By: William B. Girao




Getting hurt or causing hurt to others will always be part of our lives for as long as we are in this imperfect world, living with imperfect people and with our imperfect selves. Like physical pain, having hurt feelings is in face a human protective mechanism. Quickly withdrawing our hand from a hot object because of the pain of burning saves our hand from more severe damage. Similarly, having hurt feelings is a defense mechanism to protect us from an emotionally distressing situation.

Like feeling physical pain, having hurt feelings is neither right nor wrong. We need not feel guilty when we feel hurt. Feeling hurt is just an indication of our humanity. Having hurt feelings is not sinful. It is rather what we do or not do because of our hurt that is either sinful or not sinful. What is right or wrong is how we respond to our hurt.


Hurts are inevitable.

Even the apostle Paul, the greatest leader of the Christian Church, got hurt – repeatedly.

Christ our Lord also got hurt repeatedly. When Jesus taught about sacrifice and the high cost of following Him, people began leaving Him.

We could almost feel Jesus’ deep hurt when He poignantly asked, “Do you also want to leave Me?” Even God, our heavenly Father, gets hurt. When Adam and Eve disregarded God’s instructions at the Garden of Eden

When you love, you risk getting hurt; the fuller you love, the higher the risk of deeper hurts. You could, of course, isolate yourself from hurts. If you want to avoid getting hurt, don’t ever love. Keep to yourself; live alone on top of a mountain. Do not enter into any meaningful relationship; turn your heart into stone. Stop being a human being; become a piece of wood – without love, and without hurts.

But if you wish to be human and to be in the image of God and be like Christ, then love. Love and risk getting hurt. But, thankfully, even if hurt is a necessary part of our humanity and a necessary risk from genuine loving and sincere caring for others, hurt may be minimized and managed.


A good deal of our hurts has to do with our unfulfilled expectations. We expect to be reciprocated with good for the good that we do. After we have helped a person in his time of need, we expect that person to help us when we need him. When he fails to do so, we are hurt. We are hurt when someone we love shows no utang na loob (debt of gratitude). We are hurt by ungratefulness. Teachers are hurt by ungrateful students; donors are hurt by ungrateful recipients; and parents are hurt by ungrateful children. To minimized your hurts, lower your expectations. In face, have no expectations at all. Give up even your rightful expectations. Set those that you love free- free from the law of reciprocity.


Give up your expectations for kindness being returned. Instead do everything you do for Christ and for the welfare of others in need. Do what you do simply because they are the right things to do. When you receive appreciation for what you have done, the appreciation itself becomes a cause of thanksgiving to God; a joy to accept, an unexpected benefit, a gift from God, and not a rightful return from your investment of love.


We hurt others either by what we do or by what we fail to do and by what we say or what we fail to say. But then quite often we really have no idea that we have hurt someone. The first thing to do once you become aware that you have hurt someone is to go and talk to him or her. If face-to-face talk is not possible, then write or promptly communicate in any way.

Even if what you did or said was completely innocent, recognize that the other person was hurt. Whether the hurt is justified or not, apologize nevertheless for having caused hurt. Apologize even when the hurt done was unintentional. The sooner you do this, the better and the easier it will be for you and for the one you hurt.

Explain the reasons behind what you did or did not do to the one hurt. Your explanation, however, should not include excuses for what happened or did not happen. To say, “I’m sorry. It happened because I was so tired (or: I was under much stress or I was not feeling well or I was so busy)” – is, in face, to say, “I’m sorry, but don’t blame me for what happened. It was not my fault. I accept no responsibility for the failure.” When an apology comes with excuses, there is no apology at all. Genuine apology is to clearly identify the wrong done and accept direct responsibility for what had happened.

If the hurt is justified, ask for forgiveness. Then promptly correct what may still be corrected.


If you are the one hurt, do not criticize the person who hurt you in his absence. That would be backbiting; and backbiting is wrong. Do not talk to others about the other person. That would be gossip and gossip destroys relationships. Go and talk with the person himself. Establish direct lines of communication.


In every group there will always be oversensitive, onion-skinned and constantly critical individuals. Towards them we still have to do our duty: To establish direct lines of communication and to apologize when we hurt them. But if in spite of our doing these, these critics still continue to be oversensitive and impossible to please, we then have to learn to ignore them.

“If it is possible,” the Word of God tells us, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). “If it is possible,” implies that living at peace with everyone is not always possible.

If we try to please everybody all the time we will become slaves to the tyranny of those who are impossible to please. Somehow we have to draw the line between giving necessary attention to those we have hurt and, in contrast, trying to massage the sensitive egos of the oversensitive, turning us into mere men-pleasers in the process.

Nevertheless, otherwise, we should obey what Christ our Lord commands us.


If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. – Matthew 18:15

Take note that it is the one who had been wronged who is commanded to take the initiative to inform the wrongdoer of the wrong he has done. This is necessary because, often, the wrongdoer is completely unaware that he had done wrong.

Filipino culture – and our pride – demand that the wrongdoer take the initiative for reconciliation. We say, “Siya ang may kasalanan, siya ang lumapit” (He’s the one who did me wrong, he should be the one to apologize). But Christ overrules Filipino culture in this matter.

