Triggered!

arrowsTriggers come in a variety of ways. I recently had the experience of being triggered by someone’s behavior that took me back to a painful place, causing me distress. To someone else, who does not have my past, it would be nothing perhaps. But to me, the situation flooded my soul with pressure, old anxiety, and a rush of blood to my heart, flushing my face. I thought, “What should I do?”

What Triggers You?
Do you have instances, times of painful remembrance that trigger you? An argument between a couple in a neighboring apartment, a parent who is offering too much advice, an impatient person, the testimony of someone who has overcome an addiction, the story of abuse recounted by the victim, a liar, an angry person, attending church? These and many other circumstances can take us back to a very painful place in our lives that brings us anxiety, doubt, and fear. BTW: Satan loves this! The more He can incite these emotions in you, the more it keeps you on ice, a bit frozen, unable to move into God’s provision and the future He’s designed for you.

I believe all people “trigger” to some degree, some of the differences in how we respond involve the degree of trauma suffered, denial, or the hunger with which we have pursued healing.

In the example of my trigger-induced-situation, I was able to recognize it for what it was and responded respectfully, not holding the unknowing person responsible for my past. Rather than blaming them for my internal response, I chose to respond through what I’ve learned. While the physiological responses to temporary stress were evident, they dissipated (my blood pressure normalized) and I could move on.

Time can heal some things, but learning how to deal with past offenses takes aTalking diligent pursuit of healing from God.

Often, relationships never mend because it takes desire and skill to navigate these waters; and some feel the relationship is just not worth the effort. Humility is a big part of healing. Recognizing that we all have sinned in some way against others helps us see how important mercy is.

Freeing ourselves from offense through forgiveness is something we can do. Additional action may also be needed. You can ask God to bring justice; He does this in ways we may never know of. He has also placed civil authorities (Romans 13:1-5) in our world to deal with law breakers.

Who Do You Trigger?
Many of us can sense when someone is causing us distress but we may have a hard time recognizing when we do the same to others. We are reminded in Philippians chapter 2 that we are to look out for the needs of others, not simply our own. Paul uses Jesus as our example in these verses. It’s true, we don’t see how often we cause pain to someone without realizing it. We are fortunate when we have the kind of relationships with others that allows for freedom, a loving-exchange of the heart, to where you can talk about these things. This honest communication works toward healing (Ephesians 4:15).

Our Healer
There are many circumstances that God uses in our lives to help us see the condition of our soul, our inner-man. As our creator and the lover of our souls, God the Father wants us to experience what He designed at creation: oneness with Him and others. Jesus came for that purpose; the Father sent Him to bring that about. He desires that we are made whole, fully integrated with Him, finding a place of peace. From there we can move forward into relating well with each other.

Freedom from the past
Think about who or what you have turned to for relief from your internal triggers?

FALSE solutions
I’d like to encourage you to be aware of the traps that are laid, by your very real enemy, to ensnare you into a false way of overcoming the past. This list seems innocuous enough at first, and you may feel very good inside from switching up to new people, places, and things… but please do not make the mistake of substituting them for the real solution.

Offended (2)1. People (Relationships): When we have had a poor or failed relationship in our past, we often believe that trying again and succeeding will cover the pain. Please be careful here. Unless you seek full disclosure within your own soul and receive healing from the past, this will only increase and multiply your issues. Don’t allow another human being to become a surrogate for God in your life.

pendulumPeople are prone to react to their past by jumping onto the pendulum and swinging it as far to the other side as possible. Overcompensating, compromising your beliefs and standards, and living out of character in a desperate attempt to normalize life, will only bring more pain down the road.

2. Places (Moves): Starting over feels good. Moving to a new location, thinking that you’re leaving the pain behind isn’t the solution. Many people change something up in their lives thinking this will offer relief. How many people have you known who attempt to find relief through some physical change, a new town, school, workplace, church? Changing locations does not change your heart and it may further complicate the situation.

3. Things (Possessions): Gaining ownership or control over things (or people) can lead to addiction if our soul is not healed. We are a society full of addiction and no one is immune from this temptation.

