“Mama, you hurt my feelings!” my seven year old told me in the midst of a melt-down while driving home the other night. She had just gotten in trouble for fighting with her sister (again) and thought that I should be nicer to her because (she argued) pulling her sisters arm nearly out of joint was an accident and her sister started it. (Said sister also got in trouble but was choosing to be stoic.)
Telling me that I have hurt her feelings has become the new “I hate you!”. Once she realized “I hate you!” had very little effect on me, she thought “you hurt my feelings” would get a more profound response from me.
Unfortunately for her, my mind was made up very early on in motherhood that my emotional well being was not tied up in whether or not my children were happy with me at any given moment. I do not believe God calls me to be responsible for my children’s happiness (nor they responsible for mine) but I am responsible for helping them navigate this world in a healthy way.
We all get our feelings hurt. I want my children to know how to deal with those hurt feelings in a way that will build up relationships instead of tearing them apart. I want them to learn to talk about their feelings and listen to others whose feelings they have hurt.
We are all disappointed in other people, in circumstances, in the fact that we cannot just wail on our sister when she makes us mad (even, as my children often argue, when it feels justified). Christ calls us to more. Christ expects more of us.
Our emotional wellbeing has to be tied up in what God wants for us. Not how we make other people feel (because, really, sometimes true love hurts feelings), not in whether others are first concerned about our feelings, but in whether we are earnestly striving to be the people God wants us to be. Most of the time, if we are honest, our feelings get hurt because someone is not coddling us, or seeing the world as we want them to see it. How many times I wonder, would Jesus have had his feelings hurt by the disciples ignorance if he were dependent on them for his happiness?
We are called to be light in the darkness. Our feelings are bound to get hurt. Our hopes are bound to be stomped on. But we do not do what we do for our own pleasure, we do it so that Christ may be lifted up, so that the kingdom of God can be built, so that love can triumph.
My seven year old doesn’t get all of that. What she does get is that her feelings of happiness, while important to me, are not the center of my existence and are not reason enough to justify causing someone else pain. One day I hope that she will see that this is not because I don’t love her but because I love her deeply.