By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Seezer suffered at the hands of cruelty before my dad rescued him. Long-term brain damage limited his ability to protect himself. Our other, wiser dog (Topper) took the lead role while Seezer bounced his way through life, forever a puppy in mind and spirit.
Like Seezer, many of us are survivors. Our pasts are messy and fresh starts seem unattainable. Yet the testimonies of millions of people prove that life can begin again. I have said that my super-power is the ability to start over. Several times I have lost nearly everything I valued, had to find a fresh path for my feet, and discover a new reason to fight.
Two things seem to have given Seezer the gumption to start each day like it was his first: freedom and hope. In the first three of these blogs about our best furry friends, No Dog is an Island, Dogs Need Mercy and A Dog Likes His ‘Do‘, we discover how much we can learn from animals like Seezer.
(4) We need freedom and hope
The freedom of country life was opposite what Seezer had known at the end of a chain. We too may need to change our environment to know freedom. Toxic people may no longer belong in our presence. Two separate psychologists told me that a) we cannot heal from abuse until we end the abuse, and b) no one really moves forward from the past without validation of their experience. Escaping abuse may be our first priority. Talking to a safe person about our history may be the second.
Jesus offers freedom of spirit, a break from guilt, shame, and purposelessness. He offers freedom in every situation. A man imprisoned for his faith in China, said “We are as free as you (Americans) to choose to share the gospel or not.” His freedom of choice was not stolen by torturous guards.
Seezer never brought into the next day what had occurred the day before. He experienced continuing struggles such as with Duke, the neighborhood menace-dog. Still, each morning Seezer’s hope of giving and receiving love and affection was apparent as he wiggled near the door to greet anyone coming or going.
Sometimes we need to borrow the hope of others on our behalf. In deep depression, I could not understand why strangers cared more for my life than I did. Once, the tiniest of Topper’s and Seezer’s puppies could not get enough to eat. He and I moved into the basement for three weeks where I fed him with an eye-dropper and milk. It is okay to lean on someone else for hope and survival for awhile.
Jesus said to people who believed on him for salvation and eternal life, “I am with you always.” He is near to us when we seek out his hope, his direction. Keeping our eyes on him instead of on the swirling waters of pain and stress around us will lead us through life with more joy than perhaps is expected.
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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