On Monday night in the midnight hours, I found myself checking in to an emergency department with severe pain in my right lower abdomen/groin area . . . suspecting my appendix as the cause, a grumbling appendix.
After a range of tests, a CT scan, lots of praying, and a couple of doses of a restricted drug for some much needed pain relief, the pain resolved without any explanation or evidence of its cause . . . I was released from hospital late Tuesday morning. I believe it was the answer to my prayer: “That whatever the issue may be, that it would resolve without needing surgical intervention.”
Later that day while contemplating “Since I don’t know the cause, what if it returns?” and strangely enough, ‘it’ started to grumble again . . . I spoke to it . . . and it stopped.
On Wednesday morning on waking up . . . there was a slight ache in that same area . . . and I thought “I will not consider the possibility of your return.” . . . I spoke to it . . . and again it went.
I wonder how much of our pain
is the result of that which we entertain.
Because we don’t understand it, or know the cause
And so we fear the returning grip of its claws!
And so I began to think about life itself, of thoughts and emotions I struggle with. Some issues that stem from childhood, and others that result from bad decisions and wrong choices, causing memories of pain and regret in my past. There have been times when the pain has been so bad, and then in a prayerful cry for help, there’s a shift I don’t understand, and the pain is gone, without any explanation as to how. But then I anticipate the possibility of its return. While I don’t want it to return, I’m checking at every corner for it, because I don’t quite believe (or trust) it has really gone, and then I’m surprised when I find it again.
I think of the story told by a Cherokee elder:
There are two wolves that are always fighting
One is darkness and despair.
The other is light and hope.
The question is . . .
Which wolf wins?
The one you feed.
And so I realise my feeding practice . . . it’s in my searching for that which has resolved. And that searching is because of my lack of understanding, and my inability to let go of my need to know how it resolved. I have an inability to just trust that it has resolved, and that it will not return, so long as I don’t feed or entertain thoughts of it.
On Wednesday I was driving about town when the song ‘Battle Scars’ by Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian came on the radio. The words that struck me in that moment were:
These battle scars don’t look like they’re fading
Don’t look like they’re ever going away
They aint never gonna change
These battle (scars) . . .
And I’m thinking of my own battle scars in life. Sometimes it feels like they are lifelong scars, too deeply imbedded in my memory to ever fade away. Too much a part of me and my past to ever change, or to be truly free of. Not just what I know and am learning about myself, but what others may know or have learnt about me also. And so I find myself discouraged, believing things about myself, and who I am, or who I might be, because of my feelings about things in my past, and things that aren’t changing, or maybe just aren’t changing fast enough as I would like them to.
But I do think this is what the wolf of ‘darkness and despair’ would have us believe. It’s far easier to feed the wolf that has the loudest voice. And because the pain is real, we have evidence that there is a problem, and so the fear about that problem is like an ever sounding alarm bell in our mind, stirring up fear because of the issue causing the pain.
But instead we need to speak to that wolf to silence him, and then feed the other wolf. Because honestly, the only time I’ve had pain (since that initial pain that took me to the E.D.) is when I’ve contemplated it. And then I’ve listened for the grumble, and pondered its return.
Don’t listen for the ‘grumble’ of your pain. Don’t entertain its return. The resolution was provided for you, just as you asked. Accept that and receive it. Believe in it and trust it whole heartedly.
When all the tests show no evidence of a cause, why do I allow that ‘grumble’ to trouble me. “What if they missed something?” But I don’t believe God heals us, to then tease us, but I do believe He allows us to be tested. And so it’s up to me to pass the test, to stand strong in my faith and belief. That the wolf of ‘light and hope’ would conquer the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’ Not just in regards to the ‘grumble’ in my abdomen/groin, but also the grumble in my thoughts and emotions.
Looking forward, not looking back. I’ve heard it said so many times before:
Why then do we still pick it up, that call from the past, when we already know who is calling, because of its caller ID?
Let it go to voicemail and eventually, that which you ignore will stop calling.
Don’t foster a relationship with that which is doing you no good.
How powerful will we be when we learn which wolf to feed? I’m sure both wolves know this and that’s why the battle is so loud. Because one wolf is about overcoming us, while the other wolf is about us as the overcomer.
Referring back to a line in the ‘Battle Scars’ song:
“they aint never gonna change”
Can you see it? I didn’t either at first. But for all the times I’ve sung it, I’ve never actually heard the truth in this one line. That was until I wrote it down and saw it in its written form, instead of just hearing it in its verbal form. The written form enabled me to see something that caused a change in my perspective. It’s a double negative! Which makes it a positive! And suddenly that battle scar that ‘aint never gonna change’ is totally capable of change, and will change! Because: “they are not never gonna change” . . . if we just feed the right wolf.
The song then goes on to sing:
“Never let a wound ruin me.
But I feel like ruin’s wooing me.”
We empower the wounds of our past to ruin us . . .
when we listen to feelings promoted by the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’
When we follow our feelings to believe
that the scars of our battles will never fade.
When we can see the truth revealed in the words of our song.
Then we can see how we’ve interpreted it all so very wrong.
Choose to dance with the wolf of light and hope!