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February 15, 2012

Behind the Veil of a Bandage the Wound Still Bleeds

For many years I have worked and encountered many people whose hearts were still bleeding over the painful events of yesteryears due to emotional wounds. Once in a while they will lash out at co-workers, close friends, or family members for reasons unexplained by present situations leaving many people bewildered. The exaggerated response did not fit situations in question, except a representation of an inner soul wounds still bleeding. It is not unusual for a wife abused by her husband to lash out at co-workers because of the bleeding inner emotional wounds. A man in disagreement with his father lashes out at older men at work. Victimized people always pick outlet for their emotional release causing many people a lot of pain, and at other times ignite destructive responses leading to violence. People who hated their own personal failures tend to lash out at others. They do this because they feel uncomfortable seeing the success of others. A manager married for ten years who was barren became very angry with a co-worker who had six children. Each time the coworker brought pictures of her new baby the barren manager became very angry. Later, the manager worked the system to her advantage and finally got the coworker fired from her job. The emotional release usually does not solve the problem within while it continues to propagate pathological responses as the victim continues to victimize other people along the pathways.

Forgiveness Heals the Bleeding Soul Wounds

People who are suffering from soul wounds tend to look for ways to bandage their wounds using drug, alcohol, illicit sex, or other forms of pathological behaviors. These behaviors never solve the problem leading to more problems. Such bandage does not work as the soul keeps bleeding. Jesus, in his sermon on the mountain gave us a clue as to how we should handle those who have offended us. Jesus asked us to forgive and go on with our lives. The primary purpose is to do ourselves a favor, by cutting the offender lose, so we can find healing and freedom in God’s presence. His idea may fall on the deaf ears of those who want to get even or retain anger over many years. As long as the victim refuses to forgive, he is locked in a bondage situation only he can get himself out. Forgiveness is a way to release one’s self of the agony of emotional bondage.

In 2011 Evangelist Joyce Meyer, a well known television evangelist shocked the nation when she came on the air to announce that her father raped her over 200 times. She told the audience how the abuse, which took place over the years as a child, affected her behavior, and messed up her life. She refused to be a victim was the theme of her message. She explained how through the power of God she was able to overcome and have a productive life. Joyce threw a bomb when she said, "I’m glad it happened because it made a better person out of me." For a while I had difficulty with that last statement she made. It took me a while to understand that she was not condoning what happened to her, but she was trying to help many people who were suffering from soul wounds to find healing ground in Christ. She also alluded to something I did not realize at the time I heard the message. Perhaps she was appealing to many people who had been hurt, or emotionally damaged not to resort to violence, or other pathological behavior. She shouted during her message with tear in her eyes, "Look at me! Look at me people! I survived! You too can overcome your pain!" The camera displayed the teary faces of many women in the audience. It was like a group therapy session. Wow!

The value of Evangelist Joyce Meyer’s preaching cannot be over estimated when we look at society and how people respond to emotional wounding. Perhaps there is a wife or husband planning to commit murder after the revelation of the spouse’s extra-marital affairs. A worker who felt cheated was plotting a revenge to blow many of his coworkers away. A person who had been bullied wanted to get even. A wife who was sexually abused by her father had been punishing her husband for the crime of her father. A young man refused to trust anybody because his friends betrayed him. A young lady became promiscuous because she wanted to prove to the world that she was not a lesbian, like her mother who left and broke her father’s heart. Perhaps you just lost a loved one very dear to you. Another person just lost his job thinking about ways to survive financially and sustain his family. A jilted lover felt so much anger after being dumped for another person. The list of events causing emotional wounds continues. In any of these situations the emotional wounds may be enormous. The preacher, Joyce Meyer is telling us that despite the wounding sustained from other people causing us a lot of pain, or some painful events of life, God can take the same situation, and turn it into a wonderful achievement for his glory.

