The 10-Minute Luna Eclipse

If the name Luna also means moon and if yesterday was a full moon then it stands to reason that the squirreliest things would happen as we tried to rescue a German shepherd dog. Or does it? Here’s her story.

We have come to understand that there are some missing puzzle pieces to the story of this 2 year-old German shepherd named Luna. I found her on a pet rescue website and showed her to my husband, Steve. “There’s something in her eyes,” he noted and we both agreed with the ad that she is probably a “sweet dog.” But how could we know for sure? Our meeting of the owners in the parking lot of a frozen yogurt shop a 2-hour drive away from our home was largely uneventful. And cold! Luna was skiddish to meet us and the ad had already said this would be the case. D. and his wife just didn’t say much beyond the fact that she ate Pedigree dog food and sheepishly mentioned having taken her to a vet. But why wasn’t she chipped, registered, neutered, or vaccinated? All they said was that Luna was given to them around the same time as their AKC-registered GSD Lucian, a larger, black male. The pair both were described on the rescue site as “sweet dogs.”

The owners lived in the country until the landlord of their rental property had sold the house they were renting. Forced to move, the young family of five sought a new home in the city nearby that would accept their dogs. The new landlord said o.k. until his wife discovered that their insurance company considered GSDs an aggressive breed and instructed them to get rid of their dogs. This is all of the information we had until our meet-up. Then D explained before they left that “Luna just started her heat cycle.” He had told us earlier that she already had 1 litter of puppies when Luna and Lucian got together despite their best efforts to have their kids help to keep them separated. What would all of this mean for us? Steve and I would soon find out! We gave the couple our thank you gift of big chocolaty cranberry pecan cookies and parted ways with our FREE DOG . . .

Luna was shaking as she crouched down on the floor in the back seat of the truck cab. She accepted us touching her but also just stared at us. At times her nose was pressed into the door as far away from us as she could go. This is quite an accomplishment for a nearly 70-pound dog! She walked around the parking lot with us when we stopped at a pharmacy to use the rest room, albeit looking scared and hesitating to heel next to either of us. Back into the truck we all settled for the 2-hour drive home as the sun was sinking behind us. Steve and I made a plan for our first steps when we arrived home and had already prepared some things for her first night with us. What happened next was rather shocking!

Luna at her former home the morning before we met her.

Steve attempted to coax Luna out of the truck as she stared at him from the opposite side of the floor board. Once outside, she pulled this way and that on the leash then in a continued catty-wampas fashion, followed him into the darkness of the backyard. She did go to the bathroom once. Meanwhile, I cleaned up the vomit off the floor of the truck! Luna was very anxious so I offered to take her for a short walk to burn off some energy. Mistake! She pulled on her leash as I turned to face the driveway from the lawn where we were standing so I turned her in a circle to get control of the lead. By the time I had completed the circle, I lifted up the leash to shorten the slack only to find her collar dangling at the end of it . . . without Luna! She had slipped out of a snug collar without pulling on it at all! Like a bat outta hell she raced into the night and around the backside of the house. Steve tried to follow her but lost sight of her immediately in the moonlight. It all happened so fast! I headed towards the opposite side of the house in time to greet Luna racing towards me. She quickly turned around and zoomed back behind the house. Neither of us saw her after that moment. She was gone.

In just 10 minutes and before we could even get her into the house, Luna had escaped! First Steve then I slowly searched around outside in our backyard to no avail. She was hell-bent on getting away and sadly, succeeded. Where was she going to go? We live about 130 miles from her former home. More importantly, what were we going to do to try to find her? We looked at each other in shock as we continued to unload the truck from our day trip to get our supposedly “sweet dog.” We were only with her for just over 2 hours and now she was a LOST DOG. But why wasn’t she chipped, registered, neutered, or vaccinated? And how in the world do you go about finding a dog without any identification whatsoever?

