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Anger, Pain, and the Choice to Forgive: Dave & Ann Wilson

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2023 5:15 am

Anger, Pain, and the Choice to Forgive: Dave & Ann Wilson

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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June 21, 2023 5:15 am

Podcast host Dave Wilson directed decades of anger toward the same person. He shares his path from bitterness to the life-altering choice to forgive.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Dave and Ann Wilson at, and on instagram @daveannwilson.

If you're intrigued by this topic, don't miss these FamilyLife Today episodes: How to Forgive (When Bitterness Feels Better)

and How to Forgive Your Dad

Wish you'd heard this talk while getting away with your spouse for a little R and R? Catch FamilyLife's Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise next February!

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Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger

Here's the first thing I learned. This is back in the 80s about anger. People know this now. Nobody's talking about this then, but I discovered this.

It's fascinating. Anger, psychologists call it a second emotion. Not a first emotion, a second emotion.

Anybody heard that? Do you know what it means? When you're experiencing something in your life that you should have an emotional response to, but that emotional response is uncomfortable for you or you don't know how to handle it, often we skip right past it to anger. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Before we get started today, we got to let people know that the Love Like You Mean It cruise that's going to take place in February is probably going to sell out this week. It's so fun.

I hope as you listen to this, you'll start thinking and praying like, can we do this? Because it's so good, and it's so good for your marriage. Yeah, you get to go on a vacation on a boat in the Caribbean, but the whole week you're listening to marriage talks and speakers and comedians and it's really fabulous. And trust me, I'm not a cruise guy.

That wouldn't be my first choice, but this is my first choice and it should be yours as well. You can go to and search for cruise and sign up. I'm not kidding. It will sell out in the next couple of days. And so if you don't jump on it right now, you may miss really a chance to really change your marriage and have fun while you're doing it with us on the boat. We're going to be there. It's going to be fun. I'm going to get my little bald head tanned.

That's what I'm going to do. February of 2024. It's going to be great. All right, so what are we talking about today? Yeah, I'm pretty excited because once in a while, we'll listen to a sermon that's been given. And I love this sermon.

One of the reasons I love it is because you gave it and you're one of my favorite speakers. But I think the other reason I'm really excited about this is because you talk about anger and dealing with your anger and how God really restored you, but really restored our family and our marriage because anger was permeating our home. And you were humble enough to really ask God to get rid of this anger or to help you deal with it. Yeah, there's a message I gave at a church in Detroit recently on forgiveness. And there were many years, decades in my life that I did not realize that the anger that I was bringing into our marriage was connected to not forgiving my dad. So this message is for somebody else today as well, because I had to go on a journey. And if you haven't gone on that journey, maybe today is the start of it. We are talking about something I don't want to talk about, because when Chris texted me months ago, he goes, dude, your topic is forgiveness.

I'm like, no, no. Because, you know, when you talk about forgiveness, you think I'm going to be preaching to you. I'm preaching to me. Because here's the truth.

You guys know this. Every relationship, every relationship in your life, whether you're married or a parent or a neighbor or a workplace, you name it, has conflict. Am I right? A few months ago, my wife Anne and I were here. And I know some of you, most of you are really disappointed I'm here without her, because it's so much better when Anne's here. But anyway, we are here talking about vertical marriage. And, you know, we talked about conflict, but every relationship has conflict.

And you ready for this? Every relationship needs to forgive. In fact, I wrote one of my first thoughts today is without choosing forgiveness, all relationships eventually die. You're going to hurt someone. They're going to hurt you.

Am I right? And most of the time they hurt you because they're just losers. You know, they're just, they're bad people.

You're not bad. We never hurt anybody, but other people hurt us. And so we have to choose forgiveness. And I tell you what, it's part of marriage. It's part of neighborhoods.

It's part of, trust me, it was big time in Detroit Lions locker room. All right. You hurt people. You need to forgive. It's just like, that is part of life.

Anne and I, you know, when you hear us speak, you know, we're pretty real. We had a fight this week. I mean, it got so bad, she came crawling to me on her hands and knees. I'm not kidding. And she said, Dave Wilson, get out from underneath that bed and fight like a man. So anyway, that's a typical marriage joke.

But no, we just like you have to apologize at times. In fact, I don't know if we shared this months ago in the vertical marriage series, but years ago, I don't know what year it was. But I think our boys, we have three sons now are married and have kids. So we have six grandkids.

