Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Seven

The Reason to Heal)

In my last post I pointed out that many of our emotions are regulated by our subconscious mind, meaning that a spouse who has been hurt by her addict-husband’s behavior might have sudden bursts of tremendous anger, which unbeknownst to her is actually covering up the intense grief brimming just beneath the surface.

I’ve already mentioned that anger is often a secondary emotion, used to mask our fears or pain. Since anger is the side that gets presented publicly, it is what people typically address when interacting with us, either by appeasing to, or reasoning with, or arguing against it. But since the anger isn’t the real underlying issue, anything addressed towards it isn’t actually going to help. Interfacing with a wounded wife’s anger does nothing to help her grow past it.

Now an injured wife might feel upset at the notion that she needs to grow past her anger. She might say that her husband is deserving of her anger, that his actions have natural consequences. And while this is true, the reason for a wife to deal with her underlying issues is for her own sake, not her husband’s. Even if she has no intention to restore her relationship with her husband, it is still to her own benefit that she get past her mask of anger and process the pain hiding underneath.

Even if a wife felt like her husband needed to be punished for what he had done, it is a terrible fate to take upon oneself the role of executor. Staying in a place of rage only makes the wife a continual prisoner to the pain that her husband inflicted upon her. Shouting and berating might feel like she is claiming control of the situation, but needing to do these things only reveals that the wife still lives under the power of her addict-husband’s choices.

Just as surely as the addict needs to become free of his addiction, his spouse needs to be made free of his addiction also. They each have their own work to do here.

Doing Your Own Work)

It is inevitable that the path of healing for both spouses will involve one another. Even if they decide to go their separate ways, they each must resolve the idea of the other person in their mind. The addict must come to terms with the loved one he has hurt. The spouse must come to terms with the loved one that hurt her.

Some of this work can be done together with late-night conversations and couple’s therapy sessions, but much of this work is going to be individual. In fact, a key step in the recovery journey is for both parties to stop trying to manage the journey of the other. The husband needs to not set a timeline for his wife to stop hurting, and the wife needs to stop evaluating whether her husband is recovering in the “right” way. Obviously each needs to be active and sincere in their work and needs to seek out the best resources that they can, but so long as their efforts are genuine they should be trusted to progress at their own pace.

For my wife and I this meant meeting with our own therapists and working our own professional recovery program. It meant having our own homework, meeting with our own groups, and making our own plans of action. We would talk to each other about all the things we needed to talk about, we would update one another on our journey, but we each found healing in our own way and in our own time. After we had each come to a healthier, truer place, we were able to come together and decide what the relationship would be moving forward.

Of course, what I’m describing is not necessarily the process by which every marriage will be saved. There are couples who did their work and still decided that they didn’t have a future together, but they were able to part ways as whole individuals. And that is what this is really about, doing the work to process your own issues and make yourself whole, and that is prerequisite to having a meaningful life, whether together or apart. This process isn’t guaranteed to make your marriage whole, though it is the only way that your marriage even stands a chance.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Six

The Wall)

In my last post I discussed the fact that we tend to mask our hurt and pain with anger. The spouse of an addict, for example, is going through incredible trauma, but she is also in close proximity to the very person who caused that trauma in the first place. It’s completely understandable that she’s wouldn’t feel safe breaking down and crying in front of the same person that made her cry. So instead she builds a wall of anger.

Something that every addict would do well to remembers is that the incredible height and width of his wife’s wall of anger is a testament to how massive the reservoir of grief being held behind it is. The more anger she is showing, the more hurt she is hiding. It is worth asking yourself whether you have truly allowed yourself to empathize with that magnitude of her pain.

Of course, whether you have direct access to empathize with that pain is entirely up to her. You can try to imagine that pain, but it would be far better if she could explain it to you. She may not be ready to do that yet, and one of the chief reasons why she may not be able to do that is because she has no idea that this is even going on.

The Unknown Self)

Something that we often forget is just how little consciousness we have of our own self. We assume that our conscious mind captures everything about ourselves, but this is demonstrably false. We have no control of our own beating heart, our own digestion, or our own body temperature. We can examine and measure each of these from an external perspective, but we cannot in our own mind observe the signals that we send to regulate each of these complex behaviors. These instructions and processes are unquestionably a very real part of ourselves, and yet we have no conscious knowledge of them.

