Carmen Elmendorf: It is more painful the second time
It is more painful to fix something broken, than to break in the first place. I broke a finger several months ago! It was a silly accident.
I help rescue dogs by being a foster mom to them. It is an ideal position to be in for a dog lover. The rescue groups pay for all the vetting for shots, neuter or spaying, all medical needs and adoption fees. All I add is food, shelter, love, and the dogs give unconditional love and companionship.
One of my foster dogs was a gentle soul, really. He was calm and loving for a mid-size, strong Rottweiler-mix, but in one instant, as we exited my front gate, the leash wrapped around my left pinky finger as he pulled suddenly to get out. OUCH! I felt the snap of bone and I let go of the leash as the pain shot through my hand. He ran about half-way up the street, then he did the strangest thing -- he stopped, turned around and came back toward me.
The dog noticed that a stranger, from somewhere in the neighborhood, was walking in my direction. The man was harmless, just minding his own business. To my four-legged friend that man posed a threat to me -- his foster mom and his pack leader. The dog came back and stood between me and that man, barking persistently until the man passed us. The dog was very selfless and compliant in the moment, and I was able to grab the leash with ease. It was a wonderful demonstration by my canine companion of loyalty, strength and protection, but I was still left with a very painful, broken finger!
Two other fosters -- a kind gentleman and a sweet lady -- took turns fostering the dog for the remaining weeks. A few weeks later, my big foster boy had already left the state, headed for his rescue group in upstate New York. I was able to say goodbye to him at the transport van. He went to his adoptive, forever home shortly after.
I finally decided to have the finger X-rayed. The fracture was treatable. The finger could be restored to near normal, but the doctor ordered me to wear a splint for six more weeks.
I bought the little device for my finger -- a slightly curved metal brace with a foam insert.
Innocuous enough I reasoned. I had someone help me apply the splint and pull tightly the Velcro ties. At that moment the pain I experienced, by forcing that break back into alignment, far outweighed the pain I felt at the original time of breakage! Excruciating! Putting that bone back into place, basically forcing it to break again to realign the bone, was far more difficult and painful than letting the finger just relax out of alignment.
Isn't that how we deal with offenses? We mess up and just relax, go on and on for days, weeks, years and take no action to correct the matter. We ignore that something is out of alignment in our relationships with one another, even though we feel pain of some sort and, to some degree, we are uncomfortable. Fixing the problem seems like too much trouble and, well, frankly it seems too painful. Apologizing to someone we have offended is uncomfortable; it pains our pride. But pain that adds correction has a healing affect.
Within the pain of correction is the hope of wholeness, and being whole gives freedom to the soul. The second time, while healing, the pain is temporary. The second breakage allows the crooked to be straightened out and it looks better afterward, too. Unlike the original breakage that we ignore, the pain is temporary the second time: That deliberate realignment has a goal to restore us with truth and healing in less time. When we choose to protect our pride and rather accept as normal a disjointed relationship -- just like a finger -- it will remain ugly, crooked, and hurting and always will have long-lasting consequences.
Hebrews 12: 11 NLT -- "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening -- it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."
Psalm 32: 3 NLT -- King David, "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long."
Psalm 32: 5 NLT -- "Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."
Is there something broken in your life that needs mending? Do you want to be healed, restored and whole? Would you like to stop feeling guilty and do you want to feel happy? Follow the advice given in Hebrews 12: 12, 13 NLT -- "So, take a new grip with your tired hands and straighten your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong."
In other words, be a good example of grace, humility and mercy. You may just be the silent hero someone needs -- perhaps someone who is tempted to give up and is tired of living. Resolve to make restitution, to ask forgiveness of someone, or be forgiving to someone. Make the tough choice to endure for a season whatever pains you to restore order; to restore a relationship; to live without guilt or remorse or regret.
"But If we confess our sins to him, [God] he is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." I John 1:9 NLT
Somebody needs to know they are loved -- tell them! Leave this world with nothing left unsaid.
Elmendorf may be contacted at email@example.com