Looking for comfort in good things from God like food and work can become addictions if we’re not careful; habitually going to any-thing other than God is dangerous. Look at the massive time-consuming addictions of our Addictionday: social media, fake relationships, texting, sexting, pornography, gossip, gambling, gaming, shopping, drugs, alcohol, workaholism, and numerous other self-destructive behaviors, these come easily to a soul that is lacking fulfillment.

Things cannot replace the peace that God offers and the contentment found in a life centered in Him.

(Note: If we are availing ourselves to needful help and proper counsel there are times that changing people and places can serve as a good buffer for a season while actively working our side, especially where major abuse has occurred.)

Grace and Mercy

So today, will you consider what God might have you learn about yourself? Look within, rather than without at what others have done, or are doing, and realize that you decide your future. Will you be focused upon growing in grace and God’s mercy and love toward others or continuing to live in your past, the pain, the offense. Yes, triggers are real, but they do not have to control us. Our response when we are triggered is determined by the progress we’re making through God’s healing power within.

When Jesus was headed toward the cross, he knew his disciples would face difficult, traumatic experiences and so He had an important discussion with them (found in John chapters 14-15). He reminded them that their joy, confidence, and peace would come from the Father through the Spirit. He introduced them to the Comforter— whom He said would be able to take up residence inside of them. Wow! and it’s the same for us… we will face difficulties but let us be wise; pursue healing from God for ourselves and then, in turn, extend it toward others.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Reading: Forgive & Live! may be of help.

Fear Not! or should I?

sparrowFear is something we gain or lose, depending on our ability to trust God and His power to redeem our circumstances.

It was about twenty-one years ago a pastor-leader, who I have learned much from, took a group of men to Armenia to meet with some pastors and their wives from Iran. They met secretly in this neighboring country to avoid the dangers that this meeting would pose to the Iranian Christians. In this meeting, a man who had been arrested by the authorities in the late ’90s told his story of overcoming fear.

The young pastor was imprisoned and the Iranian guards were getting ready to execute him for continuing to share the gospel in his homeland, after being warned not to. Before execution, the custom is to shave the head of the “criminal”. This had occurred and he knew that soon he would be taken from his cell and put to death. While pondering this and thinking of his family he became very distraught, wondering why God would let this happen. Then the Holy Spirit reminded Him that he was being counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake and that he should rejoice instead. When the scripture in Matthew 5:10-12 came alive to him, he began to rejoice and sing and dance in his cell. The guards, surprised and troubled over his actions, called their supervisor. They ended up releasing him because they were so troubled over the fact that he was rejoicing that he would be put to death for Christ’s name and for His glory – they would not allow it!

To Fear or Not…

When Jesus gathered His twelve disciples, He gave them instructions, as recorded in Matthew 10. He told them not to be afraid because our Father cares for His own. Jesus uses the example of a sparrow falling to the ground, He told them of God’s awareness of this and that we should not fear because our value to Him is much more important than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:26 “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! 28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[j] 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin[k]? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. 32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”

Jesus indicates that His followers are precious to our Father. These disciples needed to understand that they belong to Him, they’ve been adopted and have become His children. This relationship is reciprocal, it involves fidelity on both sides; God the Father toward us and us, His disciples, to Him. Jesus reassured these believers that they who possessed this relationship need not fear.

Many live in fear but fear the wrong things.

What about you?

Are you able to see God as your Father who dearly loves you? If not, Find someone who you know honors God and humbly begin a discussion with them. Many are going about living as though there will never be a day of reckoning. Do you wait for something tragic to happen before you consider you’re relationship to God? Has this pandemic caused you to think more earnestly about your life, your mortality? It should, but don’t stop there.

Some people do not realize that there will be a day of judgment when we will ALL stand before God and give an account for our lives. Conversely, there are those who have once known the gospel and are now living in rebellion to God’s will; they will suffer much loss. They are the ones Peter warned about (2 Peter 2:20-22) who once knew God but turned away to fulfill their own lusts, living according to their own desires. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV)

Human pride and arrogance defy God’s rightful place in our lives. This attitude of indifference toward our Creator is dangerous and damning. Rather than reckoning with our lost condition as humans, some take the attitude that James describes in chapter 4:13-15: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

An illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depicts the 2019 Novel CoronavirusOur current pandemic…

Living through this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 coronavirus should cause us to pause and consider our lives. How are you doing with yourself? Are you at peace and content being alone or contained with your family? What are you truly living for? If everything ended today, would you carry regret when standing before God and having everything in your life made known? Or would you be ready and thankful for the years you were given? What is the substance of your life?