The same is true of our reflexes. We do not have to consciously think through the process of withdrawing our hand from heat or throwing it out to catch us when we fall. Clearly there are mental processes and calculations behind these movements, but they occur in the subconscious. If asked how we knew how to move our hand we can give no intelligent answer.

And what does all of this have to do with the trauma suffered by the spouse of an addict? Well, the subconscious mind also reigns over our emotions. The spouse is most probably not even making a conscious decision to hide her hurt and respond in rage. She, herself, can be totally ignorant that this is the reason behind her aggressive behavior. If you ask her why she is screaming at you she probably isn’t going to say “because I am very close to revealing my overwhelming grief, and I don’t trust you enough to do that, so I’m going to shout to cover that all up instead!” She isn’t going to say that because all of that rationalization happened in her head reflexively without her ever observing its occurrence. All she knows is the minimal and direct output of all that subconscious calculation, which is to express anger.

Sometimes, though, in the midst of carrying out a subconscious reflex we can become aware of it happening and then override it with a conscious decision. After dropping a knife we might instinctively move to grab it, but if our conscious mind is quick, it might be able to halt that action so we don’t end up cutting ourselves. We can learn to externally monitor our reflexes and impose our higher reasoning upon them.

Similarly, it is possible to gradually become aware of our emotional reflexive actions after they have already begun, and then make a conscious choice to override them. With guidance and practice, the spouse can learn to understand her own self and process all the complex things that she is feeling.

Both she and her husband have to understand that this is a journey, though. Just as he is learning the subconscious processes that kick off his destructive behavior after encountering an addiction-trigger, she must learn the subconscious processes that kick off her rage after encountering grief. They both need to do this work, because they both need to have a greater awareness of truth and self if they are ever to find healing.

It’s hard work, and particularly for the wife it might seem to be unfair work, but there’s no going around it, under it, or over it. If you want to be happy and healthy as an individual, let alone as a couple, you have to go through it.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Five

Why the Abuse?)

Yesterday I examined the situation of an addict and his spouse when she is abusing him for his wrongs. To be clear, I am not saying that all forms of anger are inherently abusive, at times anger is the right and proper reaction to a situation. But it absolutely possible for the wife to go off the deep end as well. This is never okay, and an addict in this situation should look to remove himself from such a situation. He shouldn’t fight back in kind, he should just get away to a place where he can be safe.

But it is worth considering, why is the wife behaving like this? From name calling to throwing plates, why does she feel like she has to explode in rage? She might have been a gentle, peaceful person up until this moment, so clearly she isn’t fundamentally hateful. What has possessed her, then, to be like this now?

We’ll spend the rest of today exploring those questions, but the short answer is this: the wife is showing outbursts of rage because she is terrified of showing her husband her inner suffering. Behind all that rage is a terrible, terrible sadness.

Secondary Emotions)

Psychology is the study of mental behavior and processes. It takes all of the outer attitudes that we exhibit and seeks to understand what happened inside of us to prompt those reactions. Many of us live our entire lives not even considering our emotional reactions, assuming that they are self-explanatory, but the reality is far more complex.

One concept that is discussed in psychology is that of “secondary emotions.” The idea here is that sometimes an inner, core emotion gets wrapped with a secondary, outer one. A common example of this is anger as a secondary emotion to fear. It is quite common for us to react with hostility to something that has scared us, and this behavior makes sense when it comes to dangers in nature. If we were to cross paths with a wild animal we would feel terrified, but rather than show that fear we might scream and throw rocks at it to chase it off.

But this same instinct applies to non-life-threatening social interactions as well. I’m sure we have all seen a person that has an angry outburst at a seemingly innocuous statement or question. Asking a friend what test score he got might get in a sharp response if he is insecure about his intelligence. Expressing a personal opinion on “rape culture” might elicit a tirade from your partner if your words have triggered a painful memory. Asking your boss to clarify his instructions might call down a strong reprimand if he is afraid of being seen as a poor leader. On the outside we’re seeing the anger, but inside is all manner of pain and fear.

These angry outbursts are therefore a self-defense mechanism, a warning that people should back off from a tender area. It’s very similar to the rattling of a snake’s tail or the baring of a lion’s teeth. Unfortunately, most of us employ this angry warning technique to our own detriment, using them as a way to avoid our problems rather than dealing with them. At some point in our lives we do need to have these defenses challenged, but probably not by someone who is ignorant and insensitive about what is happening inside.

