, real and sometimes very raw. We feel what we feel. We don’t control what comes up in our ‘feeler’; we only control how we interpret and respond to what we feel.
I love Regi Campbell’s definition of ego. Campbell says, ego is “the combination of the person I think I am, the person I want to be, and the person I want others to think I am”. The borders between those three are blurry. I don’t know which one is running the show in my life at any given moment until I run into someone and get hurt. Retrospectively, I can probably figure it out.
When my ego gets hurt and I find myself frustrated, feeling angry, hurt, and having my personal pity party, it’s usually because one of 3 things happened…
- someone didn’t respond the way I wanted them to respond
- someone didn’t do what I wanted them to do
- someone didn’t say what I wanted them to say
Get the picture? I’ve set myself up as god, deciding what other people should think, do and say. When they let me down, I’m upset. I’m hurt…by whomever failed to meet my expectations. Plain and simple. Pure pride.
The reality is, the word ‘ego’ isn’t even in the Bible, but the word ‘pride’ is. 49 times. Pride is jacked up ego. Pride is what caused Satan to end up in hell. Pride has a role in every single misstep or sin. And pride is at the root of my “hurt feelings”.
It’s hard to see pride. Regi Campbell says “It’s like something dark hidden in the dark.” What’s the best way to find something dark hidden in the dark? Turn on a light. In this case, the light of humility. The contrast is stunning…the humble heart vs. the prideful one. When I’m courageous enough to ask myself these honest questions, “If I truly humbled myself, what would this situation look like?” “Would I feel the same way about what she said?” “Would I take what he said personally, or would I let it go?” “Do I really have the right to expect her to react the way I want her to in every situation?” “So, maybe her feelings come rushing out before she could control them. Should that make me mad?”
An authentic truthful answer is simply, “No.” If I can learn to ‘swallow my pride’, I’ll always respond differently. In humility, I can understand rather than bow up and fight back. There’s a lot of things God seems to be neutral about. But pride isn’t one of them. James 4:6 says “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” Out of everyone I’ve met in the world, the top of the list of those I don’t want “opposing” me, is God! And of all that I’ve met who I desire his favor, it’s God. Man, do I ever want his favor! Another translation of this same scripture says He “gives grace to the humble”. Grace. Undeserved blessing. To the humble. Wow.
Let me share a suggestion. Next time you get your feelings hurt, recognize it was your ego, not your feelings. Humble yourself. Instead of rehearsing the conversation you’re going to have where you express your hurt feelings, turn to your Heavenly Father and tell Him how much you love Him. How grateful you are for all He’s done for you. Notice how insignificant your ‘feelings’ become when you let His amazing love wash over you. And you will see…it wasn’t your feelings at all. It can be healed in a moment of humility and gratitude.