How we Handle the Bleeding Heart Reveals our Faith in Christ

The question is, should we keep living while harboring emotional wounds, or should we find healing with the Lord? Regardless to the emotional wounds we sustain in life, we can find a healing ground inside Jesus Christ. Through him, we can learn to heal without emotional scar. I have had to deal with some husbands after they discovered their wives extramarital affairs. Being in counseling with these husbands is one of the most difficult areas of counseling and therapy. Anything you say sometimes may be offensive and aggravate anger in a husband who is already hurting. Some of the situations ended up very ugly regardless to who was involved whether a Christian or a non-Christian. Some were able to patch their relationships and move beyond the affairs. Others kept many years of bleeding heart. There is no way to diminish the magnitude of such a betrayal. It is humongous! However, should murder be the response to such a hurt? The way people handle such painful challenges in life depends on how well ground they are in their Christian faith.

My approach in therapy with men whose wives have been involved with extramarital affairs is never to give the husbands any reason to resort to violence with their wives. I tried hard to make them understand that although I condemn the wife’s behavior, but the husband should remember he is a sinner who received mercy through the Lord’s grace. Some husbands credited such statement while some refused to talk to me after that session because they felt I was insensitive to their emotional pain. I have heard this a couple of times in response to that statement, "I’m no Jesus!" I do empathized with their emotional wounds, but I hate to give them a reason to resort to violent behavior against their wives because of the extra-marital affairs. Some people will come to a counselor seeking for approval to do what is evil in justification of their hurt. I refuse to support anybody to justify violence of any kind against somebody who had offended him or her.

When a woman was brought before Jesus due to her prostitution, Jesus did not ask the people to go ahead and stone her. Jesus disarmed the men by asking, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone" (St. John 8:7). Jesus allowed them to see the mirror of their own sins before they carry out vigilante justice. Similarly, when we are angry at other people’s offenses, perhaps we need to look inside ourselves before resorting to violence. Casting stones at a sinner is easy and sometimes comforting as we choose to ignore our own self-righteousness, and selfishness despite our own sins. You can choose to divorce a spouse who has cheated on you, but murder or any form of violence is not an option regardless to your hurt. You can beat her all you want. Does that change anything? It just makes you look like a little kid still wearing diapers. You display your emotional strength by self-restraint.

We have become a society who loves to even scores or get even with those who have offended us. A wife got angry with her husband due to his affairs with another woman. She ran over her husband a couple of times with her car and killed him. Another wife boiled hot oil and poured it all over her husband while he was asleep because she discovered her husband had a mistress. A preacher’s wife found out her husband was having an affair with a prostitute. She divorced him. A couple of months later, the prostitute left. The preacher was alone. Later the husband begged the wife to come back, weeping on the telephone and begging the wife and asking for forgiveness. The wife refused and told him she had a boyfriend. Both man and woman were serving in the ministry. Months later, the preacher husband committed suicide. The wife later said she did not know her ex-husband’s affair was a cry for help. Could these tragedies have been prevented? When we take our eyes off of our own pain, perhaps we may see the hurt of others.

An angry response to a cheated lover is not because we love so much, but because we look at the lover as a piece of possession. We do not want anybody to mess with our possession. True love hurts. Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (St. John 15:13). He was beaten, stripped naked and humiliated, tortured and murdered by the same people he was sent to rescue from a life of sin. Yet, in the middle of his sufferings, he was praying for those that were abusing him saying, "Father, forgive them, for know not what they were doing" (St. Luke 23:34). How many people can do what Jesus did and call it love?

No war has ever started with a group of people. All wars started from within an individual person in power who used the power of his office to kill many innocent people because of his bleeding heart. As people use alcohol, drugs, and sometimes pornography to bandage their wounds, so some leaders shed innocent blood as a therapy for their inner soul wounds sustained from childhood. They become bloodthirsty while using all the excuses in the world to shed the blood of innocent people. Despite thousands of people, or sometimes millions of people died in the war they started, it was never enough to heal the wounds of a bleeding heart behind the veil of a useless bandage.

Why Some Preachers are Hooked on Porn

Each time I hear that statistics about a large percentage of preachers are hooked on pornography, I just laughed to myself thinking, people still don’t get the message. There was a convention of Evangelical Christians in a particular town, and the hotels recorded a large increase in the number of hits on porn websites and television programs. Most of those hits were coming from Christians in town.