Perhaps you are stuck in a place you never thought you would be. When you look at your life you wonder, “How did this happen to me?” Your gradual slide into the muck began with some offense, a loss, a divorce, a sinful relationship, an addiction; these situations can leave us feeling displaced, removed from a sweet-spot we once enjoyed. Then along comes a confining situation that exposes us to ourselves: a quarantine of sorts. Remember the young pastor with his head shaved and the gallows prepared? Or think of Sampson, tied to the pillars of the temple, disgraced and being made fun of (Judges 16:28-30). Had God forgotten them? God has a way of bringing hope to any situation. His perspective causes us to see differently. He has the power to turn things around for His glory if we will allow Him to.

DSC06758I spent nine months in Romania going through my own pregnancy of sorts, the process of adopting our four children. At times it was very uncomfortable, I suffered physically, and it felt very restricting — I was contained in a foreign land. I thought the main purpose of this experience was adopting our four children, yet God used that time to create in me a new level of faith and understanding of His faithfulness.

I hope this containment time will cause you to reflect upon your situation, and where you are in life. Let us consider where we stand with God. Think about: What is most important in my life? Whom or from what do I draw comfort? Am I obeying His call upon my life or denying Him by living for my own desires.

He’s giving us time to reflect during the coronavirus and giving us the grace to receive His gift. Will you spot Him during this time and receive what He offers? If you do, humble yourself and initiate change by making things right with those you’ve wronged. This is the first evidence of a sincere turning away from self, to God. Your act of building a relationship (as much as depends upon you) with someone you’ve avoided will open the door for God to pour blessings into your life. Then you can confidently say, I will not fear because I belong to God.

Photo Credit: Pixabay, CDC

Painful Pasts – Part 2

pexels-photo-712413In Part 1, we looked at the importance of holding onto God’s Hand as we walk through the process of healing from a painful past. Here, we’ll look at the importance of a renewed mind in this process. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Heart/Soul/Mind: We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. So how does someone love God with their mind? How is it possible? We are told in scripture by Jesus himself to do this; and this is how we find the abundant life He offers us (Matt. 22:37).

Our Past: When we suffer from a painful past, something negative has occurred and we find ourselves circling back to that event (consciously or not) because it has lodged within us. Of course, everyone’s past contains both good and bad memories. For some, the bad causes fear, anxiety and often changes the way we interact with others. Can these instances that have harmed us be used somehow by God as a useful tool? Indeed, there are examples in scripture that indicate this. Joseph is a good example of someone who suffered much and was used by God because of his obedience. He delivered his family from starvation, while also teaching them what forgiveness looks like (Read Genesis Chapters 37-50). You too can be used by God as a result of your painful past.

Step 1: Brain Cleansing
In order to overcome our “triggers” and turn them around on our enemy to be used for God’s glory instead, we must renew our mind so that we can think rightly and then act accordingly. His powerful Word is what accomplishes this for us. Perhaps you’ve tried reading it before and you cannot lay hold of what I’m saying or even believe it contains the power to transform your mind. Please believe me, it does, and you will need to explore for this yourself — ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and He will. The more you douse your mind in the inspired Word of God, the more you will think according to your Creator’s design for you. That is when miracles happen! I am a living testimony to the transformative power of God’s Word to do this.a-2729794__480

In order for us to rebuild, we need the Holy Spirit to cleanse and refresh our minds, as well as our bodies that have been affected by the constant chemical dumps from stress. Neurologically we need renewal, a shift in the pathway that our brain has been following. Through the hormones and chemicals in our brains, we have laid down some counter-productive ways of dealing with life and we need to lay a new path. You already know this, so now begin to take action to change your brain.

Here are some helpful scriptures on renewing your mind: Luke 12:29-31, Romans 7:21-25, Ephesians 4:22-24, Proverbs 16:3. Journaling scripture and your thoughts help as well.

