Wounded By Friendly Fire: Forgiveness
By Dot Bowen
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Genesis 4:8 (NIV)
Chris Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with over 160 confirmed kills. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. To die from friendly fire has always been a feared reality in combat. But Kyle did not die in combat. Kyle was shot and killed while helping a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who suffered from PTSD. If you are on the front lines in a war zone, you accept the danger of being wounded by your enemy, but it’s difficult to accept when someone we love and respect wounds us.
I’ve met women who love God, pray, and seek His power in their lives, yet can’t find the joy and peace God promises because of the pain inflicted by another Christian, family member, or friend. Even though we know no one is perfect, we expect Christians, friends, and family members to treat us with love and respect. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. For the next three weeks, we’ll explore what to do when we find ourselves “wounded by friendly fire”—being hurt by those we love and trust. Being deeply hurt by the people we love requires a deeper healing.
When God created Adam and Eve, He intended them to live in unity. When they disobeyed God, everything around them changed. It’s one thing to argue over who tempted whom but another thing to experience domestic violence. After being evicted from the Garden of Eden, Eve gave birth to twin boys, Cain and Abel. I’m sure Eve realized the pain of sin during natural childbirth, but nothing can rip the heart out of a mother more than the death of a son at the hands of his brother. Abel was the first victim of domestic violence.
What do you do when the people you love and trust hurt you? It’s impossible to not be brokenhearted when the people we believe have our best interest at heart treat us unkindly. If we are to survive the wounds of friendly fire, we must choose to forgive and accept the truth that hurting people hurt people. Forgiveness does not mean it’s okay for others to hurt us, nor does it give us the right to hurt them back. It’s not our responsibility to make someone pay for the hurt they have caused us. To survive being wounded by friendly fire, we must give God our wounded heart and let Him begin the process of healing.
To find inner peace, we must let go of any bitterness we are harboring toward the person who hurt us. If we don’t choose to forgive those who hurt us, our unforgiveness will lead to bitterness. Wounds from friendly fire are not fatal, but a heart full of bitterness will kill your desire to trust again. One of the signs of an unforgiving heart is a critical spirit. If you are ever around someone who has a critical spirit, you’ll quickly discover someone or something has hurt them, and they’ve refused to forgive or accept what happened.
If we harbor bitterness, it won’t take long for us to start building walls of self-protection around our hearts and living with the determination to never to let anyone hurt us again. Walls of self-protection not only keep others out of our lives, they allow us to hide behind our self-made walls. Unfortunately, when we choose to never trust or love again, something dies in our hearts. God created us to have a relationship with Him and other people. We will never enjoy the life God intended for us if we push God and everyone else away.
Just as there is a risk of being wounded by friendly fire in combat, there is a risk of being hurt by the people we love and trust. In any relationship we risk the possibility of being hurt, but in my opinion, there are worse things than being hurt. I would rather risk being hurt than to live behind walls built by fear and surrounded by bitterness. Have you been wounded by friendly fire? If so, pray and ask God to open your eyes to the truth we will discover in the coming weeks. In the meantime, be willing to admit you have been hurt. Ask yourself if you have built walls of self-protection? Our God is a God who heals. Give your wounded heart to God, and ask Him to give you the courage to trust someone again. Healing takes time. There may be weeping in the night, but joy comes in the morning.
Further Reading Genesis 3; Genesis 4:1-15; Psalm 30:5