The pain seemed unbearable to me. I cannot recall a time where I felt more isolated or more alone. The darkness of the rural road coupled with the reflection of the oncoming headlights, made the situation seem somewhat surreal…trance-like…almost dreamlike. I was wishing…I was hoping it was just a dream…just a terrible nightmare, and any second I would wake up, relieved. But, no amount of pretending was going to make this pain go away. Part of me wanted to just pull into oncoming traffic…one jerk of the wheel and in an instant…no more hurt…no more heartache…situation solved. Well, I had enough presence of mind to know that suicide was no solution…it was stupid…it was selfish and cowardly; my pain did not justify inflicting pain on others.
It was a feeling of betrayal that pushed me into this pit of despair. She and I had made promises…said vows before God and man. We had promised to love, honor and cherish one another, in sickness and in health, until death did we part. The gossip around town said she had found someone else. She betrayed me…she broke our promises…she walked away from her vows…she walked out on me. Proverbs 18:14 reads, “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit, who can bear?.” I don’t think anything can crush a person’s spirit more than a sense of betrayal. Betrayal will suck the wind right out of a person’s sails; it will sap any reserve of strength and cause one to lose heart.
I spent the next several months of my life running away from my pain. I earned a fairly good salary at that time for a young man of my age, but almost every cent went into self medicating…and that medication…that booze…was just making my life more of a mess. My life was falling apart all around, but the alcohol afforded me the luxury of not seeing it. I had hit bottom, but I kept trying to convince myself that bottom was where I wanted to be. I was sharing a shabby, one bedroom, single-wide mobile home with two other guys. Sharing is an overstatement, because I was paying rent to sleep on the floor of my buddy’s closet. I kept telling myself that this was the good life. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted… but, I was anything but free.
One night, all the pain and purposelessness came to a head. I don’t remember what set it off; don’t remember what got the conversation started, but it got ugly… quick. My roommates and I were on our way home from a bar and we got into an argument. During the yelling, the screaming, the flying accusations…one of my trailer mates pointed out one of my character flaws. I don’t remember what he said, but it cut me to the core and for a moment, I was confronted with the truth about myself. The anger welled up inside of me. I felt so powerless, so out of control. So I took control in the only way I knew how…I exercised power in the only way I could…I raged on him. I unloaded on him with a barrage of punches…I hit and I hit and I hit…I unleashed all my pain on him. My anger was so intense, my blood pressure was so high, the rage caused my nose to bleed and I was never hit once.
Lucky for my friend, I was so inebriated, that most of my punches missed their target. But still, it was a sick and sobering moment. I was left with the realization that I was capable of inflicting horrific abuse on someone else. In retrospect, it gives me a deeper understanding of why those who are abused, often become abusers. Looking back, I understand that if we do not resolve the pain of our past…if we do not deal with it in God’s way…we will still deal with it. And, unfortunatley, the way we often deal with it, may include pouring out our pain on others.
Unresolved hurt may leave us feeling powerless and hopeless. But know this, if we find ourselves in a painful personal Hell, we are not helpless. In Rev. 3:20 Jesus says, "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and you open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends." (NLT) There is also a complementary verse in Psalm 23 that helps give us a clearer understanding of Jesus’ invitation. Psalm 23:1 and 5 read-“The Lord is my shepherd…He prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies." (NLT) Let me give a personal paraphrase of this pair of verses… God is relentlessly and persistently trying to get this message across to us: The pain of your past and the wrong way that you have dealt with it, may make you feel worthless. But you are not worthless, you are of incomprehensible value. If fact you are worth a Son, my Son, and my Son is priceless. His death guaranteed payment for the penalty of your sin. His resurrection guarantees for you the prospect of a new life. My Son is calling to you now. He is saying, I don’t want you to be scared. Stop looking at what is plaguing and tormenting you. Look at me, I am knocking on the door of your heart, because I am continually setting a table to dine with you. If you will sit down and feed on my truth, over time, your past and your pain will be replaced with purpose and promise.
Salvation is something that a lot of folks don’t understand. It is much more than saying a prayer and getting pie in the sky when you die. Salvation encompasses our past, our present, and our future. We are not just saved from the penalty of sin and saved to a promising future in heaven. The word salvation from the word ‘soteria’ in the Greek language, also has the meaning of health ̶ health for today…health for the day to day stuff we deal with. The relationship, the interaction, the dining on God’s truth, heals us and makes us whole.
Are you ready to deal with your pain God’s way? Will you let Jesus the Christ help you confront it? If not, are you prepared to live with yourself, knowing that you will probably pour your pain out on others? He’s knocking…he’s setting the table…He’s sitting down…He’s waiting...