A Lesson from My Cut

Take a look at this picture.  This is my right pinky finger 48 hours after I gashed it on the jagged part of a Saran wrap dispenser. (The darn things are impossible to tear a sheet off of, especially when you are in a rush!)  If you look closely, you can see not only the irregular cut but also the swollenness of the whole area.  Indeed, it feels like when I used to jam my finger playing basketball when I was younger and the whole area around my knuckle would puff up and make the skin tight.

Medically, I have no idea what happened, since it was a cut and not an impact.  Did I graze a tendon or disturb a muscle?  I have no idea.  I do know that this uncannily resembles my body's response to falling on the ice and bruising my ribs several weeks back.  You may recall from that incident that my whole side felt really uncomfortable, not from any broken bones but just from the area feeling aggravated and inflamed. 

Like I described to my wife (who is extremely medically savvy, and so gave me a look like "do you realize how stupid you sound, but you're cute when you talk like this so I'm just going to grin and nod my head"), it's like my body tensed up from each injury, and was just going to stay tense until way after the injury was done happening.  And, since I'm old, it takes forever for that part of my body to unclench and get back to not being puffed up and in pain. 

My explanation may be medically dubious, but it strikes me as a not bad analogy for people who have gone through trauma.  Whatever the trauma, it leaves us clenched up way past when the trauma is over.  If we have been abused in the church, being in church tenses us up.  If we have suffered harm in a relationship, our guard is up when we get close to someone.  The damage may be well in the past, but in the present we still feel the discomfort and aggravation. 

Time may eventually help us unclench.  But, to continue the medical parallel, sometimes time is not enough.  My cut will eventually heal itself, but if I had torn a muscle or broken a bone, I might need professional medical attention.  Similarly, professionals like my own wife (who provides counseling and prescriptions to folks who have suffered all kinds of life trauma) stand by to help mend us where we have been gashed to the point of needing direct attention. 

All around us are people who have been grievously injured, and even if they are on the road to healing their guard is up and they are still inflamed and uncomfortable.  May we be oases for such sufferers.  And if we are suffering, may we find the oases and solace we need to be able to unclench and be free from the pain at last. 
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