The Hurt Behind the Anger)

And this is the important thing to understand when your wife comes at you with an angry tirade. Most likely, all her cutting, insulting remarks are a mask over the real issue. Her primary emotion is one of intense hurt and grief, but she doesn’t feel safe showing that to you. She doesn’t feel safe because that is a very intimate, very vulnerable part of her, and your actions have communicated to her that you are not a safe person to expose that side to. So when she feels the sadness overflowing and starting to spill over she instead surges out in anger, trying to shield you from seeing the brokenness that almost got out.

I’m not going to say that it’s okay for her to abuse you just to hide her hurt, but we must appreciate the fact that she probably doesn’t even know what else to do. She is trapped in a no-win situation. You, as the addict, have proven that you cannot be trusted with the most intimate parts of her soul, but those parts are bleeding out of open wounds. What exactly is she supposed to do with that?

Well, we’ll talk about what she is supposed to do with that in the following posts, but just for today I wanted to give proper appreciation for the reality of what the spouse is going through. It is in our nature to view those who are overly angry in a disdainful way, but in many cases they are the people most deserving of our pity.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Four

Constructive Criticism)

All of us need constructive criticism in our lives. We all have blind spots around our personal flaws. An outside perspective helps to bring our subconscious attitudes in check and helps to mold ourselves into the best version of ourselves that we can be.

But not all criticism is “constructive” criticism. Indeed, a much of the critique that we receive tends to be of the “destructive” variety, specifically intended to tear us down. It’s end goal is to make us fit another person’s flawed desires, or simply to make us hurt. This sort of criticism has no value to us, and we would do well to distance ourselves from it.

Further complicating matters, though, is the fact that there is also “mixed” criticism. This is criticism that really does have a good point, a revelation about ourselves that we would benefit from learning, but the speaker of this criticism has impure intentions. What they’re saying is right, but they’re saying it with the intention of hurting us.

Allowing another person to mistreat you isn’t appropriate, but neither is dismissing the fair points they are making about your character. Today I want to focus on a way that you can manage both of these sides at the same time. I’ll start off by illustrating it with an allegory.

The Shot)

Imagine for a moment that a piece of criticism is like getting a shot. Having a needle stuck in your arm, even when administered by a professional, is always going to sting. It’s exactly the same as when we’re being told that we’re doing something wrong, no matter the abundance of tact used, it will always sting a bit. How we respond to this prospect of pain depends on how mature we are.

Children might respond to a shot by arguing against the person trying to administer it, or going limp and falling over so that the needle can’t pierce their skin, or even striking back. We do the same thing with criticism when we start dismissing it as incorrect, entering a depressive state where we tune out everything that has been said, or even start hurling insults back at the person. We don’t care about the medicine that is being offered, we are exclusively focused on the pain that is associated with it.

A more mature person will sit upright and calmly receive the inoculation. They’ll accept the momentary discomfort as a necessary inconvenience, and the whole thing will be over much sooner because of their cooperation.

But so far we’ve been assuming a careful administrator of the shot/criticism. Now let us imagine that the person coming at us is enraged, and they’re swinging that needle wildly! That needle may still have some worthy medicine inside of it, but we’re going to suffer more damage than good by letting this person carve into our flesh with reckless abandon.

The ideal solution (and believe me, this is far easier said than done), would be to stop the would-be attacker, take the syringe into your own hands, and calmly administer its composition to yourself. In terms of dealing with abusive criticism, this means that you will not permit yourself to be insulted or screamed at, and if someone breaks this boundary you will leave the situation, but at the same time you will be sensitive and empathetic to the emotions that are behind the attack.

An Example)

Let us give a clear example of this. Imagine a lust addict in recovery who goes in public with his wife. An attractive woman passes them by and the wife starts to wonder if her husband is lusting for her. The wife feels hurt and insulted, and after getting home she lays into her husband, accusing him of having been emotionally unfaithful the entire evening. She brings up all the past wrongs that he has committed. She shouts, she insults and disparages, she swears, and she tries to push him back into the role of irredeemable cheater. Maybe she even starts to get physical!

And all the while the husband in this case was having a perfectly innocent, sober-minded evening. Now he’s under attack, though, and his fight-or-flight instincts are kicking in. He wants to shout back, or to disappear into his shame, but that will only aggravate the situation. Instead, he realizes that he needs to disarm the situation and acknowledge his wife’s justified hurt.

