020.1 Pain and Pretending, pt. 5: Locks and Chains

As we continue to explore pain and its effects, we will talk about vows – how pain changes our belief systems and causes us to make decisions that can last a lifetime.

The most destructive pain isn’t any specific kind of act or occurance, but rather whatever affects your sense of worth.

Many people make vows in an instance of abuse. This is a decision the victim makes concerning what they will allow in their life, or what they will pursue. Vows are so powerful because they are made to defend the victim’s very existance. It changes fundamentally their motivations and how they interpret the world around them. This essentially changes who you are. People also make vows of revenge – a decision to punish the abuser or those like the abuser through manipulation, etc. The vow becomes the mechanism by which the victim navigates the world – they now have something they can trust in.

A vow prevents you from becoming who God made you to be. It injects into your very identity something outside of God’s plan, something that is entirely self-focused and born in pain and extreme emotion. If we simply look at the destructive behavior that manifests as the result of abuse, we will never reach healing. We have to go to the vow and undo its binds. A vow binds a person by perpetuating the abuse. It creates a false reality where the abuse is constant and can never be let go. A vow ensures that the victim will perpetually be a victim.

Sometimes vows are known; the victim is actively and knowingly choosing to live out a decision. They constantly justify behavior. Conscious or not, this is a way of repainting reality. It also secures the victim identity. It sets the person up to be “failed” in every situation, because they are always defending themselves, whether or not attacks are coming, which means in their eyes, they are always being attacked, let down, betrayed, disrespected, etc.

Some people end up ministering out of a vow to make sure their pain would never happen to someone else. This sets you up to work in your flesh and strive against God. The Holy Spirit is the one that enters into us and unpacks our pain and bondage. Many church-attenders in America don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real person of God. If you never experience the Holy Spirit, and only hear others talk about Him in vague terms, then the Holy Spirit can be anything. If you want freedom, you have to seek the Holy Spirit.

How do I recover from what’s happened to me? God has given us something better than what the world has to offer – His Holy Spirit. Through accepting the grace of the sacrifice of Jesus and pursuing the Holy Spirit, our healing is guaranteed. God does not play games nor send us confusing answers.

So what do you do? First, learn to forgive. Forgive your abusers. Forgive God. Forgive yourself. Forgive the countless perceived abuses and slights that come every day. A large part of forgiveness is allowing guilt to rest on the offending party. Also, you must fully realize the depth of the pain and destruction that occurred to you. If you simply think “Oh, they said mean things and shouldn’t have”, you have not realized the depth of the pain, and so are not truly forgiving them for what happened. If you are crushed by the realization that the abuser stole your very identity with their words, now you are truly forgiving them, and ready to undo the lies and chains that resulted from that destruction.

Secondly, you have to admit the weakness you were in at the time of the attack, instead of applying that original incident to your current condition. You have to look at the abuse through the eyes of a child, or with a clear and compassionate eye toward your circumstances at the time of the abuse. This doesn’t just mean your physical prowess or ability to defend or avoid, but also understanding the magnitude of the abuse at that time in your life.

Third, get help from someone that knows about the topic. Seek a body of believers working in their spiritual gifts.

Learn to trust again. If you can never trust God or others, there is no hope for you. You are left with only your own imperfect hands to save you. Trust just a few people that are worthy of trust and start the process.

For more help healing from past pains, please see the books Love: No Strings Attached and Pain and Pretending by Rich Buhler.


TobyMac – “Stories” http://tobymac.com/

NEEDTOBREATHE – “Slumber” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PUGlXzAcp8 http://www.needtobreathe.com/

Additional music:

Enter the Worship Circle – “In this World” Used by permission. www.entertheworshipcircle.com

Shaun Groves – “No Better” Used by permission. https://shaungroves.com/

This episode originally broadcast live on August 14, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:



Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)

019.2 Pain and pretending, pt 4: Violation of trust

God designed the church to help restore damaged individuals through love and the working of spiritual gifts. Man has sanitized this messy process and removed the effectiveness of the church to function in this way. Love should be the church’s response. Sometimes love is gentle and long-suffering, and sometimes it is bold and harsh. In order for love to exist and work, we need vulnerability.

Some people believe that those with physical disorders must not have enough faith to be healed, and this false idea also gets applied to emotional wounds.

There is a prevalence of people abused at an early age by people inside their “circle of trust”. This is the family, the church, the community, the very relationships that make up this child’s world. Young children are “untainted” by the destruction of the world – they have yet to construct false identities or believe an abundance of lies or give their hearts to idols or commit a lot of sins. The church should be seeking to create communities where this circle of trust can remain intact, and these children can become what God made them to be without succumbing to destruction first. If nothing else, we should be seeking to create a very nurturing environment that can minister to even the most heart-wrenching pains.

