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Acting Out

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has … sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed"1.

Fred is an alcoholic. Betsy is a drug addict. Bernard is a sexaholic. What causes Fred, Betsy and Bernard to act out this way?

Certainly we all have a bent towards sinning because we happen to have a sinful nature. However, in addition we act out in destructive ways because we have been further damaged emotionally (mostly in childhood) through rejection, emotional abandonment, controlling love, and many other ways—the bottom line of which is love deprivation. As a result, we are left in pain, feeling angry, resentful, hurt, fearful, guilty, shame-based, insecure, and so on.

It's the unresolved pain that drives us to act out. We do it to medicate or anesthetize our inner pain and emptiness. One reason an alcoholic drinks, for example, is to deaden the pain of his/her loneliness, hurt or anger, and to avoid facing these painful feelings. The food addict is seeking to fill the empty hole in his/her heart caused by love deprivation. The workaholic keeps forever busy/active to avoid feeling the pain of feeling unloved. The sex addict is not a highly sexual person, but one who uses sex to avoid facing the fact that he/she doesn't feel loved and is looking for love in all the wrong places.

The beginning cure for overcoming these problems is to feel and face one's inner pain and allow it to drive us into recovery. The destructive acting-out ways are symptoms of unresolved inner problems. Among other things, God wants to heal us of emotional blindness so we can see the truth and be healed within—to heal us from the inside out. If we treat only the symptoms—our acting out—this will only lead to increased problems farther down the road.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to see and face every problem I have, deal with it and resolve any hidden causes, and get my 'love cup' (love needs) filled in healthy ways, so I won't seek to deaden my emptiness by acting out self-destructive ways or seek to get my 'love cup' filled with the wrong kind of love. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jesus in Luke 4:18 (NIV)


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.