And so they're out of the house, but I think they're still in the house. And it's 1130 at night on a Sunday night and we're crawling into bed late. And if you know anything about my life back then on the weekends, especially during the fall and this during the fall, weekends were crazy. I coach high school football on Friday night at Rochester Adams. Saturday, I have to be at the team hotel with the Lions. If we have a home game, if we're on the road, I'm on the road with them, but we are home. And so I speak to the team Saturday night. And then that's after already preaching at church Saturday night.

Then we had three services on Sunday and I preached there. And then I literally got to drive 90 miles an hour, not kidding, to Ford Field to be on the sideline for the Lions, put on my sideline gear, be at the game. We lose, I come home. All right, you caught that joke. The first service, it went right over.

They didn't even catch it, but we probably did lose. Anyway, so I come home and it's 1130 at night on a Sunday night. And just from that, you can get an idea of what I'm like. I am fried. And it's like, I'm exhausted. And so when you choose to bring up something, wives, can I just give you a little advice? Don't do what Ann did that night. If she were here, she would say, yeah, I picked a wrong moment. But she says to me, I mean, literally half my body's under the sheets. I'm laying my head on the pillow and she just casually says, you know, man, I so wish the guy who led our church lived here.

And it was sort of like camouflage like that. I was like, what? She goes, man, I watched you this morning at church and you're on fire and you pray like you have a relationship with God and you cast vision and you leave.

And then you come home and you're just no energy. I just wish the guy you were at church is the guy I was married to. And I would love to tell you that I responded so maturely. You know, the way a spiritual man should respond, I did not respond well. I'm not going to tell you everything I said, but I'll give you enough of it so you get the gist.

So I just looked at it. I'll never forget. I go, are you kidding me? I meet with guys in my church and they're just like, they're losers at home.

You got the best husband in the whole church living right here, baby. You're looking at them. Something like that. How do you think that went over?

Not well. And so the next morning, you know, we sort of, that's how it sort of ended. And I woke up the next morning, I'm sort of in my home office and I just sort of sat with God. And I realized what she was really saying is, man, you bring energy to the public and little of that to home. You come home and you're just too tired to give us the energy all the congregation gets. And I felt like God said, I spoke to you through your wife.

And you know what? Of all the places that you as a man or as a woman, as a husband for me and a dad, a wife, a mom, the most important place to bring the energy, it's more important than anything else is your home. I'm not saying your work doesn't matter. It matters.

It really matters. But man, if you're bringing it there or not here, and I remember feeling convicted like, she's right. I need to step up at home. And my boys are still in the home and now they're all gone. And that day, the next day I had to, it's too late to apologize.

Too late! I had to apologize because she was right. You know, but here's the thing. In relationships, you're going to have to forgive because you're going to hurt one another. Every relationship, marriage, you name it, you're going to hurt one another. And you're going to be hurt and you're going to have to forgive. Ruth Bell Graham, Billy Graham's wife, said, maybe you've heard this quote, a great marriage is comprised of two great forgivers. That's what makes great relationships. You're going to hurt.

They're going to hurt. You need to forgive. And it's not easy. That's why today I'm not just preaching to you. I'm preaching to me.

I've been hurt many times in my life and even recently. And I'm on a journey. I met with my counselor on Wednesday in Grand Rapids and Greg's like, so what are you preaching on this weekend?

He goes, no. And he looked at me as only a wise man can do and says, you know, your forgiveness issues in the present are connected to your forgiveness issues in your family of origin, right? Let's connect.

If you've never sat with a trained Christian counselor, you need to because you need to process stuff. And so I'm going to get the sort of process with you today. How's that sound? So here we go. You know, you think about this statement that Jesus made that this whole series is about. And I'm going to read it to you.

The context. It's in the Book of Luke. It's actually in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All four gospels are sort of eyewitness accounts of the end of Jesus' life, his whole life, but now the end of his life. Luke 23.

I'll read it to you. It says, two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. You know, a few years ago, Ann and I got to go to this place. We did a vertical marriage, marriage tour at the Holy Land.

It was incredible. So we stood right where this happened. And look what happens. Verse 34 says, Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Jesus is on his cross. He's looking at these people and he looks to heaven. He says, Father, forgive them. Now, what had they done?

Well, you can learn a little bit of what they've done in the next part of the passage. So the people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, he saves others.