Answer: you tap into social media, call the county sheriff and animal control, call the non-emergency number for the adjacent town, and start praying! We learned a lot right at the beginning from the Lost Dogs of Fort Wayne group on Facebook. We made public posts on our Facebook accounts and our local Next Door app. Then within hours the seemingly ill-fated post came through on Facebook: a young gal had driven by the scene of an accident in which a German shepherd dog was hit by a black sedan. She reported that the driver had stopped and was outside of her car with the dog; the dog was lying down then sat upright holding a front paw up in front of her. Our hero called her Mom, Lindsay, right away to check any “Lost Dog” posts on social media who in turn sent her daughter our picture of Luna. Yes, she said the GSD looked like Luna!

Immediately I contacted the authorities noted above and no one had a report of the accident yet. Within another hour I received a call from an officer who was covering for the officer who responded to the “crash” scene. The 2nd sheriff said that the dog had run off into the darkness once again. He didn’t specify into which direction she went. We later figured out that Luna was heading west and south, in exactly the direction of her former home. She had run 3 miles in that first hour before attempting to cross a 5-lane highway and got hit. Steve was already out looking for her but was unsuccessful. So was Dv, a family friend who felt a burden to find our new dog. Dv’s two kids had become friends with our former pup, Elle, and were heartbroken when we had to put her down very recently. To be honest, we were still missing her terribly as well. We love dogs! By midnight we were asking ourselves, “what have we done now? We should have known that a 2 year-old dog of the very loyal German shepherd breed could be difficult to separate from- and be relocated to another family. But what were we to do when that family passed her off to us when Luna was in heat? On the night of a full moon our GSD was a definite flight risk! Oh Luna, what is going to happen to you?

There was nothing more we could do until daylight returned. Steve came home and went off to bed while I tried to answer questions about Luna online and continue to spread the word on social media. Many folks were praying as we were too. Luna was alone and scared out in what would become a low temperature of 9 degrees by daybreak. What were the chances that our pup was going to make it? To her favor, Luna reportedly loved to be outside and evidently spent a lot of time outdoors. Perhaps she would bed down somewhere along the road in a place where we could find her the next day? What I didn’t realize until later is that there would be other people looking for her as well. There are a lot of dog lovers out there who jump into action when they find out about a lost dog. One gal in our neighborhood. Two gals in the Lost Dogs group. Our friend Dv. As soon as I got up that Sunday morning, I prepared myself to search for her myself wherever the Lord may lead me. Please Lord, which way did she go?

I decided to head to the wide open spaces of the county fairgrounds first, just west of where she was last spotted. Just as I started wolfing down some food before heading out the door, the doorbell rang. It was about 10:00 a.m. There was a county sheriff’s car in our driveway and a sheriff at the door. Oh no. What does this mean, I wondered? “We found your dog!” the officer reported. He then asked me for more identifying information as the facts seemed to line up that the GSD they found trapped in a fence about 3/4 mile from our home was indeed Luna. SHE WAS ALIVE!!! The officer expected me to jump into the squad car with him immediately but I needed to get dressed for the cold. He didn’t seem to understand this nor that my husband wasn’t home at the time and that I wasn’t feeling well. Then he said that he was the captain of the shift and called over to direct the Animal Control Officer holding Luna to bring her over to us from the scene where she had been located. Luna was discovered by someone who had seen her wedged into a fence when driving by along the same highway, albeit 2 miles north, as the night before. We are so grateful to both parties, last night and this morning, who had contacted the sheriff’s office to report these two sightings of Luna. The police got involved only because there was damage to the car that had hit her; the driver has called the police, to file a report. That report helped further link us to our anonymous, evasive, elusive, scared, and now injured GSD.

Dollar signs floated through my head much of Saturday night into Sunday. Steve even more so. This was all looking a little crazy for a FREE DOG from a RESCUE WEBSITE! By now every possible authority had our contact information and our willingness to help out the driver of the damaged vehicle as well, if needed. “The officer will call you,” said another dispatcher, if the driver needed anything more from us. Soon back at home, another squad car rolled into the courtyard in front of our home and opened the back hatch. I peered inside to find one extremely frightened Luna pup. Awwww. Oh you dear dog. “How are you puppers?” I said to the blank stare of her big brown eyes. The very young, weekend Animal Control Officer slowly coaxed Luna to come out. Luna jumped down about 2 1/2 feet without a whimper from her injuries. But when she started to walk she was limping. No blood or wounds were visible (until later after her bath) but that left back hind quarter looked exceedingly painful. “She just wanted to get warm” explained the AC officer at the scene. They didn’t have to convince her to get into the squad car and out of the freezing temperatures; “she just wants to get warm” he said again as Luna headed directly for the house. Did you catch that? She was heading directly for a house in which she had never been inside. Our house was now the refuge she was seeking. I was so very glad.