That doesn’t mean that the husband has to engage with any false narrative, though. He doesn’t have to take her insults to heart. He doesn’t have to say he was lusting that night if he really wasn’t. But he does speak up and admits that that he has betrayed his wife in the past and he can see that she is still hurting for it and he is sorry. He validates her underlying pain, but he does not condone her out-of-line behavior.

If his wife is able to be in a calm place, then he will remain in her presence and work to understand more of that underlying pain. He will take ownership for past faults and meditate upon them. She will see how he applies the syringe to himself and allows himself to feel sad and emotional for the harm that he has caused. If, on the other hand, the wife remains abusively hostile, and needs some space, then the husband moves somewhere else and has that moment of empathy and introspection in private. In either case, he has done his part to learn and grow from the constructive criticism that was hiding inside the abusive criticism. He has responded to the situation in a way that is respectful and honest.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Three

Toxic Criticism)

In my last post I explained that the addict needs to find empathy for the pain that his behavior caused his wife, though this is easier said than done. Speaking for myself, even after years of practice I still have many emotional safeguards that tried to dissuade me from really leaning into the pain. There is always that tendency to become defensive and search for any other path. I have even tried to fake empathy at times while keeping my heart securely locked off, but nothing but sincerity works. As my mentor in my first addiction recovery program often repeated “you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you can’t go over it. You have to go through it.”

Part of the challenge facing the addict is that he will likely face all manner of challenges that trigger his defense mechanisms. Typically the addict’s wife is not only hurt, she is angry, and that anger can come through in a multitude of ways. Insults or shouting or misrepresenting events will tempt the addict to dismiss everything his wife is saying. She’s being irrational, unfair, or intentionally derogatory, so he feels excused from taking anything that she says to heart. After all, this is already delicate, shameful ground for the addict, and anything abrasive is likely to drive him into his shell.

Certainly, the wife of the addict has a right to be angry. She has been profoundly hurt, and no one would reasonably expect her language to be unaffected by that. But at the same time, there must be a point where the expressing of one’s hurt can go too far, starting to become a form of abuse itself. Where is that point? Where is the line where one’s invective just isn’t okay any more? Even if someone has justified anger, they can express it in an unjustified way. And when they do, how are you supposed to respond to that?

Well, we will get into all of that, but before anything else I wanted to spend the rest of the day discussing a fact that every addict needs to appreciate.

Ricochet Damage)

If your spouse is expressing her anger in a way that is unfair, isn’t that basically the same as exactly what you did to her? Wasn’t the revelation of your betrayal something that caught your wife totally off guard? Didn’t it hurt her without justification? Didn’t it come on her totally out of the blue? You might be totally right that this pain your spouse is putting on you is unfair, but paradoxically, undeserved pain is exactly what you do deserve!

Now I’m not here to say that two wrongs make a right, but I am going to maintain that you can use this as an opportunity to better appreciate the reality of what you inflicted upon your spouse. You can feel all the stinging, out-of-line, crushing pain and say “I get it, that’s what I did to you.” In most cases, what you are feeling is nothing more than a part of the damage that you put out into the world ricocheting back in your face.

Which, once again, is not to say that we should live an eye-for-an-eye, but we do need to appreciate what it was for like for the other person when we took their eye away. We need to be able to have a taste for that experience, even if we don’t have to experience all of it.

When the addict’s spouse sees that he is deflecting her pain, that is only going to aggravate her further! The fastest way for the addict to de-escalate his wife’s anger is for him to develop a genuine and profound understanding of her pain. Cheap, phony efforts are only going to prolong things and make it worse for everyone. The addict must learn to lean face-first into the pelting hail. He needs to allow some of the shrapnel bouncing back from his own actions to land in the flesh.

I’ve said it twice now, and I’ll say it one more time. None of this is to say that verbal or physical abuse from a wounded spouse just has to be put up with. There is a line between holding empathy for another’s pain and just being their punching bag. And maybe that makes sense conceptually, but how do you actually walk that line in practice? Come back tomorrow as we explore the answer.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Addiction and the Angry Spouse: Part Two

What More Can I Say?)

Sometimes “sorry” isn’t enough. I discovered this fact when I started to face the wrongs that I had done in my addiction. I found that I could acknowledge how I had messed up, I could genuinely say that I was sorry, and I could offer to make amends however possible…but that still was not enough to fix things.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to do these things showed that I had made great progress in my journey. They were good things to be able to do, and I was proud to have finally made it that far, but my work was not yet done.