When a child is hurt by someone in the circle of trust, they immediately seek answers, for needs to be fulfilled. The first need is to be rescued. One of the first effects of abuse is a disintegration of trust in people and God. The victim starts making decisions about themselves and the world around them.

The victim’s search for answers leads to a lot of false conclusions. They accept blame for the abuse. This leads to guilt and shame. This can lead to excuse-making on behalf of other abusive people in their life. They might also reject their “victim-hood” in the incident of their abuse, but act powerless in every other situation in life.

Another common conclusion: the victim is disqualified from God’s love. They don’t believe that God will love them or act on their behalf. This directly guides their sense of self-worth. This leads to them trying to gain “qualification” – they try to strive their way into acceptance, position, control, etc. However, they can never go back in time to redo the situation. The only way out is to face the pain and get healing from God.

Victims also display cyclical patterns of behavior.

Children think and feel in a certain way. Their worldview is directly affected by their vulnerability and sense of trust – by their dependency on others and the needs they have. When adults try to look back on past pains, they can’t reason those situations from an adult perspective. They must humble themselves and accept how the worldview of a child was altered in that moment – that the pain might have been immense for something that appears utterly reasonable to an adult.

Victims must learn to let their abuser have the blame for their abuse. This can be especially hard if the abuser is in the circle of trust and if the abuse was never made known, because a long, drawn-out relationship will have been built over the years, and in many cases, the victim might even love the abuser, or feel indebted to the provision or care the abuser has given to the victim, or might have worked very hard to regain a position of favor with the abuser, to salvage some semblance of relationship.

People really don’t like revisiting past pain. It challenges their functioning sense of reality. And it hurts. It gets messy. That is the reality. It is offensive, and chaotic. It’s like being told to walk through a room full of fire to get to healing. You have to be okay with being weak. This fear of the pain drives people to drugs, escapism, promiscuity, control issues, self-harm, etc. They are simply trying to survive and fulfill the needs that were never met.


John Reuben – There’s only forgiveness http://www.johnreuben.com/

Ben Pasley – Rugged Old Hand, from his album “Residue” http://www.benpasley.com/ and http://entertheworshipcircle.com/

This episode originally broadcast live on August 7, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:



Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)

019.1 Pain and Pretending, pt 3: Setting Captives Free

Most people we encounter are carrying around the weight of unresolved pain from their past. Some people are aware, and some are not. Some pain is caused by cataclysmic events, and some is the result of subtle conditioning over long periods of time. However, most “victims” display similar patterns of behavior. We do not feel you can effectively minister and set captives free without understanding how pain affects people’s lives.

The pain we’re discussing is the pain that attacks your sense of identity, your sense of self worth. It changes how you view your self and the world. While most people recognize lasting effects of pain (PTSD, aversions, etc.), there are pains that are kept hidden or are forgotten, or we never recognize to what depths it has affected our understanding of our selves.

Pain changes what we believe – it subjects us to lies. Anytime something attacks the core of who we are, whether dramatic or subtle, we have to respond. We have to find ways to continue to live with the pain. Many of these ways are destructive and bind us.

The effects of abuse early in your life changes the way you process information, view relationships, your self, and God. Children largely perceive the world through their relationships. When relationship is violated, part of our world and our understanding of the world is destroyed. And anchor of our existance has been removed.

It is vital to understand pain and its effects in a ministry setting. We should not seek to change behavior, but to set captives free. The family, church, and community should all be a safe place for children to live and be nurtured. However, satan wants to destroy, so he infiltrates our families, churches, and communities. He destroys one person at a time. Therefore, if we intervene on a personal level and create nurturing communities of faith, knit together by love, faith, spiritual gifts, discipleship, spiritual authority, then we will truly take part in the work of redemption. Loving, transparent community is in some ways necessary to get free from pain – trusted friends can see your blindspots and your destructive behavior patterns. Spiritual gifts and spiritual warfare are necessary in bringing people to freedom. Understanding how the brain reacts to traumatic events also helps to have compassion on the victim.

Sin causes pain, and pain then causes sin. Pain causes people to distrust God, to protect themselves, to lash out, to believe lies, etc. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and He formed the church as a tool to take part in this. The Law was insufficient to remove sin and heal pain. Grace, in all its fullness, destroys the lies, shame, and guilt that surrounds and perverts us, and allows us to be healed by God. In order to destroy the works of the devil, we have to understand how he’s working.


Beautiful Eulogy – According to God. From their album “Instruments of Mercy” available at www.humblebeast.com. Used by permission.

Jars of Clay – Dead Man (Carry Me) http://www.jarsofclay.com/ http://www.noisetrade.com/jarsofclay/noisetrade-eastside-manor-sessions

This episode originally broadcast live on August 7, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:



Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)