Let him save himself if he is God's Messiah, the chosen one. So they're sneering at him. The next verse says, the soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, if you are the king of the Jews, save yourself. So they're literally laughing and sneering and mocking him. Oh, yeah, you're the king of the Jews. Let's see you do something, dude.

It goes on. There was a written notice above him which read, this is the king of the Jews. And again, that's mocking him as well.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him. Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us. So think about this. He's hanging on the cross because these men and women put him there. And I hate to tell you, but you and I are in the story.

Because if we had been there, we'd probably done the same thing. When you study crucifixion, when you study scourging that Jesus went through before he was hung on that cross, you are blown away by what happened to the human body. And I don't have time to get into it, but there are books, doctors have written, they've studied cadavers. What happens to a body when you scourge it 39 times, which he probably got scourged 39 times.

It's a flag rim. It's a whip with leather and they tie metal and bone and sharp objects to it. And they rip it down the victim's back. And they've done that to cadavers.

What happens to the human body? Again, I'm not going to get into it, but his organs were exposed at like, you know, whip number 10 or 12. His lungs are punctured.

Blood is spilling everywhere. It's crazy what he went through. Again, I don't have time to make us feel that, but just suffice it to say they beat the living hell out of him. And he did it so you and I don't have to go to hell. And he never whimpered.

Not one whimper. So he's hanging on that cross after the scourging. And by the way, the way a person died usually in crucifixion is not by loss of blood or punctured lung. It's by suffocation. They would pound spikes through their ankles or feet, through their palms or wrists. And then when they'd throw them up, they would dislocate their shoulders. And the only way they could breathe is to push off that spike and get air in. And so after they got exhausted, they would die. So there's Jesus with all of that agony, looking at the men and women that did that to him.

And what does he say? Father, forgive them. I don't know if you're anything like me, but I don't think I could do that. If I was on that cross and I was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and I had the power to blast them out to smithereens. I know my heart would be like, God, give them what they deserve. You know what they're doing now, smite, gone.

It'd be a great movie, wouldn't it? That's what I would have done. That's what's in here. And if you want to know what the heart of God is like, just look at this moment. Because Jesus is revealing to you and I the heart of the Father, his Father, our Father, the Heavenly Father. Jesus said, if you've seen me, Phillip, you've seen the Father.

I and the Father are one. So if you ever want to know what God's heart's like, all you got to do is look at Jesus. And in this moment, he displays to all of us what he thinks of you and me and them in that moment. He says, I forgive you for your sin. I literally forgive you for what you're doing to me right here, right now. How in the world does Jesus have the power to do that?

Here's how. He has a different heart than we do. His is not a human heart. It's a divine heart. And he's not full of sin like you and me. We get hurt by someone, we want payback. It's the human condition. Jesus gets hurt by humans and he says, Father, forgive. You're listening to Family Life Today and that's one of my favorite preachers, Dave Wilson.

It better be. I wonder if some people hear that and they think, well, Jesus can forgive them, but I'm only a human. Well, the good thing is that's only the first part of the message. Yeah, that's true.

Because that's what we all think. But the beauty of the gospel is when we commit and surrender to Jesus, we get his heart. And we literally get his resurrection power in us to do what we could never do. We could never forgive in our own strength. And he says, I know you need me and I'll give you my power to forgive.

And that's where it starts. And honestly, Dave, I feel like you're a different person than you used to be. Because that anger lingered and permeated our home. It wasn't overnight, but you have become a different person. Which is, we are all now new creatures in Christ. Yeah, and the next part of the message is digging into that anger.

So this is important for us to learn. And so this week, and I tell you, I've preached on this many times over 40 years of ministry. But this week, God took me on a unique journey. It's like, okay, I want to go to the Bible and I want to ask this question. Where's like the first time, it's called the law of first mentions. Where's the first time it's mentioned in the Bible where a person had to make a choice between anger and getting somebody back or forgiveness? You don't have to go very far in the Bible.

First book, Genesis, first children born to Adam and Eve. Anybody know their names? Cain and Abel. You probably know those names. Maybe you don't know why you know those names.

Well, it's pretty famous what happened to them. You know, you've got Cain who's sort of a farmer and you've got Abel who's sort of a shepherd of animals. And they make an offering to God based on what God had told them. We don't know exactly, but God says, I accept Abel's offering. I reject Cain's offering.

And now we have civil rivalry, right? And I'm giving you just sort of a back story. But you go to chapter four of Genesis and here's what it says. It says, so Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. It's interesting, in the Hebrew, the original language, it says Cain was kindling anger and his face was anxiety and depression.

