I believe that most people undergo some sort of emotional pain. With some, the pain is intense, comparable to the agony one might suffer from being in a bad car accident. For others, it may be small, like a mild headache. But we all go through emotional pain of varying levels all through our lives.
Severe pain causes us to act in strange ways. Many of us turn to alcohol or drugs as a source of relief. Others become violent and abusive, wanting to inflict what they feel upon others. Still others seek solace in the arms of another person, never mind that the pleasure might be fleeting and cause even more pain later. Some of us just lose our minds.
Unfortunately, when we haven’t experienced such severity of pain, we cannot realize how deeply people suffer. We can only look at the actions that result and be contemptuous of their weakness. So, God sometimes *allows* us to go through emotional distress to understand what others go through.
This even applies to sinfulness. When we are in a state of grace, able to lead a relatively holy life, we can look upon those who sin with contempt, forgetting that if God takes off his supporting hand, we will fall flat on our faces. When we think too much of ourselves, God will sometimes remove that hand to show us how reliant we are on him. When we rise, it is hopefully as a wiser, grateful, and more compassionate person.
However, we don’t need to learn this lesson the hard way. The easier method is by being more empathic and less judgemental. This will lead to a more loving attitude. Jesus says: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (see Luke 6:27). How can we love our enemies if we can’t even love our friends? Therefore, as Paul advises: “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). It is advice we would do well to follow.
So, if you have someone in your life who is addicted to alcohol, hooked on drugs, exhibiting aggression, or acting in other anti-social ways, and you want to change them, try kindness. You can effect more change through love than anything else. Reach out to someone who is hurting in love today. What have you got to lose?
And if you are one of these people who is in a lot of pain, know that God loves you even if nobody else seems to. One day, he will use your brokenness to help others, just like that emotionally wounded cop in the movie “The Guilty” did. As a friend told him when he saved an equally emotionally broken family: “Broken people save broken people.”