A note from Kelly King: Most of us live day to day with smiles on our faces. No one may know the pain you are carrying or the hurt you have either hidden deeply in your soul or a hurt that is just below the surface. I’ve lived both, and I’ve ministered to both. You most likely have as well. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta helps us all examine ways we can be sensitive to hidden hurts and always be available with a listening ear.
I’ve come to believe that everyone, and for our purposes today, every woman, is carrying a hurt, wound, or pain of some kind. Sometimes her hurt or wound is obvious and right on the surface. She is not hard to find; in fact, she will come to you. Her pain is so desperate she can no longer keep silent.
And why do we? Keep it silent that is?
There are a number of reasons why we keep our hurt hidden. One important reason is because it is hard-wired in us from the fall (of man). Passed down to us in this sin nature is the bent to hide and to blame. With that comes shame, which is the enemy’s calling card over our hurt. There are many other reasons why women hide their hurt. I invite you to take an honest look at your own ministry to hurting women for the answer(s) to the question, “Why is it women are keeping their hurts hidden?” Some answers will be consistent among all women, but others will vary based on culture, denomination, leadership style, and more. Will you prayerfully ask this helpful question, and then ruthlessly eradicate those things that keep women from telling the truth about their pain and hurt?
If it’s true that every woman is carrying a hurt, and if it’s true that our natural tendency is to keep it hidden, then how do we “go after” (in a helpful, healing sense) the woman who is hurting?
Here are some ways to help someone uncover their hidden hurts:
- Start your day by asking the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the people and pain around you.
- Ask the Spirit to tune your ears to hear His promptings for healing conversations.
- Practice the ministry of presence throughout your day, making yourself present and approachable.
- Ask helpful questions (such as, “How’s your heart?,” “Is everything OK?,” or “Would you like to connect over coffee? I’d love to hear your story.”) and then listen well and love well.
The woman with hidden hurts isn’t the one sitting in the coffee shop crying her eyes out, hence the word “hidden.” She is the one walking in your neighborhood with a smile on her face or in the cubicle next to you at work laughing.
A couple of weeks ago, a coworker texted me, “Are you around? I need someone to talk to.” It was a bit surprising because she’s never done that before. This girl is always cheery, happy, and a lot of fun to be around, so I was expecting something light and work related. I popped into her cubicle with a happy, “What’s up?” She buried her face in her hands and began to sob uncontrollably. For several minutes no words were spoken, just sobs and being present with her in her pain. After the crying subsided, I could begin to ask some helpful questions to allow her to reveal her pain and hurt in a safe way.
Here are some helpful questions and statements to start with when you find yourself in this situation:
- How can I help? (Please don’t say, “What’s wrong?”)
- I’m so sorry for your pain; tell me what’s causing your tears.
- When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen; take your time.
- Tell me your story; I have time.
If you suspect someone is hurting, but they haven’t been willing to open up yet, I encourage you to be present and be patient. She may be deciding if you’re safe and can be trusted. Once she does, be ready! Listen well and love well.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.