Finding strength on the other side of pain
We had a dog growing up. He was a carefree, hyperactive Jack Russell, who we called Snoopy. Original, I know. One day our overly excitable dog decided to break loose from his leash, and he ran across a busy street where he was struck by an oncoming vehicle. The impact didn’t kill him, but it did leave him with a broken leg.
The pain of breaking his leg was so severe that he had to be subdued with morphine for a week. He started to regain consciousness as the vets reduced his dosage, but we barely recognized the dog that woke up. Our fun, energetic little Snoopy was now cautious and full of fear. He would snap at anyone who got too close to him. To avoid any pain in his leg, he began walking on three legs instead of four.
fear is crippling
Once his leg healed he still refused to use it. He was so scared of hurting himself that he continued walking on three legs, even when he didn’t need to. I did a bunch of research and found that when a bone is broken, the callus that forms around it causes the bone to become stronger than it was prior to the break. Snoopy’s muscles had shrunk while being in the cast, but I knew that with exercise they would strengthen again. Out of love for my dog and the desire to see him fully healed, I couldn’t sit by and allow him to ignore his perfectly healthy leg. I figured that if he didn’t use it then he’d actually lose it. Everyday I would sit down with him and stretch the leg, showing him that it was safe to put his foot on the ground since he was already healed. It took time, but he trusted me and allowed me to help him to overcome the fear of experiencing pain again.
It takes courage to open that once broken heart and try again, but it’s possible.
My life has sort of paralleled my dog’s life. It seems I am still on that journey of healing and overcoming fear of pain as well.
Fear is crippling. If you’ve ever experienced some form of loss, rejection, disappointment or pain then I know you can relate. You know that feeling when the fear of losing someone or being hurt again starts to creeps in. We respond to the fear in many ways, sometimes we numb parts of our heart or we hide, sometimes we push people away or retaliate in hopes of self-preservation. I have done all of the above. Like Snoopy after the pain of his broken leg, I numbed myself to everything: love, trust, friendship, anything… I thought it’s better if I don’t feel at all than to have to deal with being hurt again. I also hid who I was. I didn’t want to be known out of fear that I would be rejected, that maybe people wouldn’t like what they saw, if they saw the real me.
Just like Snoopy, I had to take time inside a cast, where I allowed God to heal my heart. I was safe with Him. At times I would snap at Him when I felt like He got too close, but He wasn’t scared of me, He wasn’t intimidated by my brokenness. With His love he restored me, He stretched my heart and at times challenged me to take new steps. It takes courage to open that once broken heart and try again but it’s possible.
God's love restores
At the risk of being hurt again, Snoopy was willing to get by on three legs. But that is not what he was created for! He was living out of fear, not thriving in life. You and I can live out of fear as well, shutting down parts of our hearts to survive, but that is not what we were created for! After the surgery, Snoopy had a battle scar. In some ways, my heart has a few battle scars as well. They remind us that we lived, that we endured, that we got back up and lived again.
Experiencing pain isn’t nice, but it’s not entirely a bad thing. We all experience pain at some point, but we can push past the fear of being hurt again, of failing, of being disappointed, and we can put our broken legs on the ground and allow God to stretch us. He is safe, and we can trust Him.
What areas in your life that are causing you to live out of fear? What fear are you facing? What pain are you holding onto that prevents you from trusting God? What one thing do you need support to help you find the strength on the other side of pain?
Share with us your courageous journey and #jointheconversation
You are brave. You are strong. With God there is room for you to find the strength on the other side of pain.