Feeling Trapped? Don’t Run Into The Barn

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

photo-24889599-back-to-the-barn-7A horse will stay in one place if the rider loosely wraps the lead rope around a post. The muscular animal could easily wander off if so inclined, yet the visual suggestion of a tie is enough to keep it in place. This is the same animal that will run back into a burning barn for safety. 

What could horses be thinking? Surely, we would never make those decisions. We know when we are free; we understand to run from fire.


Sean* feels trapped. His financial problems have recently escalated because loan payments into the tens of thousands on a defunct business will soon be due. His car is unreliable, his employer cut his hours, and Sean sees his dreams slipping away. He grows increasingly depressed. As he looks at surrounding circumstances he feels frozen, paralyzed by fear. Decisions are tough to make. 

Cindy* is dying on the inside. The all-pervasive, daily emotional pain which has become her reality is more difficult to combat lately. She senses her will wavering and wonders how long she can last in her abusive marriage. Everything is crumbled at her feet – hopes for a loving relationship, belief in herself, even her attempts at self-medication create more harm. She would like to leave, but how? Where would she go? Doubts win the battle again, and she resolves to be the perfect wife.

We are very good at acting like horses when we run to perceived comfort and familiarity. It is hard to challenge our brains, especially under great stress, to search for better answers. I think sometimes we forget we are free to choose differently.

Someone once said to me, “You are free.” And another time, “You are in charge.” Those statements were foreign and slow to digest. More recently, fresh questions make more sense. Am I actually stuck here or do I have options?  

Old-familiar does not own Sean, Cindy, or me.  You are not trapped either.  Comfort zones of our choosing are only powerful to hold us back if we allow them.

Sometimes we need helpful advice – we can ask. Some days we need support – we can reach out for and accept it. Some weeks, months, and years the answer seems to come too slowly – we have control over taking the next step, and the next, and the next.

Eventually we will look back and shake our heads in wonder, amazed at how far we have come. There will be no rope wrapped around a post, the barn will be gone, and we will be free to enjoy the freedom that belonged to us all along.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:114

You [Lord] are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.”



NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*names have been changed




Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.