I recently heard a conversation where a person was speaking about their fear in trusting a new friendship because of having been burned in a past friendship. This is a conversation that most of us can certainly understand and may have even had ourselves.
People have burned us, and we have likely burned some people ourselves, at the least, without knowing or intending to do so.
So, what do you do when you get burned? Everyone get’s burned, but not everyone handles it well.
Here are some tips…
1) Focus on Managing Yourself and Who You Become
When people burn us our emotions are injected with adrenaline and we usually have an impulse to react in some fashion or another. The greatest temptation that comes from being burned is to loose your sense of identity as a complete, whole, loved, and valuable person. Being burned has a way of surfacing our insecurities and fears hoping that we will conclude, “Something is wrong or lacking with me.” That’s why the most important thing when you are burned isn’t in what you do, it’s in managing who you are and who you become. It is out of your sense of self that every other emotion and action flows.
The most important thing when in the midst of a relational conflict is in how you manage yourself… emotions, identity, and actions. Who we are in the face of being burned will determine who you become and maybe even what becomes of the situation. Spend less time thinking about how to react, what to say, and what to do next, and much more time on centering yourself on your faith in who you are in Christ, your righteousness, wholeness, and position in Him. If you will focus on your faith in who you are in Christ, your emotions and actions will take care of themselves.
Like the burning bush in the story of Moses, in Christ, we can become people who, though burned by others and circumstances, we are not consumed by others or circumstances. Managing who you are in the midst of being burned will ensure that no person or thing can steal your joy, peace, identity, and integrity. No person or thing is worth that.
Learn what you need to learn about mistakes that you may or may not have made, but don’t base your identity on them or your worthiness of having peace and joy in your life.
2) Move On, not Backward
When people burn us, the situation will likely need to be addressed in some fashion or another. Keeping your peace, joy, identity, and integrity will ensure you handle things well. Yet, at some point, there will be a time to move forward. Bitterness, anger, jealousy, frustration, and alike will need to reach their expiration date.
When people burn us, the second temptation (loosing you sense of self being the first) is to lose your willingness to trust in people and/or a better future. Forgiveness does not mean restoration, so automatically re-trusting the person or circumstance that burned you is not something God is pushing you to do. In fact, that could be a significant move backwards, not forwards. Yet, creating huge barriers around your heart and life that no person or circumstance can penetrate is not moving forward either.
Perhaps what is needed to avoid being burned again is to move slower, listen more to your discernment, set better boundaries, or not let your insecurities get the best of you and cause you to rush into things too soon. Perhaps you would benefit from some Christian counseling to help you navigate things better in the future and identify current blindspots and patterns. Not learning from whatever happened would be a huge step backwards. Yet, not having hope in the future and a desire to position yourself to trust and believe again is not moving forward either.
Don’t let people or circumstances steal your desire to love and live. God has promises over your life that you need to live out. Be who you are and live the life you are meant to live. Never let being burned by others consume your passion and potential. Shake off your shoes, learn, and move forward.
God isn’t going to use the people who burned you in the past to water your future. If they aren’t with you, then certainly don’t try to drag them along and keep them in your life. Emotionally release them from your being and move forward.
3) Find Relational Rest
Faith is the foundation of relationships. And by faith, I mean your faith in Christ and His work in your life. Believing in who you are in Christ is the key to relational rest. When you have relational rest, you aren’t running around trying to attract people and opportunities into your life. Rather, you are trusting God and resting assured that the people and opportunities that need to be in your life, God will bring into your life. You don’t need a person or opportunity to prop you up or complete you, you are already complete and standing tall in who you are in Christ. You see yourself as one who reigns in life, not one who requires relationships to feed and sustain them.
Relational rest allows you to be who you are in Christ without fear. Insecurities are pushed aside and Christ-security is moved center stage. You can truly love without losing yourself and sucking the life out of others. Love becomes much more about giving to another and much less about getting something for you. When people or circumstances burn you, God’s grace for your life, His identity in you, and the promises He has over your life quickly dampen the hurt, frustration, bitterness, and injury. Indeed, you can truly rest in your relationships knowing who you are, who God is, and His promise over your life are firmly and eternally established. You may get a bit stirred, but you are never shaken.
The more you place your faith in who you are in Christ, His Grace, and promise over your life, people and opportunity will come running to you. You attract in others and in life what you believe about yourself. People will be attracted to the Christ in you when you believe in the Christ in you. They will come looking for grace, when you believe in His Grace. Believe in the best of Christ in you to attract the best of others to you.
It’s hard to rest when you have been sunburned, it’s harder to relationally rest when you have been people burned. Turn to Christ, and who you are in Him and you will find rest. Trust me, it works. Better yet, trust Him and His work in you!