It is the aggrieved party, not the wrongdoer, who should make the first move for reconciliation.Why? Because the wrongdoer is often unaware that he had done wrong. Moreover, Galatians 6:1 tells us that the more spiritual should help the less spiritual. And it often is the case that the wrongdoer is the less spiritual – which is precisely why he does wrong. The more mature and the more spiritual ought to take the initiative for reconciliation – promptly.


“In your anger do not sin”:Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26

You may sulk when you are hurt but don’t just sulk, go and tell the wrongdoer what he did that hurt you. Deal with hurts promptly. Do not sleep on your anger. Deal with what caused your hurt. Refuse to be among those who would stay up all night nursing hurt feelings. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Make things right quickly. Do not allow hurts to pile up before you deal with them. Keep short accounts. If you felt humiliated by what someone said, let him know about your disapproval of what he did but don’t rebuke the person on the spot and in public. Matthew 18:15 requires that the rebuke be first done in private, just between you and the wrongdoer. You may leave a note for him or phone him once you get home. Communicate promptly and privately. More importantly, what had been dealt with should be forgiven and forgotten – not stored as ammunition for future encounters.

When you allow a hurt to fester, you soon turn it into anger. When you allow anger to fester, you turn it into resentment. Resentment then becomes bitterness and bitterness turns into hate – hate of the one who hurt you.

Hurt feelings can also destroy you. When you allow hurt feelings to fester, that hurt soon becomes self-pity. When you do not deal with the self-pity, it soon turns into feelings of worthlessness. Feelings of worthlessness produce low self-esteem; low self-esteem becomes lack of self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence leads t hate – hate of yourself. Hurt feelings can turn into hate so they should be dealt with, but how?



Our concern is not that we will never be hurt but rather, we do not do wrong when we are hurt. It is when we retaliate because we feel hurt that we do wrong. “Never take revenge,” God’s Word commands (Romans 12:19). When we cut communication with the one who has hurt us, we do not banish the hurt; we only allow the hurt to fester.

Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

If someone hurt your feelings, go and tell him but do so tactfully and sensitively. Use only words that build up, not destroy.

Do not use harmful words but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. – Ephesians 4:29TEV

Criticize sparingly but compliment lavishly. Compliment in public, criticize in private. Some say that since we Christians are one big family, then we ought to be able to give criticism and welcome criticism any time. On the contrary, we must exercise tact and sensitivity and wait for the right time to criticize. Even in the family, we do not, and ought not criticize freely any time.

Criticism – even if valid – done at the wrong time is tactless and does more harm than good. Criticizing someone sick or hungry or already discouraged or undergoing crisis is insensitive and not helpful.

Compliments are welcome and needed especially immediately after something good has been done. On the other hand, criticism has to wait until after the person to be criticized has rested, eaten and slept. Responsible criticism, moreover, requires that it be accompanied by a well-thought-out suggestion on what should be done next time to remedy, improve or avoid what is being criticized.

Direct person-to person communication is crucial in solving relationship problems. Go to the person who had hurt you but do so first only in private with just you and him. Communicate your disapproval of what the other had done, not your annoyance with the person who did it. Say, “I was hurt by what you said about me in our meeting this morning,” not, “I don’t like you! You’re always rude and disrespectful!”

Your concern in your first meeting with the offender is simply to make him aware of the wrong he had done. If he accepts his fault and sincerely apologizes, then the matter is resolved. If he refuses to do so, then, the intervention of the Christian fellowship will be needed. Or you could leave the matter in God’s hand and continue on living a life of personal integrity (Romans 12:18).

There are occasions when genuine love dictates that we refrain from directly confronting an offender. We have to discern that there are some among us who have gone through much traumatic experiences. For them direct criticism may be an emotional overload that they may not be able to handle. Your openly expressing your hurt could become the final straw that could break him. When a person is emotionally devastated, great will your responsibility be to our compassionate God. You have refused to be compassionate in refusing to be denied your right to directly express your hurt even to a brother already hurting.

Christ-like love sometime demands that we refrain from directly airing some of our hurts. But those hurts that you could not directly express, you may then bring to the Lord in prayer. We will have to trust the Holy Spirit to heal our hurts, even when at times we could not, out of Christian love, directly express our hurt to the one who hurt us. Some hurts may not be directly expressed to the person who hurt us. These may, however be freely brought to God in prayer.



We offend others often because of our insensitivity to local culture. Take the case of language. We Visayans offend elderly Tagalogs because we have not been taught to properly say “ho” or “po” after every other sentence.

Then there is the use of names. We offend others when we do not address them properly.

To minimize causing hurt to others, we should observe politeness in the context of the local culture.



The best way to avoid or minimize causing hurt to others is to practice genuine Christ-like love.

How then do we deal with hurt feelings? Take the initiative for reconciliation, deal with hurt feelings promptly, and lower your expectations for reciprocated goodness. If possible, be at peace with everyone, without becoming enslaved to the tyranny of the oversensitive. If you have to criticize, do so tactfully, privately, humbly and sensitively. Carefully observe local culture and its nuances. And above all things, practice genuine Christ-like love.

Hurt feelings are inevitable. Thankfully, they need not be debilitating. By God’s grace, they could be overcome.