We went into the laundry room by way of the garage. I made sure to close the garage door behind us as the Officer continued walking through to the front door to leave. “God bless you!” was the most of what I could say, still emerging from more shock from the morning’s developments. Steve and I had no idea that we would ever see Luna again! Steve came home from church early and soon went off to Petsmart to purchase a proper harness for use outside. (A snout harness is on order per the recommendation of Misfit Shepherds rescue. We already had a clean and stronger leash to use.) By the afternoon Luna had gingerly agreed to a bath to check for wounds and diminish the dirt and scent of a cheap date, not to mention heavy pheromones as her heat cycle continued.

Our home wreaked of more noxious odors for the rest of the day than I could have ever tolerated in the past. Thank the Lord that for some reason I have been having fewer convulsive episodes the over the past 2 weeks! But by Sunday night I was pretty loopy and having a couple of tic attacks, albeit nothing like what I have experienced for a decade before this January. It’s pretty amazing that this change would emerge as 1) Elle passed away earlier this month and 2) I had increased a new supplement of a type that my Doctor prescribed for brain and joint health but struggled to tolerate in the past. (By the way, the new Omega 3 supp is made from the same kind of plants that I have grown in our garden!) I was able to help Steve care for Luna this past weekend and even take the road trip yesterday to go meet her, bring her home. For all of this I am amazed, exceedingly grateful. Praise the Lord!

So to our beautiful-perhaps-still-scared and precious Luna, we are beginning a new journey together. Tomorrow, Lord willing, Steve and I will take you to meet your new Vet who will get you fixed up properly and evaluate your wounds from your accident. The emergency vet hospital staff didn’t think that you broke any bones but we do think your tender spirit was damaged a bit by your unfortunate escapade. Maybe this first crazy night under a full moon will serve to bond us all together a little more? We are here to love you and care for you, our sweet fuzzy girl. More fun adventures than you can ever imagine await you if you but give us a chance. We will be patient. I already love you so.

The spot where Luna decided to camp out her first night with us. That’s an ice pack on her hip.

Zero to 60 and the UPS Driver

She lifted her head and barked out that ferocious alarm that let anyone who came near, especially those in brown UPS trucks, not to mess with her or her people within. And within two hours, she was gone.

The ad on Craig’s List was for a free German shepherd dog. My husband said that German shepherds were a great breed for a pet dog but I was a little skeptical. Maybe afraid is a better word. I had witnessed the torture of a German shepherd and was further traumatized by the behavior of one in heat when I was still a kid. Flash forward to bites by a Rottweiler and an Akita as an adult, the latter sending me to the Emergency Room for a tetanus shot, and you could say I wasn’t a big fan of big dogs. I still always loved dogs. The gerbils that me and my brothers had as kids didn’t satisfy my longing for a real furry friend. That’s all you get when your Mom is a single parent and I do understand. Flash forward over 4 decades and off to a town an hour’s drive south of us Steve and I went to pick up Elle. What a great decision!

Elle was timid and small, tied to a tree when we arrived to the address out in the country. “Are you sure she is going to be o.k.?” I asked Steve as the owner pointed to her and simply said, “Take her.” “She’ll be fine,” reassured Steve and he was right. Within about the first 20 minutes of the drive home, the approximately 5-month old German shepherd puppy went from scared to picking her head up and exploring the new life ahead of her. The first few days are a blur to me now. She was born outside so gratefully we never had to house-train her. What a bonus! We got her checked out then spayed according to the guidance of our new Vet. I remember fondly cuddling Elle’s neck in her slumbered state from the pain medication after the procedure. That posture of her tucking her head down to receive my affection close-in would be our special thingy throughout her life. What a special bond we had!

