Life coaches.  Personal trainers.  Business mentors.  There’s always somebody trying to sell you their expertise.  But is anybody really an expert in how a life should be lived?

Case in point:  Laurie Ann Martinez, a prison psychologist in California who wanted to move to a safer neighborhood, but her husband wouldn’t agree to move.

So, one day, she and her friend, April Snyder, staged her home to look like a crime scene.  Snyder put on boxing gloves and punched Martinez in the mouth, causing her lip to bleed.  Martinez scraped her knuckles with sandpaper and urinated in her clothes to make it appear that she had been assaulted and knocked unconscious by an intruder.

A co-worker turned her in and her husband divorced her.  Now, ironically, she’ll be moving – but not necessarily to a safer location.  She’s going to jail.

As I started writing this post, it was about people who believe the end justifies the means, but then I re-read my co-writers’ posts for this week and decided to focus on grace and not the infraction.  I wondered what had led this woman – no, strike that – this child of God to leave the right path and fall into the mud.

Then it came to me.

People who feel hurt do hurtful things.

Of course, the prison psychologist had emotional issues, but it didn’t come from a vacuum.  My theory is that her marriage had been in trouble for some time.  It could also have been exacerbated by the hopeless work environment she toiled in, and the futility of trying to improve the lives of prisoners who might never again see the light of day in the real world.

I’m not sure it applies to everyone who’s done something wrong, but if pain begets pain, maybe the antidote is compassion. A small act of kindness that breaks the cycle of pain could set one solitary soul free from a lonely cage.