I think it starts young. Time after time, people let us down. Or they are mean on purpose. It tears our hearts apart. The most common defense we have is anger. We retaliate so the hurt will stop. Or we can exact revenge. Soon, we go from hurt to anger so fast we don't even register the hurt anymore.
I think that's unwise. To remind ourselves why we are angry can help diffuse the situation very quickly:
No, I am not angry. I am hurt. You hurt my feelings. You have chipped away a little bit of the trust that I had in you. And I am sad. And nervous that you will hurt me again. Don't do this again!
I think this conversation goes on in our heads/hearts without us realizing it. Especially after many years of difficult relationships or as we are disappointed by the people around us. As kids. As adults. It doesn't stop. And the anger becomes automatic. The anger becomes the first response, not the second.
But I think we need to acknowledge the hurt before the anger. I think we need to be honest with ourselves. And the person we are interacting with. Many people are okay with angering someone. They are taken aback when they have hurt someone. Anger implies strength. Hurt implies weakness. In all honesty, I think it takes a stronger person to admit hurt.
It is a hard habit to start. We have spent so many years ignoring the hurt and jumping right to anger. If we can slow down, analyze our feelings, realize we have been hurt, and confess that to the person that hurt us, it will slow down the escalation of many fights/discussions/debates...whatever we choose to call it.
I have read many bad romance novels and quotes about how true love doesn't hurt. It even says that in the Bible:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
But the kind of love the Bible is talking about is perfect Love. And we, as broken sinners, cannot give that kind of love. Not yet. We can continually strive towards sanctification, to be more like Jesus, so that we can offer a better love. But we won't reach this level of purity until we attain our perfect bodies in heaven.
So we have responsibilities on both ends of a confrontation. One person is to love as well as he can, striving to honor and protect the other. The offended person needs to analyze why he is offended, and keep himself from retaliating in unrighteous anger. The naming of our hurt will cause quicker reconciliation than the defense of our anger.
The question becomes this: Do I want to be right? Or do I want to win?
It is an issue I struggle with every time.