A couple of moments stand out to me the most over the course of the next 13 years or so. The first was when we learned a little more about who our dog really was. Steve and I were hiking at a local Acres Land Trust park when he decided to let Elle off her leash for a bit. Before long Elle was racing from point to point between us along the trail, leaping over downed logs and sliding many feet in the leaves covering the path as she zoomed one way then back the other. If you’ve ever heard of large canines getting a case of the ZOOMIES then this is exactly what happened. We laughed so hard! It might have been on this same outing that we learned something unique about German shepherds. We were walking along the trail when a couple of deer crossed our paths, up along a ridge about 100 feet ahead of us. As soon as Elle saw them, her pace slowed as she put herself between us facing the “threat.” Well we didn’t know that the deer were a threat but to Elle they must have been so! We stopped in amazement to watch both the deer scamper away and our dog keep a close eye on them until they were out of sight. Some very detailed sniffs followed by our fuzzy protector when we got up to the line where the deer had crossed our path. Good dog!

There was the time when we tried to get Elle to ride in our Hobie Oasis kayak to no avail. She preferred swimming in the water, any water, alongside our outrigger canoe and especially when there was a tennis ball to chase from the ball chucker! Retrieving the ball launched to the end of our property was her favorite thing, over and over and over again! Or maybe it was chasing after the radio-controlled car or airplane? She raced around the courtyard in front of our home, hoping to get a bite of the rubber tires of the RC car Steve had bought to enjoy with his son, Daniel. The trick was to grab the car before Elle pounced on it as if it was some kind of live prey to be devoured! Noooooo! The same was true with the RC airplane my husband expertly flew in the open and pond areas behind our home. Even though the plane was at least 50 feet up in the air, Elle ran and ran and ran after it, nearly crushing it when the battery wore out and the foam glider touched down for a landing. The race was on to see who could get to it first with our Pup racing in for the kill on the grass strip of our backyard! As Elle got older, her chasing of the plane was interrupted by stopping to take a dump or a swim, or a sniff, or otherwise rest, before charging off again with her nose in the air tracking the plane. We loved every minute of it and so did she!

Then there were the tragic days that I spent battling my serious illness while Elle slept softly on the floor across from the bed, in front of the tub in the Master bathroom. She wasn’t what you would call an affectionate dog yet one who would definitely seek out hefty scratches around the ears when we came home. When one of us came home from an errand or work, the other would send Elle out to the car to be the first greeting. She learned quickly not to jump up, instead how to nuzzle her way past the open car door to the driver’s seat to welcome either of us home. I loved that. But it was a different story when I was sick in bed. Was she just watching and waiting to make sure I was o.k.? Or frightened by the screams of pain and seizing that erupted virtually every single night as I writhed in the bed in front of her?

For years the convulsive episodes met me every morning for about 30 minutes as I awakened. I had to lie in bed like a victim succumbing to a beating before I became functional enough to attempt to use the bathroom. One particular day, early in the afternoon, I simply could not get out of bed. My head pounded from the daily headache, body hurt so badly, ears were ringing, and I simply could not think straight enough to get things to be any different. Trying to drink some water or even the breakfast that I had prepared and placed bedside the night before was beyond my ability to accomplish. Those times were especially sorrowful. So I called over to Elle. She seemed very confused when I invited her up onto the bed, next to me. She wasn’t allowed on the bed nor on any furniture. “What is this?” she must have wondered. It took a few tries and some coaxing at a time when she clearly was able to jump up into the back of a truck and onto most furniture. I guided her to lie down next to me and there we stayed for a long time. Her warmth comforted me in a way that nothing else could possibly have come close. I needed my Puppers and she was there for me.

