At the beginning of September, I wrote asking if readers had questions for Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, or myself. And there was, in fact, one question posed by Mark Alman (for each of us). I sent the question to Anthony, and His response (as well as mine) can be found below.
For Anthony: “I have been thinking a lot about pain recently and how pain drives us to do wrong things. I believe in my life my most egregious sins were driven by pain. I wonder if you felt that yours were as well?” – Mark
Anthony’s response: Yes, Mark. In my life, as well, my worst sin was driven by pain. Men tend to manifest hurt into anger. I think it’s programmed into us! When the Holy Spirit comes into us, we also receive His blessings, or fruit––love, peace, patience, etc––but when we get hurt and it turns into anger, anger will block out these blessings if we allow it to. I believe that’s why God’s word tells us not to let the sun set on our anger.
Anger can build, as mine did. If enough of it builds our dam of good intentions bursts. Out pours sin because we’ve lost control of the anger.
Maybe at first our sin is proportional to our pain, but in time, our sin will far outweigh our pain. A mother screams at her child, a man strikes his wife, and someone shoots another. We must submit to Jesus continually! And that doesn’t mean stuffing it down. We have to figure out what hurt us. Has our pride been hurt? With men that is usually a bit yes! Proverbs says pride goes before our downfall. I found out the hard way that’s true.
The Bible tells us to capture each thought for Christ, I say to capture each emotion for him also! Don’t allow your pain, hurt, or anger to cause you to fall––sometimes that fall can cost you everything.
For Laurie: ”In relation to Anthony’s question you seem to have responded to your pain differently and did not let your pain drive you to sin but to a wonderful redemption for someone who caused you tremendous hurt. Your response to your own pain also led to it being lessened as well it appears. Do you think first that pain leads to a lot of sin and second how should one respond to pain in their life?” – Mark
My response: Absolutely, Mark. I do believe pain leads to sin. I heard someone once say “hurting people hurt people,” and I believe this is true.
I didn’t always deal with my pain well. It took nine years for Jesus to bring me to my knees and save me (after my dad’s murder). During those nine years, the pain I held within usually manifested itself in my felt need to control anything and everything in my life, including my marriage and friendships. This led to much relational heartache. Additionally, my unresolved issues of bitterness led to quite a bit of anger. It wasn’t always displayed on the surface, but it was there, deep within, and it would rear it’s ugly head every now and again. There was a time, before God healed me, that I was very irritable and quick to anger, so my pain definitely drove my sin as well.
Then came the call to love and forgive Anthony, the man who murdered my dad. But it wasn’t just him who I needed to forgive. After some prayer, God revealed many unresolved forgiveness issues in my heart that I had to address.
After having followed Jesus down this path toward forgiveness and redemption, however, I have a new perspective on how we ought to deal with pain. But it’s never easy. Ultimately, I believe it’s extremely important to keep yourself in check. Go to God. Seek Him. Ask Him to reveal to you any unresolved pain in your heart that you need to deal with. And whatever He shows you, deal with it. Seek God more. Ask Him to guide you, showing you what you need to do to see redemption in your life and how to get there.
In my experience, this took time. It’s a process––a process only possible when we submit ourselves completely to Jesus, allowing Him to guide our every step. It seems God often shows us where He’s taking us (though only in vague concepts) but He won’t all the steps needed because He wants us to be in complete reliance upon Him and Him alone. But He will see you though, one step at a time, to the other side. In my case, I knew He was going to bring me to a place of healing and I also knew He was about to do something big, but I didn’t know what the journey would look like along the way, which for a former control freak, was difficult to swallow.
So choose to trust. Choose to seek. Choose to follow. And be prepared to be ridiculously captivated by the story God creates in your life! Blessings and prayers as each of you embark on your own story of redemption!
If there are any more questions, I’d be happy to answer them or pass them along to Anthony who is also willing to answer. If you do have a question, simply leave a comment.