Loving and Being Loved When You’ve Been Hurt

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We are sitting in a living room with robin’s egg walls, a lovely fragile color, and clean white trim. She asks it tentatively, as if throwing a pebble at a window. She doesn’t want to break anything. She just needs to release this question into the universe. “What if allowing yourself to be loved means being loved by someone who has hurt you?”

This is Suzie Eller talking, a brave woman who serves and speaks and writes. Jennifer Watson and I are with her and in front of us is a camera that’s rolling, rolling. We are live and the whole world is watching (or so it seems).

I pause for a moment, feel the weight of this question. We have been talking about how and why letting love in can be so hard. About how it seems we can all be in the business of construction with our hard hats or hard hearts. We know how to build walls. But, really, this is not what any of us want.

I say slowly as it comes to me like the slow light of sun over the horizon, “I think it’s about having a gate in the wall.” We don’t shut ourselves completely off but we don’t leave ourselves wide open either. This is the paradox of what it means to “above all else guard your heart” (Prov. 4:23) and at the same time follow the example of a Savior who stretched wide on a cross.

This gate swings both ways and we can lock it from the inside too. Through perfectionism or people-pleasing, legalism and trying so very hard. We turn the key and toss it over our shoulder. We tell ourselves we’ll dig it out of the dirt when we are finally worthy.

Or we bar the gate from the outside, too tired of all the broken people who scratch our souls with their sharp edges. We retreat to where it is pristine and safe, bubble wrap over everything and then wonder why we feel all alone. It’s learning to live without either extreme that is so hard.

If I had a security screener, like the ones at the airport, it would look like 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, protects, hopes, trusts and perseveres.

When we are deciding whether or not to open the gate we can evaluate, “What is the pattern of this person’s life?” If the answer aligns with 1 Corinthians 13 then it’s likely safe to let them through. But if the pattern sets off the alarms then it’s okay to be cautious. This doesn’t mean we don’t love that person; it simply means we don’t have to give them an all-access pass to our hearts.

And here’s a check for us too: Are we safe for others? Yes, even the relationships we value most will sometimes have disagreements and misunderstandings. But overall the pattern is to be love as God defines it.

Our time on video draws to a close and we offer this final thought: Let’s pause for a moment and ask God what’s going on with our “gate.” If it’s locked from the inside then let’s dare to allow ourselves to be loved as we are. If it’s barred from the outside then we can ask Him about the next step in the healing process.

Whatever is going on with our “gate” right now Jesus loves us and He wants to be with us where we are, as we are, today.

You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be PerfectXOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. If you’d like more encouragement and practical insights about loving and being loved then You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect will help. {This lovely photo was taken by the Nester.}


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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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