When an animal is hurt, our instinct is to scoop them up and hold them to take away the pain, especially when it is a beloved pet.  The problem is that the pet, regardless of the previous love and affection it was able to give, will often snap and try to bite you due to the pain.  It isn’t because they feel less affection for you than they did earlier, it is simply because their pain is so intense they can’t help but snap to protect themselves.

I was reminded of this analogy when I began to wonder why I would sometimes snap at my husband when he did the exact same thing that prompted affection and appreciation the day before.  He didn’t do anything different. I was different.  Sometimes I choose to respond out of my pain and fear like a hurt animal, and sometimes I choose to respond out of my spirit and confidence in the person God created.

I could easily come up with a long list of excuses: I am tired, hot, overwhelmed with work.  I don’t need one more statement, question, remark, or demand directed towards me today.  I am full, but the reality is, these are just excuses.  I am not an animal that is confused and scared, and I am not a child that doesn’t have the words to talk about my feelings (1 Corinthains 13:11).  I am an adult in a relationship with someone that I love and trust.

There is no need to push his affection away in fear, anger, or frustration.  If I am tired, I can simply say, “Babe, can you give me a minute.  I am exhausted.  Oh, and I love you.  I’m not mad at you.  I’m just tired.”  Some days, all I can ask for is a hug that turns to tears.  I don’t have to say a word, but he knows that I need him, and I’m not mad at him.  I’m just done for the moment.

I know that all relationships are not built on mutual trust and respect, but this ability to be honest with our feelings gives us the ability to open the door for honesty and discussion instead of fights based on emotions.  It can diffuse arguments before they occur, because we are communicating that we need help not that we are so broken we can’t interact.  This can be scary and overwhelming, because so often we run from these feelings and try to hide them.

The flip side to this is when we see someone we love struggling, we must try to reach past the pain we see and let them know that we still love them (1 Corinthians 13:7).
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m sorry you’re struggling.”
“Do you need a hug?”
“Can I pray for you?”

This is probably the hardest for me, because, like the injured animal, when those closest to me are struggling, I assume I’ve done something wrong.  I withdraw and leave them alone while harboring resentment.  Sometimes people do just need space, but how do you know if you don’t ask?  This is not an easy process for me since I want to pretend that nothing is wrong, feelings don’t exist, and I can handle it on my own. But the reality is that the more I push the pain down, I become like the injured pet.  All it takes is one affectionate touch of love for me to snap, because I’ve not dealt with what is causing the pain.

Let us strive to be more than animals and immature children and reach out to others in our pain so that we can share our walk.  In this process, we will see the need for each other and our unique talents instead of becoming more and more isolated.  Find at least one person you can confide in and treats you with respect regardless of your feelings.  Have confidence in the person God made you to be and the situations that He’s put in front of you so that you see purpose (Psalm 139).  Continue to reach out to others and share the journey of life.  Also, look for others that you can help.  Remind them of the God that loves them despite their pain and self-doubt, and if you’re really brave, offer a hug (Luke 10:27).

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
– Psalm 147:3

 – Written by Kati

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