I remember feeling my smile was frozen on my face. I remember acting like everything was fine. But as soon as I was alone, I cried.
Someone had said something about me that seemed unkind, unfair, and untrue, and I felt deeply hurt. In the middle of those tears, I began to think of a little chant we kids would yell when someone called us a name we didn't like. It ended with "but words can never hurt me!" Somehow, the thought of marching back into the room and calling this out seemed so funny to me that I started to laugh. And then I didn't have that sad, angry cloud of hurt feelings anymore.
Once a king named Darius set up his government with certain key men running different parts of it. One of them was named Daniel. Then the other men became jealous of Daniel's success and tried to find a way to get him in trouble. But they couldn't find any way except to create a law that would deprive him of praying to God, which was the most important thing to Daniel.
Well, Daniel continued to pray to God in spite of the law, and then Darius enforced the law and threw Daniel to a bunch of lions. But the king was sad about having to do this, because he liked Daniel. The next morning the king rushed to the lions' den. He called out to see if Daniel was safe.
Daniel answered that he was when he said, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me" (Dan. 6:22). Daniel showed he couldn't be punished or hurt for doing what was right. In this story, the devious words of the men accusing Daniel not only didn't hurt his feelings but also couldn't cause him to suffer a single scratch from those lions.
That story in the Bible doesn't say what Daniel was thinking when he was thrown to the lions, but if you were in his sandals, would you be upset to have to face a group of man-eating animals? I think I would have had a lot of trouble not being angry at the men responsible for my plight. An artist once made a picture of how he imagined Daniel looked in the lions' den. In it, Daniel has his back to the lions. He doesn't look scared or angry. In fact he looks calm, as if he's been praying. That's the way I like to think of him.
A friend once pointed out to me that hurt feelings sometimes make people think it's OK to be angry. She called these feelings of justified anger "hurtred." But she said, "Hurtred is no different than hatred, because anything that isn't love is a form of hate."
"But, but, but ..." my sense of reaction cries out, "it does hurt when they say unkind things."
And yet, as I look at how Christ Jesus acted in his life (which is an example for me in living my own), I see he had patience with people who wrongly accused him of all kinds of things. And I realize I can challenge my urge to react to words that seem to hurt me.
The Christian Science textbook helps me when it says: "If selfishness has given place to kindness, we shall regard our neighbor unselfishly, and bless them that curse us; but we shall never meet this great duty simply by asking that it may be done.... Consistent prayer is the desire to do right" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 9).
We are often given the opportunity to face the lions in our dens of human reaction. Having hurt feelings is not the solution. Like Daniel, we can turn our back on angry, hurt thoughts and look to God in prayer. What is true about God's nature is true about you and me. What is not true about Him is not true about us. God is good and we reflect His goodness. God is Love and we reflect His loving nature. What God knows about you and me is all that can be known.
What is our good God knowing? Nasty thoughts? Bad pictures of you or me? No way! God knows He made us wonderful and perfect, even special - because He made us in His image and likeness! His love is so total that it can and will wash away all hurtred and leave us with a stronger view of who we really are.
* You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.