As the years went by, Steve and I got to take our Elle along as we traveled to many different places. She’s was an excellent traveler and went west with us a few years back, to many United States Canoe Association events to cheer Steve at his paddling races, and to Florida about ten times. She just hunkered down behind the passenger seat and off we went on one adventure or another. She never had an accident unless very sick. Her loyalty to us, to the way things should be, to her role as protector, a lover of most kids (unless you were a rascally boy big or small) was precious. She was my Elle-Beast, Puppers, Pups, and Elle: all names to which she would respond as quickly as Steve’s clap of his hands. He was her Alpha dog; she did put up with me and was obedient most of the time with a little extra encouragment . . . And treats of course!

I really wouldn’t have had it any other way. At least today. Today I’ll say that she was a perfect dog, a perfect pet. They all are after they are gone. So go squeeze your furry friend for me today, Gentle Reader. I’m sure I would love your pet as much as our Elle. It’s just the way it should be. Unless you are a UPS driver, of course! Then y’all better watch out! JJ

My garden buddy

Where do you go?

Where do you go when what was good is now bad and what was bad is now commonplace,

When the meaning of words is twisted or the prose is outlawed altogether?

Where do you go when your spirit is disquieted, there is no where that feels safe,

When you cannot trust your body to get you there even if you knew where that was?

Where do you go when fear-mongering is the top headline every day

When there is no place for discussion much less public or private debate?

Where do you go to share your pictures and news and questions and art

When social media has become the Big Brother of an ever bigger government?

Where do you go when your losses outnumber your wins and

You just don’t know when or if either one can come back in any form?

Where do you go where the customary habits of hygiene and socialization

Are so altered by an unforeseen enemy they can’t even objectively identify?

Where do you go for human touch, to connect with loved ones

When there is no room for them even when dying in a hospital bed?

Where do you go for wisdom, for light in the darkness, for hope of a better day

When all you can see is madness, anxiety, fear, doubt, and dumbing down?

Gentle Reader, you go to Jesus Christ

His throne of grace is mightier than

Any trial or tragedy or evil we may face.

Go now. Our very eternity is at stake.

What do I long for?

That night walking along the dock, arm in arm, before dinner with friends that hot July summer. I had quickly changed my clothes in the truck on our way back from the airport to the restaurant, into something I later deemed too cutesy for a woman nearing her 6th decade of life. It didn’t matter that night . . .

Perhaps it was the same night of the day when we paddled our custom, tandem Huki outrigger canoe on the great Lake Winnebago after the EAA air show: the biggest in the nation. Sometimes you get to feel cool. Riding around with a 24-foot OC-2 on your roof is definitely one of those days, anytime, anywhere . . .

OC-2, outrigger canoe, River Bear Racing, Hawaiin boat, married couple on the water, lake kayaking, lake canoeing, tandem canoe

In the crispness of the salty air waifing all the way to the east side of Tampa, I recall our relaxed stroll through the sales lot of the RV park where we were staying. Lazy Days indeed. We dreamed about upgrading our Tin Can Ranch, a dream that would be realized just a couple of years later for reasons that were more puzzling than exciting. Even so, that night was magical with you. Were we even supposed to be out there? Kind of weird in a way to pick this memory when a walk along the Sunset Beach would have held so much more charm and majesty. Well we did that too another night . . .

I’ve rarely felt smaller yet more in awe as when you showed me around Palisades Reservoir along the most southeastern corner of Idaho that one could go. After we launched, there was no one around for probably miles except for the moose you had seen the day before! Would we see them crashing into the water from the woods this afternoon too? The water was as blue as you could ever find: crisp and clear and oh so refreshing as it sprayed off our carbon paddles moving that OC-2 to parts unknown. Your confidence as a competitive paddler calmed my fear of flipping over in a place where no one would ever see or hear us. Did we have all we needed for a fabulous adventure? I think so . . .

The laughter burst forth easily as we took turns zipping along Lake Wauwasee on the jet ski we rented for your birthday. Daniel and Rebekah took turns as we all did, knowing that your other adult children Christina and Patrick would have had a blast too if they could have been with us as well. But it was our friends Ed and Kinsey that would end up joining us later at The Frog Tavern when we ran into them near the end of our outing. Imagine that! It was such a wonderful day . . .