Step 2: Antidote for Anxiety
Have you suffered from a traumatic event, years of oppression, abuse, manipulation, or something significant that has altered your view of yourself in an unhealthy way? Do you find you become like jelly when you need to express yourself, rather than being able to say what you really feel? Perhaps when you attempt to talk with a person associated with the pain all that comes out is frustration and anger? There’s help for you. It can be difficult to step back and see these behaviors for what they are. Depending on what has occurred and for how long, the fear factor can be overwhelming; trusting again can feel impossible. Many fall into sinful lifestyles after these events, not because they want to, but because they feel incapable of  overcoming these feelings.

If you have not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ, then this is the beginning of your journey to freedom. Next, renewing your mind in God’s Word daily and obeying what it says, is how you gain the Holy Spirit’s authority and power within. You are no longer simply a human being living your life alone, vulnerable in this world, rather through redemption, you are transformed into a Child of God. You receive family benefits (and a powerful elder Brother named Jesus) from this transaction, but you must learn how to lay hold of these gifts. They are there for you, and you need to realize that and appropriate them.book-2617987__480

Look up these scriptures on fear and apply them to your life – they are part of the family benefit package: 2Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 12:28 & 13:6, 2Peter 1:3-4, 1John 4:18-21, Psalm 56:10-13 (the Psalms are filled with passages about not fearing people). These are just a few samples, there are many more. Advance your mission and search!

Step 3: Remove Double-mindedness
I am thankful that people cared and reached out to help me during my early days of recovery and much double-mindedness! They carefully walked me out of the prison cell I was living in. It did not happen overnight and God led me to various people who helped. The trauma was deep and there were layers of conditioning and painful places that needed to be dealt with. I was very fearful and filled with anxiety about many things. This fear manifested in pride and an overly self-protective attitude and left me in a very double-minded condition emotionally.

One example of fear I experienced early was going through the process of counseling with a couple who were trying to help me. Their focus was marriage counseling in order to work toward reconciliation. I later realized that this situation was premature and in my thinking I was being asked to trust an untrustworthy person. I felt vulnerable and was constantly battling between my position in-Christ as His child and submission to this person who had dealt treacherously with me. I realized later that sin needed to be brought into the light, acknowledgment of the secrets involved was needed (confession), and a reasonable determination if true repentance occurred was needed. With out exploring if godly sorrow (2Cor. 7:9-11) over one’s sin was occurring vs. the sorrow of the world (ie: getting caught), it is not possible to move forward. While going through this experience it seemed impossible to look beyond the person to God because everything remained shrouded in deception and I was stuck there.

If you have been harmed in an ongoing way by someone in habitual sin, the deception and manipulation are very damaging and learning to trust again can be difficult. A counselor who is nouthetic (willing to confront sin) is needful. Covering over sin is never going to produce a good outcome.

In order for you to get a sure footing and move forward, you must know where you areBoots heading, why, and how to get there.

I recently visited West Point Military Academy with a couple of young friends and learned how it is designed to train a cadet to overcome their fears – how parallel this is! If you do not enroll, engage, and strip yourself of doubt and unbelief as to the mission before you, you will not make it. The battle is in one’s mind. If you are going to become free from your painful past, you must decide and act. If you have a divided heart — going back and forth between your feelings and what God says, you will fail. Jesus said in Luke 11:7 that a Kingdom or house (heart) that is divided (vacillating or double-minded), will not stand. So in order to succeed in your endeavor to become free, you must gain a single-minded heart. Helpful scriptures are Luke 5:22, Hebrews 4:12, and James 1:8.

PRAY: Talk to your Father in Heaven as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9-13. You may find reading these few verses with a surrendered heart can ignite your mind into greater vision! Think about what Jesus is saying here:
1. You have a Holy and loving Father (that is established throughout scripture).
2. As you surrender to God’s will, He performs it through you (an opportunity to glorify Him).
3. He gives daily to those who ask Him (seek Him).
4. He forgives all your sins, and we are to do the same to those who have harmed us (yes, it’s a process).
5. Evil is all around, ask Him to deliver you from it and recognize that living in His Kingdom enables you to lay hold of His power and live for His glory (there’s no better way to live).

Victory and freedom boil down to your commitment to wanting to experience healing from your past. It takes singleness of mind and heart to do so.

Scripture Study: I encourage you to daily have a physical Bible that you can write and highlight in. There are also useful on-line helps to do word studies: A simple way is through: biblegateway.com A more detailed way (including Hebrew and Greek) is through blueletterbible.com, they also offer Bible Study courses.

