Invisible Pain as a Trigger

man in black shirt and gray denim pants sitting on gray padded bench

While walking our dog Daisy this morning, I noticed that I still feel some pain in my left hip. The doctor says I have a “mechanical back injury”. This was most likely caused by improper posture during extensive hours in front of a computer (of course, we all know it wasn’t a hockey injury!) It’s been nearly a month of living with this pain, though I am very grateful that I still have mobility.

My movement is slowed for sure and sometimes a limp results from the discomfort. But most of the time, anybody observing me and our dog strolling through the park would not see my pain. But it’s still there.

This made me think about people with emotional pain from trauma or other difficult life situations. We don’t readily observe their pain either. But it’s still there.

Sure, pain symptoms can appear in conversation or unexplained harsh reactions to our words or actions. But we usually don’t connect these dots and often can’t help ourselves when we judge that person or worse, fight back.

Earlier this week near the same park, Daisy and I had just stepped into a crosswalk just a moment after a pickup truck pulled to a stop at the intersection. As we made our way across the narrow street, the pickup proceeded right towards us and suddenly stopped short in front of us about two feet away. The driver quickly blasted his horn as we continued across the street. Quite puzzled, I exclaimed, “This is an intersection.” Right, that was the first thing that came to my mind! The driver and passenger just scowled at us as they sped away.

In chatting later with my wife about our recent brush with death, I pondered that man’s actions seeking some sort of understanding. The best I came up with is that instead of seeing me as a pedestrian (with the legal right of way) he regarded me and my dog as another vehicle at this four-way stop intersection. Perhaps he determined that he was there first and therefore had the right to proceed before us?

But now, as I consider this matter of invisible pain, I really have no idea what the driver of that pickup truck was thinking about or feeling at the time. Sadly, it’s not difficult to look at his irrational behaviour and judge him. We’re all guilty of this.

Only the Lord Himself knows how many times I’ve allowed invisible pain in my life to intrude upon my actions or words. I pray for continued revelation and increased awareness of my own crap… before it spills out like toxic waste in my relationships. And I pray the same for you!

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