One thing we Christians do very well, we love to put up fictitious image, and later condemn others for the same thing we do, so we can look good in the public. Think about these scenarios. What are the chances of compliance after placing a very delicious food before a person starving telling him never to touch the food? If a prisoner is not rehabilitated dealing with the cause factors, how can the person be a positive contribution to society after release? The point being, many of the preachers including Christians hitting porn websites are doing it not because they are unaware of the condemnation within Christian morals. Do we ever think about the reasons why they are visiting those sites? This is not a way to justify immoral behavior, but to explain it so we can find solutions. I will discuss these in the next session.

When a person is hurting, he or she will look for a bandage. The bandage may be drug, illicit sex, alcohol, or other perversions to numb the pain. A depressed preacher is looking for sexual excitements to lift him up instead of seeking the Spirit of God to lift him up. If he is not walking in the Spirit of God, no matter how much he dances before the audience, after the theatrical presentations, he goes into depression in his hotel room. At that moment porn becomes a comforting excitement to bandage depression. Perhaps the preacher suspected his wife was having an affair, or his wife refused to be intimate with him. How could he handle this type of pain, or rejection in silence? May be the preacher had other pains in his life. Who is the counselor for the bleeding heart of a preacher? Sometimes the preacher’s angry wife syndrome kicks in. The wife may be angry with her husband for spending more time in the ministry than with the family. The wife inadvertently retaliated by withholding affections from him. After all the highs of the pulpit, the wife is not there to give him physical comfort and nurture. Who is the therapist, or a counselor for a preacher that is suffering in silence? The porn becomes a good comforter in the flesh.

Cure for a Preacher Hooked on Porn

The cure is very simple. The more we walk in the flesh; the more flesh drives our desires. The more we walk in the Spirit of God, the more we are driven by the desires of the Spirit of God regardless to the emotional pain. The critical problem afflicting many preachers who suffer from depression, is their lack of walking in the Spirit of God. I have gone many years working in the ministry without a vacation. I even forgot about anything called vacation. My vacations are my days off my regular job. I use those off days to serve in the ministry 24-7. I have to get my sleep however. If you come closer to the Lord and enter into his presence, your despair and depression will disappear. Jesus will energize you three or four times a month through the Holy Spirit, a process called re-anointing. It is a way Jesus designed to replenish the spiritual energy of his servants working on the mission field. If you walk more in the Spirit of God, you will encounter such provision by Jesus for those dedicated to serving him. Jesus will shield you from any painful moments of life and walk you through the wilderness storms that you will not even notice. Therefore, the Christians seeking porn on the Internet are not deliberately being disobedience to God; they are searching some pleasure to bandage their bleeding hearts. But despite the bandage, the wound still bleeds.

Where Today’s Church Creates the Problem

I do not believe in this idea of forcing a person to comply by taking his computer away from him, or sending him to Christian prison with monks, so he would never have access to the Internet again. Anytime a person is forced to do something, he or she will find another way to bypass the restrictions. Think about the oath of celibacy in the Catholic Church with priest and nuns. How many times that oath is broken and violated due to the need for expression of human sexuality. In some situations, that oath is violated through illicit sex, alcohol or drugs. The best treatment for porn or any for of addiction is to walk a person in the Spirit of God. The closer we get to the Lord in the Spirit, the less appealing the things of the flesh. "In his presence is the fullness of joy. In his right hand are pleasures for ever more" (Psalm 16:11). Once a person truly experiences the presence of God, that person will no longer be the same. The spirit of addiction will fall off the person like dead flies falling off a tree. Nobody will force such a person to comply. Compliance comes voluntarily when we are in Christ. The Spirit of God will lead us. However from time to time due to fleshly desires, we tend to fall back into old habits again. The ugly man reveals his face! This is not unusual; it is the time for fasting, intense praying, and working hard to kill the fleshly desires to embrace the will of God through the Spirit.