If you find it difficult to study on your own then I suggest asking a godly mentor or biblical counselor to walk the path with you. If you do not have someone you know that can help, pray, ask around, and commit to the journey — you will not regret it. Our teacher and comforter, the Holy Spirit, miraculously takes the inspired words of God and transforms our minds (hearts) through the process of reading, hearing and apply His Word. I can tell you that there is no greater power to transform and lift a heart from pain to promise than the powerful Word of God. He has miraculously transformed my mind and does so daily. Hallelujah!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relates Part 1 and Forgive & Live! Part 3

Painful Pasts

autumn-2857032__480If you have lived through a very painful past then you are able to understand how exhausting and emotionally dark it can be to recount these experiences… you feel the pain and turmoil all over again — as though you have purposely gone back for more. Who would want to do that to themselves? That is why many never come to healing because they fear the process – but you do not have to.

I recently had a taste of this experience upon my visit home to Wisconsin. After several days into my visit, I scheduled a day to go and visit several friends from the past. I had not previously taken the opportunity to tell some of the details of my recent journey and felt free to share more of my story during this visit. All went well with these friends and I enjoyed my time, but that night in my sleep a floodgate of pain poured into my soul. Upon waking, I felt like I had lost the victorious ground I’d gained – like I had traveled back to a very broken place in my climb; what happened? This experience caused me to think about why this occurred.

When we re-enter the large room of our painful past and relive it, that doesn’t mean wewoman-837156__340[1] are still there. It may feel that way momentarily, but what we do with these feelings will determine how we think. We can choose to restructure our minds and return to the place of peace God has given or continue ruminating upon the feelings that have resurfaced.

Many face fear when thinking of their past, and so leaving it alone is the solution they choose; yet God has a better way. In my view, if you are not holding tightly to God’s healing hand and being guided by the power His Word offers, it is a fearful and dangerous proposition to regurgitate the past. Hope and healing that proceed from your Creator’s heart is the safest arena from which to process the painful experiences you’ve lived through.

Truthfully acknowledging that we have suffered is honest and right to do. Bringing into the light all that is darkness (or sin) is needful (I John 1:7). Forgiving our offender is necessary (Matt 6:14-15) and is a process that we want to pursue; a good counselor/mentor can help with that. Allow God to set things straight (Romans 12:19). Healing from the wounds is God’s will and if you desire that, it can happen — that’s is God’s specialty.

I’m thankful our hearts and minds can be powerfully renewed and rebuilt through the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Sharing our testimony about what God has done for us is good. When Jesus Christ suffered and died for sin, He offered the possibility for us to gain freedom from our past. This includes sin we have committed as well as those committed against us. Jesus suffered the awful price and penalty for our sin on the cross 2000+ years ago, we are now left to respond to this great gift He offers. How we appropriate His sacrifice for sin will determine our freedom and healing, or not.

If you are struggling concerning the pain of your past, through poor decisions made and/or violations committed against you, I hope this helps you in your climb to freedom. God’s plan is to recover and deliver you from destruction. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy us, but Jesus said He came to give us abundant life! (John 10:10).

There is hope for you! No matter what your journey has been, remember God can redeem it and give you great purpose in your future because of it.

This is part 1 of a 2 part message. We will look at the steps to recovery and deliverance from the pain in the next message.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Continue to Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Good-bye

I know why they call them “man’s best friend”. They are unconditionally loving, overlooking your failures, always responding, eager to please, and somehow we learn to read each other’s faces. 

There was always plenty of noise in the house and she listened well, knowing when to get up and respond, or to stay put until called. When the children were young and full of energy, as she was, hearing the noise of her claws clicking on the kitchen linoleum was constant—she was engaged. Any time someone was coming or going, she was the sentinel monitoring the activity. But not so much these days, it was just her and I; she knew when to get up or not.

I remember trying put my shoes on and sneak off one day to head across the main road to see my neighbor without her. It didn’t work. Her keen ears could always tell the sound of the x-country ski boot, my tennis shoe, or even a flip flop! She knew my next move by the sound of preparation.

Part of our day throughout the years included taking a walk or bike ride in the woods that surrounded our home. The neighbors had developed their ATV trails and we used them for walking, running, biking and skiing in the winter. We all enjoyed this setting; it was a wonderful place to call home.