This fact particularly manifested itself in my interactions with my wife. Both of us had acknowledged how far I had come, but it was clear to us that there something was still missing. My wife was still hurting, and no amount of me being a new and improved version of myself changed that fact.

Admittedly at this point I felt helpless. What more could I say? I wished that she could just stop feeling the hurt, but that wasn’t a switch that she could flip on and off. And even if she could have done that, there was still this sense that I hadn’t really done all my part yet. There was still something I was holding back.

Leaning In)

The conversations that highlighted my reluctance were the ones where she tried to get me to understand just how much I had hurt her. From these discussions I came to understand that her entire world had been fractured, that she had trusted me unquestioning for years, only to find out that I had been lying the whole time. I came to understand that these experiences had shaken her entire paradigm. If she had been so convinced of what was true about me, and had been so wrong, then how much else in her life was a lie? Nothing could be trusted anymore. She was alone without anything or anyone.

And I had absolutely no idea what to say to all of that. How was I supposed to respond? She was right, of course, but what could I do about it? I was sorry, if I could take all it back I would, but I couldn’t. What was done was done, and now I was doing all in my power to be a different person moving forward. What else was there?

Honestly, I don’t know that I would have ever found out the answer to that question without the help of my recovery group counselor. It was he who helped us to understand the essential quality of empathy in healing. He made it clear that it wasn’t enough for me to merely understand what my wife was being put through, I had to start empathizing with it. I had to find a way to step into that pain, to get a sense of what it was really like for her. I had made great strides towards understanding her on a mental level, but now it had to get emotional.

And that was a lot easier said than done. At first it seemed impossible to feel the feelings of another person to that degree. I was hearing her say that she was sad and angry, and I was trying to make myself feel sad and angry, too, but that never came out as sincere. Eventually I realized that I needed to move a little further upstream. I needed to not replicate the emotions she was describing, but replicate the experience that had caused the emotions in the first place. I had to envision someone putting on me the same sorts of things I had put on my wife, and then the negative emotions would come naturally. I genuinely and authentically started to have a real taste of what she was going through. I still cannot claim that I fully went through the experience, but I started to feel at least some of it.

Building Empathy)

Being able to lean into this sort of empathy was definitely a process. I got better at it over time, though there had always been some resistance to doing it. Part of me really didn’t want to imagine what it was like to be on the receiving end of the stunts I had pulled, because that put me in a place of shame. I had to be brave and really let down my guard and let the empathy take me. When I finally was able to do that there were many tears and many epiphanies. Best of all, my wife expressed that she was really starting to feel heard and understood. And that, it turned out, had been the missing piece.

Now, I’ve given the highly abbreviated version of this process. There were a lot of missteps along the way, both for me and my wife, but I wanted to fast-track to where we finally got it right so that you could know the target to aim for. In the rest of this series, I’m going to take a step back to call out some of the common mistakes that get made along the way. Come back tomorrow as we start digging into those.

NOTE: Throughout this series I refer to the addict as “he” and the injured partner as his “wife.” This is merely a convenience for maintaining consistency. It is entirely possible for the addict to be a woman and the injured partner to be her husband. It is also entirely possible for the strained relationship to be between non-romantic partners, such as with a parent and a child.

Layers of Man- Overview

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. - 1 Kings 16:7

In his excellent series Restoring the Shack, author William Paul Young discusses the different layers that there are to a person. He points out that what most of us present to the world is nothing more than a façade, a carefully-constructed window dressing that reveals how we want to be seen, but which is far removed from who we actually are inside. He explains that behind the façade there is an inner layer which may appear more like a broken-down shack. And while we may feel that it would kill us to reveal that part to another person, we will never have any true connection until we do.

John Eldredge also speaks of this idea of layers in his book Wild at Heart. He illustrated how we create a “poser,” a carefully crafted image, whose primary function to is protect an inner wound. The poser prevents anyone from getting to a place that is vulnerable and tender, but as William Paul Young suggests, this again means never having any true connection.

Both Young and Eldredge identify a fake, outer layer, and also a sensitive inner one. Personally I feel that they identify two different inner layers, though. There is the shame, that William Paul Young discusses at great length, and there is the wound, which Eldredge focuses on. But these inner layers cannot represent the entire self either. There must still be a deeper layer, the one that feels hurt by the wound, the one that feels ashamed of the misbehavior.