The reason why we have many Christians searching for ways to pleasure their physical body using porn is because the church is FAILING in its job to lead people to walk in the Spirit of God. Instead of guiding people to walk in the Spirit, we are preaching "God wants to bless you" message. "However before you receive that blessing, you must first empty your pockets for the preacher, praise the Lord!" When the church continues to preach this nonsense, how do we expect people to be transformed by such messages? What such message is telling the people is that the greatest glory lies in the flesh as we achieve personal fulfillment to shine before the world about our riches. Absolute garbage! This is very contrary to what Jesus preached. Jesus said, "What profits a man if he shall gain the whole world and to lose his soul?" (St. Matthew 16:26).

Church’s message about the relentless pursuit of riches at all cost and in supporting those who are doing the same leaves people inadequate. What happens to preaching about embracing suffering to achieve a greater good? Isn’t that what Jesus did? That was what Jesus did for us. He suffered for the purpose of a greater good. Jesus did not have a private plane. He rode to Jerusalem in a borrowed donkey. Jesus used the upper room which belonged to somebody else for Last Supper. He went and ate from house to house. He was even buried in a borrowed tomb. Jesus himself declared and said in many words that he was homeless, "Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head" (St. Matthew 8:20). Yet, many of today’s preachers lost the message of Christ in their own desire buried in greed with private jets and multimillion dollars mansions. Give me a break! We wonder why joy and peace eluded some of them. As long as the church continues to preach the misleading prosperity gospel, we continue to get people stuck in the flesh. People have the right to go to church expecting to bring home a truckload of blessings from Jesus. If it does not work for them, why should they believe in our Jesus? Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (St. Matthew 6:33). Today, we turn Jesus message upside down by searching first for the kingdom of the flesh and earthly desires, and seek to pay the bills later.

Church Leaves People without Choices

When a prostitute was brought before Jesus, as I mentioned earlier, the religious people of those days wanted blood. They wanted that woman’s head despite they were sinners too. In the end, they experienced the mercy of God through Jesus. When the same religious leaders ostracized the tax collectors as sinners, Jesus went eating with them. Jesus was mild about legalism but very heavy about the issues of the Spirit. Contrary to Jesus, today we are very heavy on legalism, against abortion, right to life, and other legalism issues, but we fail to lead people in the Spirit of God. Our war on the political front could have been unnecessary if we have been successful in the church reaching the minds of the people with the gospel message. We display fictitious image of self-righteousness and Holiness before people while sitting on the sewer of immorality, and closet filled with personal skeletons. We make Christianity very distasteful to the secular world. The point being, we love to put up a fictitious image of saints when in reality we know such images are not easily attainable by us, or the same people we persecute. Therefore, when Christians deviate from the norms, they do so in hiding. They were hoping not to be discovered by the Christian police force cruising the religious byways and highways of the church.

To illustrate this point, take the case of a married couple after being married for twenty years filed for divorce. They have been living separately for a year and both husband and wife had external interests in other people. They both agreed to end their marriage despite they are both Christians. They believed they fell out of love and no longer have common interests. They stopped being intimate. Their purpose of coming to therapy was to work out ways to deal with their children. They wanted to prevent conflicts between them from affecting their children. The Christian therapist saw the intense commitment of both husband and wife, not to injure their four teenage children as a result of their divorce. Consequently, the therapist utilized that tool of commitment to help the divorcing couples. They were both instructed to take off two weeks from their jobs. Both of them agreed. They were to attend a therapy session every other day for 14 days. The Christian therapist asked both of them to do a lot of things together including attending the church services, picnics, dinner at restaurants, hiking, and all other things they used to enjoy doing while dating. They were both instructed never to contact any romantic interest they had established outside their relationship. They were only to spend time with each other, excluding the children. Although they live separately, they were to say, "I love you to each other each time they meet." They must both respond to the statement with hug and kisses each day. Each time they attended the session, the Christian therapist would show them the videotape of a couple in love as they first met, started dating, and all the things people do when they are in love. The movie ended on the twelfth day of their fourteenth day therapy. On the last day, the movie showed the couple in the video in intimate love scenes milder than the love scenes played on some of the day tine Soap Opera.