Should we mow today, girl, or wait until Thursday?” the place was quiet now, activities had slowed down and the listening ear had much less demand these days. It helped to converse with her, always a knowing look coming back at me. Her look responded to my tone, and now more than ever, my visage spoke to her.

I, along with many others I’ve talked to, have concluded that dogs are a wonderful gift from God; they are a tool in His Hand to demonstrate His love and care for us.

I remember how our youngest daughter, the one who begged for a puppy, would love to trick our canine into feeling like something big was happening, either a thief was present and she needed to respond in a protective mode or a visitor had arrived and we needed her welcoming skills. She was the classic Golden Retriever – effervescently wiggling, body swaying, scrunched up a bit, and swooning with love.

The process of letting her go was extraordinarily painful. I remember our final day together. On Monday evening, we drove down to one of her favorite places. Years earlier, our friends had turned a piece of land into a place of adventure, fun and most of all hospitality and love toward anyone who visited them. This was displayed through smells from wonderful cooking and the sights; it was a hobby farm perched on the ridge along Lake Champlain, and the sounds of a horse whinnying, chickens clucking or the faithful dog barking, as someone pulled up the long drive. It felt like home, even though we all usually left before bedtime. This would be her selection, if she could tell me where on earth she would like to spend her final 24 hours, this would be the place.

That Tuesday, August 1st, would be an emotionally consuming day by the time I pillowed my head that night. I tried to contain myself throughout the day, not wanting her to pick-up any more of my emotional scent than necessary. Thankfully, we were at a place that felt comfortable and held many good memories for us. When she was a pup we’d bring her down on our 4-H fun-days; she’d follow the horses as we’d ride, or cautiously go over and look at those curious birds pecking, pecking, pecking at the ground. And the people! So many people coming and going, stopping to visit; dropping something off, picking something up, and the holidays could not be beat. It was golden retriever grand-central and fit her enthusiastic personality nicely! Now, 13 years later, she was moving slower, her white face, surrounded by her reddish-golden coat, was tired. She had become the ole girl now, like the one she’d follow around as a pup learning the pathways and routines of the ridge.

As the afternoon sun grew warm and I looked at her lying in the thick green grass, it was bitter-sweet. So many memories tumbled through my heart. I needed to focus upon the good ones, if I did not, if I thought too much about all that had brought us to this day; I would not make it through. The relief of having sold the house 20 days earlier was good, but the strain of moving and now losing her was weighing upon me; so much loss, grief and pain, the temptation toward bitterness was great. The conversation earlier that morning loaded additional shame and blame upon me for doing what I thought was best for her. I was left to decide, the weight of the decision was heavy. And I was only halfway2017-07-21 002 through this day. Like a mother trying to present a peaceful front to an unknowing child, I got up from the porch rocker and went to her, “Come on girl, let’s take a walk”. She got up with a bit of a grunt and gave me that look indicating it was worth it; just being together was worth it.

As I drove her to my veterinarian’s place for an after-hours appointment, I cried. I called a friend while driving and crying, who had recently euthanized their dog. He encouraged me that it was the best thing to do. That helped some; I needed some encouragement in this dark hour.

I was to face one more major hurdle before I spoke her name to her one last time. My friend, the vet, had a young assistant who wanted to intervene, offering to take my girl, obviating the appointment. She meant well but I could not consent. I alone knew my already desperate attempts to place her with someone; her inability to thrive in a new family, not eating, nor engaging with life around her. I had spent the past 3 weeks trying to leave her with different people only to find that she was shutting down and would not stay without enduring major stress. I was so distraught and desperate, I considered it, but when I asked if she had other dogs and learned she had 4 already, this was my relief sign from God that it was not an option. So we continued on.

I let her out of the van to sniff around one last time. I could tell she was reading me well. She got out and looked at me, wondering… was I leaving her there?, what was happening? I called her back to the van, her place of comfort, her place of belonging, with me. She laid down. With me beside her, petting her, the injections were given, she was gone.

2014 025Postscript:
Our dear friends, Ed & Lisa and their children–also gifts from God to me, had provided and prepared a burial place; I drove there, nearby, sullen, sad, crying, broken-hearted. Yet I knew it was best. Our dear ole girl was resting safe, no more worries for her.