As I have examined my own life I have found this notion of layers to be absolutely true, and I have recognized the hierarchy that they organize themselves into. Within my life, and I suspect many others, there is

  1. Façade
  2. Shame
  3. Wound
  4. Divine

This sequence of these layers is not random, either. I have presented them in order of intimacy and truth. The deeper you go into the layers, the more secret and sacred of a space you come into.

Over the next few days I will explore each of these layers in turn, and what each specifically represents for me. I will consider how these layers are formed, how they help or hurt us, and how we return to our core self after we recognize the falsehoods of the others. If these notions are new to you they may bring up some difficult realizations. I can understand anyone that doesn’t want to see these intimate parts uncovered, I certainly did not want to go to these places for the first few decades of my life. And for good reason.

But I can also attest that one will never be fully alive until this work is gone through. This is the most important work any of us can do for ourselves, the work of discovering our true, divine heart. Make no mistake, there are dragons ahead, but dragons must be faced!

Optimism in a Falling World- Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-11, 2 Nephi 9:41

Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.


I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive
The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there
I’ve discussed the desire some have to see the world burn, to see the wicked made accountable for all that they have done wrong. To this sentiment come the verses I have quoted above. God will see to the matters of judgment and forgiveness on His own. We are governed by His law, judged by His eye, and doled out mercy or retribution at His discretion.
He employs no servant in the matter of gatekeeping. He doesn’t need or want our help in deciding who is worthy of heaven. Will some be saved and others damned? Surely. Does it matter to us one bit which they will be? Not at all.

Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother remaineth in the greater sin
But of you it is required to forgive all men
The question of this study is how to not despair as the world embraces evil. It is about how we keep our faith in humanity and work with our brothers and sisters, rather than leave them to their fates. And I believe part of the answer is how we deal with the sins that humanity commits against us. Each of us is affected by the growth of evil in the world, each of us is hurt by the collective abuse of human selfishness.
And our faithlessness in humanity often stems from that initial hurt we received from society, that time when some worldly darkness first broke our innocence. We might know that we need to forgive individuals, but as recorded in these verses what about the requirement “to forgive all men?” If we’re ever to get our faith in humanity back we have to make our peace with the world at large. We have to forgive society first before we can help it.

Give Thanks- Second Chances

I am grateful for second chances.

There is a childish fear in us that if we make someone upset our friendship is over forever. That if we are sent to prison we can never be a part of society again. That if we, or our parents, go through a divorce we will never be whole again. That if we do something wrong, there isn’t a reason for others to like us anymore.

In short, many times in life we have a sense of something breaking and we believe that now it must always be broken. And while sticks and stones might work that way, living things have always had a remarkable ability to heal. And so forgiveness and second chances and mended hearts are a very real part of life. And when it is the hardest to believe in them is when they need to be believed in the most.


The Captive Heart- John 15:19-20, Exodus 21:24

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot


But because ye are not of the world, the world hateth you
In our lives, others will hurt us. Indeed, we experience this unpleasant heartbreak when we are still very small. Our parents are harsh with us and our peers make fun of us. Those we depend on for support and love while still so vulnerable betray us instead.
When we get older the circle of criticism goes out further. When we are children our view is limited to immediate family and friends, but when we grow older we become aware of the greater world. And there we discover that there are those who call us evil and wish we were eradicated. It frankly doesn’t matter which ideology or belief we subscribe to, there is always someone who sees our way of life as the source of all the world’s problems.
We feel the truth of Jesus’s words: that we are not a part of this world, and because of that the world hates us. This experience is true for all of us, for all of us are foreigners to this Earth. We don’t belong, and we distinctly feel the friction of that.

Eye for eye
And, of course, the natural reaction to being hurt by that friction is to hurt back again. An eye-for-an-eye is the rule of this world, it is simply the best form of balance and justice that the mortal realm can provide.
It is a hard law. Each of us will transgress it at some point, because we are imperfect. Each of us will unquestionably wound another, and then balance will demand that we must be wounded, too. Thus we must all be hurt, but should we just try to be hurt as equally as possible? This would mean each new invention of cruelty must eventually be permeated through the whole. The entire world situation could only become more miserable. In a way it is fair…but what a horrible fate for us all.
Can anyone question that somehow we need to be saved from this mortal condemnation?