pain of healing

Forged in the fire, no pain, no gain, that which does not kill me makes me stronger…

I have watched husky-mix Lily closely these couple of weeks as she has recovered from her surgery. She did not do any of the things I prepared for– lick her stitches so avoided the “cone of shame”, cry out, object to the physical therapies I have done to keep her leg limber and exercised. At least not at first.

Her pain has been recent. When I take my other rescue dog, Lulu out for a short walk Lily is left behind. She is feeling better. She doesn’t understand why I am still holding her back from racing to the door if the doorbell rings, bounding down the porch steps to go outside, checking the backyard before bed to ward off the possum that sleeps in one of our trees. Maybe it isn’t painful for her, but for me. I feel badly that I can’t yet allow her to be herself.

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I think we all become complacent sometimes. Then something blindsides us or something we saw coming but hoped wouldn’t, happened. Or we lose someone, in some way– death, divorce, argument –and we are hurting. We sort through what happened and face some truths, which can hurt more than the thing that happened. But that hurt is the beginning of the healing. We are free when we face the realities of it. You can see it for what it is, put it in perspective. Lies hold us in bondage both to the lie as long as we persist in believing it, and the truth that we won’t yet face.

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Years ago I read several books by Dr. Frederick Buechner, a favorite of mine, Telling Secrets. This book illustrated well for me that our secrets are lives we live that no one else sees, and we may fabricate a life that we present to others that we believe is more presentable. But it’s in our secrets that we unlock who we truly are….

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Lately Lily’s resistance to my helping her stretch and exercise her leg has become stronger. This is frustrating for me, likely for her, too. This is to be done 3-5 times each day and as she heals and becomes stronger it’s gone to more like maybe 3 times a day. Thankfully her stitches will be removed this week and I really hope her vet tells me she can be freer in her walking and movement. She has helped me see, though, how it must be when my Father, God, wants to do something for me or through me and I struggle, disobey, assert my own will.

I need to get out of His way and wait for Him. I guess it’s good I have a lifetime to work on this.

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Esse quam videri

So there’s this nature preserve not far from where I live. It was established as a land trust by a gentleman for his daughter who loved nature and the out of doors. There are roughly 2 miles of trails, friendly dogs are allowed to walk off-leash. My 2 rescue dogs Lily and Lulu love it there. In winter we go sometimes twice a day but these summer dog days with temperatures pushing 110 we only go in the morning, very early. We always meet very interesting persons and their dogs when we walk, this week a bicycler who recently moved to the area from Chesapeake, Virginia. We spoke of native southerners vs. northern transplants and shared amusing stories of how difficult it is to change the south to conform to northern ways. Then we wished each other a good day and moved on.

The title of this translates “to be rather than to seem”. It is North Carolina’s state motto, my home. For years growing up in the south with a New Yorker Mother and Colorado cowboy Father my identity was an interesting challenge. I knew who I was, what I liked, but trying to please everyone else? That’s a problem.

Why is it so hard to break conformity? Maybe some people have no problem with it. Maybe they have a very clear focus on what is expected of them and who they are. Maybe because of their virtue and goodness they don’t need to worry about rules. Or maybe they are those strong personalities who simply draw people into their circles and find safety in numbers, even forming new and improved rules, testing the waters until a consensus is formed.

But the consensus needs to be for the greater good. The consensus needs to be something everyone else can aspire to. Like people from other places. They may seem harsh, outspoken, rude, brash, arrogant, whatever. But it’s not fair to determine necessarily a person is what they seem to be. They might just be having a horrifically bad day. Or they make a lousy first impression. Granted, with many people wysiwyg applies (what you see… etc.)

My dad could call a person usually the first time he met them. And for the most part his take could have knocked me down with a feather. Where he saw humility and grace I saw impatience and pushy. But something in that person would give him or herself away to Dad. And he was almost never wrong. The only times he ever did get someone wrong was when he let someone else’s opinion influence him. Usually my mother. She was not often wrong but when she was her error was generally based not on her heart or her gut but a current issue or situation. She seldom allowed this to play with her instincts but once or twice she let it happen and she was truly way off. But she would always admit her error, she never kept up any pretense of righteousness.

So whenever I share an impression or thought with someone I always make it a gentle one. It’s hard not to love others when you know your own fallibility.

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