Downcast. You ever notice how when people are mad, you can see it on their face? You ever notice that? You know, somebody walks in your house and they're like, you're like, I think you're mad. It's all over their face.

It's there. And so right here, Cain is showing it, not just in his anger, but on his face. Said, then the Lord said to Cain, why are you angry?

Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will not you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it. I got to tell you, I've read this passage before. I probably taught on it 40 years ago.

I never caught something I caught this week. And actually, I caught it when we had Lisa Turkers in our studio with Family Life Today. By the way, if you want to listen to stuff about relationships and how forgiveness, let's start listening to Family Life Today on any Apple podcast. So Lisa Turkers wrote a book called Forgiving What You Can't Forget, and she identified something I've never seen before. You realize that Cain is so mad at Abel, he wants to do what? Kill him. Does he kill him? Yeah, some of you know your Bible. He eventually kills him.

But here's what I never saw before. Before he kills his brother, what happens? God comes to him.

We're reading it right here. God comes to him and says, hey Cain, hold on. It's like, hit the pause button. He says, why are you angry?

Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? So he's saying, you have a choice right here. I know you're angry. I know you're filled with anxiety. You're consumed with it.

You lay in bed at night and you think about it. I'm going to take him out. I'm going to take him out. He says, stop, stop, stop, stop. Answer this question.

Why are you angry and why are you filled with anxiety and consumed with depression? He says, if you do the right thing, it'll go well. But sin is crouching at your door.

It desires to have you, but you must rule over it. You know what he's saying to Cain? You can win this anger problem.

But if you don't, it's going to go bad. And the reason all of us in this room that have ever read the Bible know the name of Cain and Abel is because he killed him. He didn't do well. And a lot of us think when we get angry, we don't have a choice. It's going to end badly. God says, no, anger is actually an emotion given by me.

It can actually go right or it can go wrong. The power for that is in your choice when you're angry. So then I'm like, okay, what do I teach heritage?

I want to talk about, let's answer this question. Why are you angry? This, by the way, you need to teach your kids. I watched my wife teach my kids when they were 12, 13, 14 when they're getting angry, say, let's stop. Let's ask the question, what's going on here?

And you know, most people are like, what do you mean what's going on here? There's a reason you're angry. In fact, all anger is plugged into something.

All anger is plugged into something. And so what I'm going to try and do, and I'm going to try and do it really quick, is walk you through something that took place in my life about 30 years ago. My wife said to me one day in the kitchen, we had little kids at the time. Our oldest now is 37, so we had little boys in the home. I can remember, it was the first house we lived in in Michigan.

We're now in our second house, we've been there 30 years, but I can remember her walking over to me in the kitchen. We were in a fight. You think all the Wilsons do is fight, right? That's all I tell you is about our fights.

We actually have good days too. But anyway, we're in some kind of fight and I was getting loud and big and she turns to me, I'll never forget this. She says, you know what?

Every time we fight, that's what you do. You just blow up. I'm done.

I'm not going to bring up anything anymore because it's worthless. You just blow up. And she turns and walks toward the sink. And as she turned, I can see her walking away. And here's what I do. She walks away and I don't even, I'm so naive. I don't even realize I do this. I go, oh no, I don't. What are you talking about? Just like that. And she just turned and went, exhibit A. You just did what I'm talking about.

And it was so apparent, I was like, I did. Why am I yelling? And again, I don't have time to get into it.

I put this in vertical marriage if you want to get more into it, but I'll do this very quick. I went on a study of anger. You know why? I realized I was an angry man. It was under the surface. A lot of people never saw it. But the most important people in my life, my wife and kids, saw it. If Anne were here right now, she did this last weekend. We did a marriage conference in Ohio. And she brought this up on stage.

It wasn't in our notes. She wasn't allowed to do this, but she brought it up. She goes, yeah, I remember one day walking out into the garage and Dave had a hammer and he was hitting the lawnmower and kicking it. And she goes, I just walked in.

Like, that's the man I'm married to. Your lawnmower won't start and you're trying to do an exorcism like Satan's in it. She was just looking at me like, you don't see this? This is not normal. It's a lawnmower. It needs a spark plug or something.

But I couldn't see it. So I started to study anger. I'm going to give you a quick course in anger. All right.

