I recently went to see Equalizer II, which features Denzel Washington as the lead character—he is awesome in this movie, by the way. (Note: Spoiler Alert) The movie starts off on a train car full of gangsters with thick accents. They had just kidnapped a little girl. There are about ten of them in total and only one Denzel. He confronts the leader of the gang with his transgressions and gives him a chance to hand over the girl with no consequences. Of course, this thug is not going to do that because there are ten of them and one of Denzel. So in typical “bad guy” character, the main gangster walks away and leaves his goons to dispose of Denzel. Denzel very aggressively kills all nine of the goons in spectacular fashion and once again sits in front of the gang leader. Then he says the best line I have heard in a while, he says “There are two kinds of pain, a pain that hurts and a pain that alters. Today you have a choice.” Did I mention that Denzel is awesome in this movie?
“There are two kinds of pain, a pain that hurts and a pain that alters. Today you have a choice.” —The EqualizerTweet this!
That line resonated with me because it forces one to answer according to their identity. Are you a victim or a survivor? A glass half empty or glass half full person? Sociologists see it all the time with siblings who grow up in the same broken, abusive families and come out completely opposite. One of them continues the cycle of brokenness and abuse while the other is determined to live the opposite way and do something positive with their life. Pain that hurts and pain that alters.
If you are like me, my entire life can be summed up in one sentence: “It didn’t as planned, and that’s ok!” I’m not talking about physical pain today, I am talking about emotional pain. The “we just found out we lost the baby after trying for ten years” kind of pain. The “my family just found out everyone’s favorite uncle has been abusing all the little girls in family” kind of pain. The “my spouse just left me for another person after 20 years of marriage” kind of pain. The kind of pain that going to hurt emotionally and alter your entire life. How do we deal with that kind of pain?
Jesus suffered through pain that alters. It probably started with a conversation like this: (I am just guessing. Bible historians please do not email me with complaints)
Judas: Hey Jesus, still on for Friday?
Judas: Yeah, the last supper.
Jesus: The what?
Judas: Supper…just normal supper with the fellas.
If you don’t know the rest of the story I recommend that you watch a critically acclaimed movie called The Passion of Christ. It gives a very graphic detail of the kind of pain that alters. One of my most favorite bible verses is Psalms 23:4, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for though art with me, thy rod and staff they comfort me.” If I were not so averse to the pain of a needle I would get this verse tattooed on my ribcage. It has gotten me through so much pain. Even when I felt lonely, I was never alone and never had to go through it alone. You do not have to experience your pain alone either. Take your pain and use it as motivation to life to the fullest.
Allow me to break it down personally for you. Simply put, I am overweight have some health problems as a result. I can let the pain of those problems cause me emotional pain and wallow, or I can let the pain push me to alter my lifestyle. You see, I tried a less painful way to escape. How did it work out? I finished my 14-day diet in exactly 3 hours and 27 minutes (but who’s counting?). That was me giving into a victim mentality. But now… now I am determined. No more fad diets. Instead, I changed my eating habits. I started exercising more. I’m making better decisions.
Did your parents/spouse/sibling/friend/pastor hurt you? I can relate, but I also know that hurt people hurt people. You can wallow in your pain or you can bounce back, shake it off, and let God drag you forward until you are ready to walk with him.
My wife says the most “hurtful” things to me all the time. Things like “Let’s go for a run” and “Try this sugar-free version.” This is the hard part of marriage that most people don’t talk about, but I will love her through this. I said that to say this, through much prayer and faith in God things don’t hurt me as much as they used to. And it’s only because I know who I am in Christ. I turn my pain into praise, and when that happens… lives are altered.