In The Time Of The Owie
y middle son, Owen, managed to escape any physical mishaps for almost 3 years. No scraped knees, no bloody noses. Not even a bad stomach virus. Then tiny Owen burned himself – in a perfectly oval, raised blister from tip to first knuckle on his pointer finger.
As soon as it happened, he ran to me, voice and breath rising. “Owie, owie, owie. Look, Mommy! Look! What is it? Owie, owie, owie…”
I had no idea. (Was it a wasp and he’s allergic? Do stings make that shape?) I asked him to show me what hurt him. He led me to his room, cupping his finger and repeating, “owie, owie, owie.…” The shade was off his lamp– and he couldn’t resist a glowing 60-watt bulb, of course.
As soon as I registered what was wrong, I calmed down and went for ice. As soon as he registered what was wrong, he freaked out. I think the initial shock protected him from some of the pain. When his finger began to throb in earnest, with a hurt he had never felt before, 2-year-old Owen lost all control.
He wailed. He bawled big hot tears that left tracks down his cheeks. He shook his hand as vigorously as he could and tried to slam it against anything he could find. He stamped his feet. He banged his head against walls. And then he screamed – in fury, that this pain STILL existed.
Both parents pulling out all the distraction/ first aid tricks we had… for what felt like a very LONG time. Ten minutes later, he was still trying to rub the blister off with his ice pack. Fifteen minutes later, he still heaved with barely-suppressed sobs. He snotted all over two towels. But – finally! – after about 30 minutes, he cocked his head and listened, as we just kept repeating: It’s OK to feel the hurt. Just feel it for a minute – because we are SURE it will feel different, soon.
If you’re walking through your own Time of The Great Owie, and have found Open Table Faith, you are less alone than you were before. It may hurt all the same, but you are now among people who know how to feel the hurts. Who hold open a space for souls convalescing. Settle in here for a while.
Soon after that, Owen and I were settled on a couch with cartoons and Bomb Pops.
This episode was SO EMOTIONAL at the time… It was dramatic in my memory, for months after. I remember wondering, “why so much fight, kiddo?” But it has occurred to me, many times since: That level of meltdown is what most of us go through, when we really hurt. Especially if it’s a hurt like we’ve never felt before.
Adult hurts are usually more of the emotional-spiritual-psychic variety. But the arc is the same.
As soon as we realize that we feel something down deep – in that gut-punching, breath-stealing way – that we cannot ignore and that does NOT feel good, it’s all we can feel. Perspective is out. Pain is in.
We may ask what it is, but mostly we plead for it to GO AWAY. Owie, owie, owie.
It’s overwhelming, to be at the mercy of something we couldn’t have predicted and now can’t control. So we flail & fight the pain. WHY HASN’T IT GONE AWAY, ALREADY?!
Sometimes, we bang our heads. ‘Cause our throbbing souls get in the way of a lot of better perspective and decision making.
I wish there were a popsicle for psychic pain. An ice pack to stop the burn. Sometimes, it just has to hurt for a while. And we have to feel it.
I’d be way oversimplifying if I compared any deep shift in belief system, the unravelling and regrowing of a faith, to a childhood accident. But there is something in the two experiences that resonates the same.
And something Owen learned, that time with the owie, can help. It’s something I’ve had to teach myself many times over. It doesn’t have to get “all better” to begin to feel better. “All better” is not how real hurts mend. You can’t expect that. But you can expect this: It won’t always be what it is RIGHTNOW, in the throb of it. It won’t, always, forever, feel this same way.
Through multiple rounds of seeking, searching in the dark, feeling broken, I can say that long before all is resolved and healed, something inside can shift. It isn’t magic and it doesn’t take away all the work still ahead. But it… Click To Tweet
In the times I’ve most suffered, in grief and loss and through dry seasons of faith, “better” has always come in slight, small variations. Just tiny changes in internal pressure that signal something is not what it was. The “feel” of the pain is different.
Through multiple rounds of seeking, searching in the dark, feeling broken, I can say that long before all is resolved and healed, something inside can shift. It isn’t magic and it doesn’t take away all the work still ahead. But it helps, to notice the moments when what we carry, shifts.
If you’re walking through your own Time of The Great Owie, and have found Open Table Faith, you are less alone than you were before. It may hurt all the same, but you are now among people who know how to feel the hurts. Who hold open a space for souls convalescing. Settle in here for a while. I’ll look for the remote and bring you a Bomb Pop.