You ready? Here's the first thing I learned. This is back in the 80s about anger. People know this now. Nobody's talking about this then, but I discovered this. It's fascinating. Anger psychologists call it a second emotion, not a first emotion, a second emotion.

Anybody heard that? Do you know what it means? I didn't know what it means.

I'm studying it. It's like, what do you mean by that? Here's what it means. When you're experiencing something in your life that you should have an emotional response to, but that emotional response is uncomfortable for you or you don't know how to handle it, often we skip right past it to anger. I didn't even know I was doing this.

Here's a couple of examples. Like emotional hurt is an emotion that a lot of us are uncomfortable with. Some are comfortable with it and they deal with it.

Others, like me, skipped it. And I went right to anger and didn't even know. And I'm not going to be too general here, but there's a difference often how men handle emotional hurt compared to women. Women, when they're emotionally hurt, they're better at it.

They process it. They let their emotions out. Some guys will tell me, I walked in the house and my wife's sitting on the couch and she's crying. I'm like, what's wrong? And she's like, man, I just, I'm dealing with this thing. And it's just, you know, she's emoting.

Now, wives, let me ask you, have you ever walked in the house and your husband's sitting on couches? You're like, what's wrong? I feel hurt emotionally. No, probably hadn't happened.

It should happen. It's a good thing, but it doesn't happen for men because we grow up like big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry.

It's the biggest lie in the world. We should cry, but we don't. We go, break anger. I had all kinds of family of origin trauma and hurt that I had never processed at all in my life. And I'm in marriage now thinking, oh, we're all good.

Nope, we're not good, especially me. And Ann had sexual abuse and hurt past found. We bring that into marriage.

We had never processed it. And so here I am skipping right past the emotional hurt and just everybody around me gets anger. You're listening to Family Life Today, and that's Dave talking about anger in a recent sermon that you gave, which was powerful. Honestly, even as I hear that now, you know what I feel? I feel hurt for you because I didn't see it then. I mean, these are first 10 years or 15 years of our marriage, but I was really hurting you with my anger.

And then when we had the three boys, it was coming out toward them. I mean, now I listen to them like, man, I'm so thankful that God took us on our journey, both of us really, to process the trauma and our wounds to a place of forgiveness. And we're only halfway through the message, but man, as I hear that, I want to say I'm sorry. As I look at you, it's like, man, I really hurt you. When I listen to that, I also think it'd be a great conversation to have with a spouse or even ask your kids, do you guys think I'm angry a lot?

I know that that's a risky question to ask, but I think it's important because sometimes if we're the angry person, we don't always see it because we've lived with it our whole lives. I mean, I love your apology. I appreciate that, and you apologized to me back then too, but man, I've seen God do so much in you.

Yeah, I almost wonder if there needs to be some apologies in homes tonight, men to their wives, maybe wives to their husbands, to our kids. But let me tell you, don't miss tomorrow because we're only halfway there. How does God heal those wounds? How does God help us process anger, and how does God get us to forgiveness? That's tomorrow.

Yeah, I know that for me, anger was such a huge part of my life for so long, and I didn't recognize how much it was not only damaging to me and my relationship with my wife, but my relationship with my kids, my relationship with my friends, people in my church. I really appreciated this message today from Dave Wilson. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson on Family Life Today. I love the Wilsons. I have spent lots of great time with them, and I'm super excited because Dave and Anne are going to be with us this year in February of 2024 on the Love Like You Mean It cruise. Now, we expect for this cruise to sell out this week.

That's right. It's Wednesday. We're expecting it to sell out by the time we reach Friday, so we'd love it if you'd hurry if you want to join us. It's going to be from February 5th through the 11th next year, and it'll feature some of the best speakers and Christian entertainers in the world today.

If you're looking for a unique and unforgettable marriage experience that'll give you time to rediscover the romance in your life, this is it. Don't let the demands of life and busyness right now keep you from reconnecting with each other and with God, more importantly. So you can go online to, or you could give us a call to reserve your spot at 800-358-6329. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now, if the cruise does sell out this week, don't let that stop you from calling and getting your name on a waiting list for the cruise in the future.

Now, if that ends up being your case, we could still all but guarantee you and your spouse a spot on the Love Like You Mean It cruise. So again, go online or give us a call at 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now, tomorrow we're gonna hear again from Dave and Ann Wilson as Dave speaks again about the element of anger and forgiveness, helping us understand that God first forgave you, therefore we should forgive others. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-21 06:22:54 / 2023-06-21 06:35:50 / 13

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