The thrill was palpable as we zoomed in your Dad’s MG along the coast of Solana Beach and beyond. Dang that engine was loud and the clutch barely held a gear! It wasn’t too much for you my lover of all things that fly through the air whether on land, sea, and now THE SKY! Your kids were still a little weirded-out by our recent wedding then extensive travel together from Indiana to California two months later. Eventually they chilled some. Eventually I came to understand how meaningful that trip really would become in opening up the stories of your life to me as we stayed in your parents’ home. Let’s ride in a convertible along Highway 1 again sometime soon . . .

Waiting on the tarmac of the Kendallville airport that cool evening held much anticipation as you completed the FAA exam for your Private Pilot license. I wanted to be the first to congratulate you on realizing your lifelong dream to fly! The wind sock and other funky towers whose purpose I still don’t understand faded from view as the night sky filled the viewfinder of my camera phone. And then you came in for a landing: just you, pilot-in-command! What a privilege it was and continues to be for me to witness the desires of your heart taking flight. No experiences I have had in my past years compare to the calling to get behind your man when he is being blessed by the Lord. I pray that I get to be in the cockpit with you again soon my love . . .

So this night, when I can hardly travel at all with you nor fly nor paddle nor lie in your arms lest the wretchedness of illness take over, I long for another adventure with you. Is it the enduring the tumultuous trials of our times and the stretching of our souls that must suffice for the awesome view of a mountain lake, a $100 hamburger by way of a bumpy flight in the RV12, or the crisp scent of a beckoning water body virtually anywhere? Do the sometimes demonic trials that test all we know about life and love and faith and time and space earn us a better day when we can live freely in the moment, hand in hand, without a care at all? Lord willing, this side of heaven?

I do long for you my love. I long for all the more that we can wander through together without the pains of this life the Lord has allowed which sidelines them, albeit for His purposes. Will you hang in there with me? Please don’t ever stop asking me to join you in your adventures for one day I may be able to say yes! And do cherish me tenderly as you go. I am hurting from the trials of late. This too shall pass with proper care and perhaps more time than either of us would like. You are my intended beloved not just the one with whom I am somehow stuck by some vows. I do respect you. And I do love you dearly.

What do I long for? I do believe, he is already here . . .

Heal the wound, Heal the heart

While I don’t claim to be an expert in medical wound care, I have seen enough nasty, smelly, screamingly painful open sores when I worked in healthcare to know that we can learn much from their process of healing. I submit to you that the stages of healing that occur when one’s body works to heal after an injury or surgery run parallel to other types of wounding that happens in life. Further, the risks for complications such as infection or swelling (aka edema) can be symbolic of the “secondary damage” that not only impedes the healing process in both but introduces entirely new problems that must be addressed as well. I have seen in my life that injury, damage, or wounding from various types of abusive behaviors have the same characteristics, the same impacts, the same risks for complications and the same potential for healing in due time as wound care management. These wounds can heal and the scar or scars fade if handled correctly. And while it all can take a little more time than we might like, the process can reveal wondrous truths and blessings as ordained by our Heavenly Father, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Heal the wound

Check this out from Wound Source:

The stages of wound healing are a complex and fragile process. Failure to progress in the stages of wound healing can lead to chronic wounds. Factors that lead up to chronic wounds are venous disease, infection, diabetes and metabolic deficiencies of the elderly. Careful wound care can speed up the stages of wound healing by keeping wounds moist, clean and protected from reinjury and infection.

Generally, remodeling begins about 21 days after an injury and can continue for a year or more. Even with cross-linking, healed wound areas continue to be weaker than uninjured skin, generally only having 80% of the tensile strength of unwounded skin.

This recovery assumes that the appropriate treatments and dressings are applied right away, any open wound is kept moist, naturally occurring inflammation is controlled, and

a new network of blood vessels must be constructed so that the granulation tissue can be healthy and receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients. 

Appropriate compression is applied with proper bandaging, elevation, and reduction of factors that can contribute to swelling. The presence of edema itself is a risk factor for new injuries and complicates the healing process tremendously when dealing with an open wound. According to the EO2 wound care technology company, whatever the reason for the edema, it WILL impair healing through several mechanisms. All of these factors need to be managed well for processes such as granulation and epithelialization to occur. These steps continue at various levels even when the surface wound has closed and things are looking better. The entire amazing physiological process is a testimony to us of the magnificence created by God in our human frame. We can overcome our injuries, our vulnerability to re-injury and complications, whilst moving towards recovery and leaving minimal scarring behind. And even the worst scars do fade in due time.

Heal the heart

Recently I was reflecting on the impact of abusive behavior at various times in my life. The impact was devastating and took on virtually ALL of the characteristics of the injury and damage of a medical wound. Both types of wounds require a careful healing process. In the distant past I defined the abusive behavior that I experienced as that which violated my rights as a human being and professionals labeled as sexual, physical, ritualistic, or verbal abuse. I don’t wish to get caught up in the semantics or seriousness of each type here; all are profoundly impactful.

An individual KNOWS when another person has crossed a line that should never have been crossed and profound damage has occurred even if it takes days, weeks, months, or years to fully realize it. The recipient feels traumatized and goes through a tender, complex grieving and recovery process to heal. For example, the difference between an expression of emotion and abusive behavior can be like a person who uses 1) mean verbiage versus 2) repeated verbal hammering in a tone that purposefully tears down the victim who is yelling “STOP! STOP!” A simple apology may not be enough for the beaten puppy of a person to get past the incident, particularly when the behavior has been repeated. The relationship between the two parties has changed. The recipient is injured, damaged, and wounded kind of like a 3rd degree burn to the soul. Special care and bandaging are needed for as long as it takes for the wound to heal.

Some of my own experiences of abusive behavior happened before I became a Christian: a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Some of them happened afterwards. Gratefully as unto the Lord, most have healed completely while a few have left their scars. There is nothing unusual about that. My purpose here not to belabor my own experiences but to share with my brothers and sisters in Christ what is and what is not abusive behavior then a model for how a person overcomes it. The Biblical Counseling Coalition provides some definitions as follows.

Abuse entails physical violence (Acts 16:19), threats of physical violence (Eph. 6:9), persecution (Matt. 5:44), sexual mistreatment (Judg. 19:25), reviling (Luke 6:28; 1 Pet. 2:23), speaking evil (James 4:11), or being under the misused power of another person or group of people (Gen. 16:6; 1 Sam. 2:16; Ezra 5:12).

Check the link that I provided above for a more detailed discussion on this topic. Focus on the Family describes emotional and verbal abuse specifically and at more length on their website HERE. They add that

Wounds that typically accompany emotional, physical and sexual abuse must not be ignored. Both men and women inflict verbal abuse, but women tend to be more often on the receiving end of this destructive behaviour. What may seem innocent and infrequent at first can escalate.

All forms of abuse follow a pattern that, left unchecked, will only increase over time. Injuries from verbal and emotional abuse can run deep and leave lasting scars. Many emotionally and verbally abused people reason that, because there are no bruises or broken bones, their abuse must not be serious. But it is. Fortunately, support and resources are readily available to guide individuals into safe, loving relationships. In their well-received book Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend state that, “Our pain motivates us to act.” If pain motivates you to act against emotional and verbal abuse, then listen and act.

We can easily see the many parallels between the topics of wound care and recovery from abusive behavior. The pain of each motivates us to act, to fix the situation. What appears on the surface may not reveal all of the layers of injury, damage, wounding that must heal to withstand the testing of the tissues or trials that inevitably follow in life. Choosing to do the work of repairing any remaining wounds of my own experiences required 1) heeding the Lord’s unveiling of my eyes that what actually occurred was damaging and 2) following the leading of the Holy Spirit to move towards restoration. Part of heeding this ongoing process includes writing this blog today. In the past my care also included significant Christian counseling, support groups, Christian books, and the like. Forgiveness, seasoning in my walk with the Lord, restoration of relationships, compassion for others, and spiritual discernment are among the gifts, the fruit for doing the work of recovery.

So what are some specific parallels between healing a physical wound and recovering from abusive behavior?