On the fourteen-day the therapy was about to end, the couples have fallen madly in love with each other again. They claimed their love for each other the second time around was more intense, real, and more selfless love with spiritual commitment. They cancelled their divorce, moved back together, and had a big party to celebrate their second wedding and commitment to each other. Some people may criticize the romantic video used in this therapy, and other may embrace it. But, it worked to bring the couples back together again. The therapy saw the couple’s commitment to not injure their children with the divorce. The therapist therefore used that commitment to bring the couples back together again, igniting the fire of previous romance they had for each other. Both couples ended falling back in love again. They both realized they share a lot in common than apart. In some situations, Christian rigid values might not have allowed some of the techniques used in such therapy session which ended up benefiting the couples and their children.

Resolution of a Bleeding Heart

Life brings so many challenges. There are moments of both highs and lows. The way we choose to respond to them depends on how well grounded is our faith in Christ. Life’s journey can be delicate and painful, exciting and sometimes destructive. We are going to walk through many storms in this life. Learning to forgive those who trespassed against us may be one of the biggest antidotes we need to heal the emotional wounds within. Once we attain that closeness to the Lord Jesus, at that moment the bleeding from the soul wound stops. Jesus does not place a bandage on the soul wound. He completely heals the wound without emotional scar. If you are reading this article and your heart is still bleeding, find solace in the arms of Our Lord Jesus Christ and surrender to him. Enter into his presence by enlarging the Holy Spirit within. He will draw you closer to his heart. He will bring you to a healing ground. In his presence you will find the greatest joy and peace no one else can offer you. Getting even with anybody will never make your situation better, but make it worse. Prove your strength by surrendering to Christ. Only Jesus can help you find solace in life, he will also set you free.

While I was putting a finishing touch on this article on Saturday 11, February 2012, the nation received the shocking and tragic news about the sudden death of Whitney Houston at Hilton Hotel in California. She was a well known performance artist and singer with one of the most beautiful voices I ever had in music, died at the age of 48. One of my favorite of her songs is "I want to dance with somebody." I love the instrumental and the dance beat. Her story of giant success and her tragic death made the point in this article. How many people knew the troubled life she lived while using drugs to numb the pain of her bleeding heart? How many people attempted to help her, even the celebrity preachers? Entertainers are like preachers. The height of performance is the best and most exciting time on the stage with the music, flashing lights, and the audience cheers. When the lights go down, the music is turned off, and the audience disappears, inside the loneliness of that hotel room comes the invasion of the monster called depression. In the absence of a committed life to Christ, sometimes the bandage meant to stop the bleeding may claim the body, and tear it to shreds. What a beautiful voice that ended so soon. When her voice started to fail was the final warning about her gradual demise. How we can prevent this type of tragedies in the future is the question to be answered by celebrity preachers, church ministers, Christian counselors across the nation, and the celebrity close associates and family members. We are still waiting for the implementation of emergency national hotline for preachers and celebrities in crisis after the death of Pastor Zachery Tims of Florida who died in New York hotel in August 2011. On Sunday morning the church theatrical entertainment, music, and performance continue across the nation in what we call worship services. Yet, we are failing to touch the hearts of worshippers with the gospel message leading them in a spiritual journey to Christ. Is the price of fame more painful than is worth? May God have mercy on us.

Solomon was the wisest and richest king on earth. God gave him wisdom, but he suffered from depression because of his life of excess. He gave many wonderful pieces of advice regarding life in the physical world. He said very little about the realm of the Spirit of God. Solomon despite his earthly wisdom given by God had little wisdom about the things of the Spirit of God. No matter how we rationalize things in the physical, they are not enough to carry us over the threshold of our emotional pain. Jesus came in the picture and gave us the gift of healing in the Spirit bringing solace to our troubled soul.

Your heart (soul) will only stop bleeding if you offer it completely to the Lord Jesus. No earthly bandage can stop your bleeding heart. Like an old proverb, "A knife never gets dull in the hand of a skillful surgeon." Similarly, an ordinary piece in the hand of the Lord becomes a super-extraordinary vessel, and that may as well be you. Jesus will heal your soul without an emotional scar. Your giant success in life does not protect you from the painful depression of life. If you want peace, find Jesus, hold on to him, and never let him go.

By Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus.