Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fur Covered Healing

It amazes me how powerful the love cats, dogs, and other furry friends can be in the healing process. Whether it is healing from an illness or the healing of ones heart, God certainly uses them to offer us comfort and strength.

A couple weeks ago, a friend gave me the initiative to look into adopting a dog. This is something I have always wanted to do but have put off due to my small living quarters and finances. Now that I have both a real, paying job and a new house, those can no longer be used as excuses.

Upon receiving her email, I decided just to peruse the petfinder site. This is where I also happened to find Melanchthon back in the Fall of 2003. I immediately fell in love with a cute, older black lab. I emailed the adoption agency (Pets Come First in State College) only to find out she had already been adopted. They then proceeded to send me the pictures of several other dogs, one being sweet little Caroline.

She is a 5 year old hound/lab mix and she arrived at my house yesterday. She has suffered multiple homes, heartworm, lyme disease, and neglect but seems to be adjusting quite well to our home. The cats are even doing wonderfully with her calm personality. It is such a joy.

The moment I decided to adopt Caroline, I felt a strong change happen in me. I was really not doing well and was falling into a deep depression. The break up of my relationship has really taken a toll. While I am not even close to completely "recovered" from this, Caroline has given me something to look forward to. I have moved out of the crisis state and into the healing process.

While work continues and I move forward with the necessary tasks each day, I can't seem to get myself out of this funk. Many have said to me what a great learning experience it has been to see that things like this even happen to pastors. For them, it has made pastors seem more "real", that they really are human. Hearing this is a great blessing and I am glad to know that others have learned something from this. However, it has not made it any easier to walk through.

This experience has taught me a great deal. Honestly, I wish beyond anything that none of this ever happened, especially at this point in my life. It is difficult to understand the "why's" regarding the break up and the timing. I'm finding myself questioning things more personally and theologically.

One of the many hard lessons I have learned is regarding the difficulties surrounding being a pastoral leader when you are in a spiritual crisis. Writing sermons, answering questions, and the like are not easy when you feel so empty. It makes me wish I was in my 20th year of ministry so that I had a file folder full of old sermons I could reuse. I have found myself drawing up blanks when reflecting on scripture. Truly, if it wasn't the Holy's Spirit's work, there would be nothing to preach on Sunday.

And yet, with all of this internal struggle, each day that goes by I do find myself doing better. It is not as difficult to get out of bed, I don't have to fake every smile, i'm surrounded by a constant source of love amongst the congregations. And, I have three wonderful fur-children who offer unconditional love.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers. Like all times of trial, this is a journey which will hopefully end having grown stronger from the heartache.


bexx said...

Hi Laura, I am so glad you are dealing with life better. It is amazing how much love you can receive from a pet. I'll be praying for you and please keep my daughter in your prayers as she and her boyfriend of 5 years are now broken up. God bless!

Sue said...

Caroline looks like a very sweet companion for you and the cats! I can't even imagine the pain your heart is feeling. I know 23 years ago with a 1 year old daughter my husband woke up and decided he didn't want to be married any longer. It was a long 4 year recovery period which I had to turn over to the Lord and I did and when my daugher was 5 I met and married the man of my dreams when I wasn't looking and this Spring we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Life will work out . . . .trust in the Lord. I will pray for you every day. Your name is taped to my refrigerator to remind myself to pray for you my friend. Stay strong and of course rely on Caroline for a hug or two :)

Paul or Denise said...

You are definitely in our thoughts and prayers. I'm guessing the pain is so deep because the love was so deep. I guess there is an opposition in all things, but it sounds like you're healing well.

Just as with building faith, healing won't happen overnight. It is a process, and it sounds like you are moving forward well. I often get impatient and wish the seed of faith/forgiveness/healing would happen instantly, but then we wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much.

I once heard that in between our trials we build our faith, and during our trials we use it. I'm sure you'll continue to be blessed for your efforts, even if you feel they aren't as emotionally complete as you'd like. Although you may feel hollow, pressing forward as you are will help you be clay in the Potter's Hands.

Good luck to you, and love from Utah!