  • Stop the source of injury. In wound care they call this hemostasis where the body begins to clot your blood to stop the bleeding. In personal relationships this may include setting some ground rules, some boundaries, or simply separating from the other person for a time. The thrombus or clot must hold lest it become dislodged and result in a more bleeding, a more serious injury. Similarly, the two parties in conflict must, in my humble opinion, work to stop attacking one another. Yes, the recipient has responsibility here too.
  • Inflammation in wound healing controls bleeding through swelling and helps prevent infection by bringing fluids/nutrients to the site. Inflammatory words are exceedingly difficult to control when emotions are running high in an abusive situation. There can be fallout and setbacks while the two parties seek to figure out the best way forward, if each are committed to actually go forward together. Bringing in a mutually agreed upon 3rd party is much-needed medicine at this time to help tone things down. The effect of inflammation may hurt for an unknown period of time and look as ugly as an open sore desperately trying to turn a corner towards healing. Proper “bandaging” and self care for emotional wounds must begin in a responsible manner.
  • Wounds are kept moist and hydrated as new cells called collagen and its matrix begin to form. In contrast, the two parties that are able to work together to address the woundedness can do simple things to care for the other parts of the relationship, their shared responsibilities. The darkness still needs to be addressed and treated correctly and what this looks like may change as the two go forward. The antagonist in the story must stop the abusive behavior and create safety in which the protagonist can flourish. New “medicines,” new habits, and new means of communication are needed. Figuring this out takes time. It may actually may be the party that was hurt the most who lovingly leads the two of them through the process of forgiveness and restoration to a better relationship.
  • An even longer phase of wound healing is that of maturation. Find your own parallels in this summary from Wound Source:

During the maturation phase, collagen is aligned along tension lines and water is reabsorbed so the collagen fibers can lie closer together and cross-link. Cross-linking of collagen reduces scar thickness and also makes the skin area of the wound stronger. 

Recognize that, in the words of Bay Care Health, the healing process will vary among individuals and will depend largely on the cause and severity of the wound. I submit to you that all types of wounds are the same in this regard. And as we noted above, the new collagen fibers are vulnerable to re-injury but their re-formation makes the area of the wound even stronger. This process in wound care may take up to a year. We know that while the body never really forgets an injury and neither does the mind, its power over us can change significantly. The things that happen in our past become our story, our testimony of the Lord’s amazing grace in our lives.

When I was working as an Occupational Therapist, we told our patients in rehabilitation all the time when they got discouraged that recovery is usually a jagged line with lots of ups and downs. They had to work through their fears of getting re-injured, having delays due to complications or a re-occurrence of a disease process, and grieve the losses associated with an extended hospitalization and rehabilitation process. Like my older friend Wanda used to remind me in a 12-step support group, “you gotta feel it to heal it.” Range of motion exercises after a shoulder surgery are excruciatingly painful and so are flashbacks of abusive behavior. It’s like the surgery or incident is happening all over again. But it’s not. Eventually the body and the heart starts to heal with ongoing and proper care. Lord willing, most folks do get better. We come to realize that setbacks, hurts or new injuries are just one part of living in a fallen world with fellow sinners just like us. We learn so much in the process. Thank goodness the Lord Jesus Christ helps us to overcome it all!

Interpersonal relationships seem to me to go through the same wound-healing process as restoration comes, as trust is earned: it “takes what it takes” to get there. The prevention of pressure wounds in particular includes daily skin checks. This entails looking for areas of redness over bony areas of the body and making immediate changes to reduce the pressure, nourish the tissues. Could we say that better care of our personal relationships with a better daily maintenance plan can help raise the threshold over which unwanted behavior spills over? I do believe so. Are we following our home exercise programs, our Spirit-led care plans? I could go on but you probably get my point by now.

Gentle Reader, there’s so much to say on these topics and I am not an expert on either one. I am a fellow sojourner to those who have experienced both and I have seen the power of the Lord in healing all kinds of devastation. Let our salty tears be the saline, the healing salve that washes us clean indeed. May the cross-linking of our entanglements in this life give way to the redeeming grace of our risen Lord Who restores us through and through. For His glory! Amen. JJ

1 Corinthians 2:9, No eye has seen nor ear has heard, healing wounds