Jeff grew up with uninvolved parents who didn’t work with him on athletic skills, or learning to drive, or applying to college. It hurt. He tapped other resources, watched how others did things, figured it out on his own and still managed to achieve. In his heart, he vowed that he would not ask for help ever again. Asking for help hurt. He would be a self-made man who handles everything on his own. But what happens when he gets married and the sink develops a leak on Christmas Eve? Jeff’s not sure how to fix it and his wife recommends asking Joe next door to help because Joe is both knowledgeable and gracious about such things. That “kaboom” you hear is the anger welling up inside Jeff and coming out in an explosion of angry words. Or, perhaps he becomes quiet and sullen. He withdraws. Either way, there goes a merry Christmas.
Or, think about the topic that is dangerous for you and your spouse to discuss. What came to mind? Money? In-laws? Intimacy? You tip-toe around any discussion of the topic because every previous discussion of it has not ended well. Why is that topic rife with landmines?
Why do we put up with emotional explosions or stonewalling or tip-toeing around rather than looking for the source of the pain and seeking God to heal it when Jesus said God sent Him “to proclaim release to the captives”? (Luke 4:18) God cares about our pain and wants to heal it: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.” (Isaiah 53:4).
I’ve heard a number of reasons, and I’ll be covering them in the next few blog posts.
Reason #1: They don’t think they have a problem.
In some cases they don’t feel much pain because they simply don’t feel much of anything. They grew up in a stoic family that modeled bearing up under pain as a way of life. Some people learned early in life to mask or bury their emotions, so they have become accustomed to not feeling. Those who carry out jobs that require them to stay in their heads like doctors and surgeons, policemen and soldiers may have learned to suppress their emotions, so they don’t allow themselves to feel. But God gave us emotions because we need them. You certainly need to be able to access your emotions to get to the bottom of negative reactions.
Other people feel they don’t have a problem because all problems were resolved when they came to Christ. Your sins were all forgiven. Your eternal destiny was resolved. But there is a difference between positional and practical holiness. We have to grow into spiritual maturity. None of us is perfect this side of heaven. We are still working out the hurts we’ve caused and the hurt that was done to us. The more you get your hurts resolved, the better all your relationships will be—especially your marriage.
And then there are the people who don’t think they have a problem because they are in denial. One man was a little boy when his dad left his mom and him to start a new family just across town. He maintains that he was a bit hurt and rebellious at first, but now he and his dad are great friends. His wife says he never gets along with male bosses and gets fired by them repeatedly. Coincidence? Or do you think Jesus would like to heal a little boy’s heart and give him freedom?
In the next few weeks, we will look at three (and a half) more reasons people live with emotional pain that gets in the way of relating harmoniously with their spouse and how to bring the hurt to Jesus for healing.
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