We’ve got a cage in our living room. There’s plenty of space for a bowl of water, a compact bed and turnaround provisions, but it is, nonetheless, a cage.
Tuffy gives me the sad face. He knows this face works to get what he wants. Droopy eyes. Lowered head. Closed mouth. But not this time. His foot is hurt. He’s staying in the cage.
I’m in my own cage. No bars. No enclosure. But I’m not able to do as I please. Not right now.
Like Tuffy, I’ve been nursing an old injury. Three years ago, I crashed and burned on my bicycle and tore my meniscus in my left knee. As I write this, I’m waiting for the results of my MRI. My doctor suspects the meniscus has been further damaged by the ins and outs of life.
I’ve been in many cages throughout life. Sometimes because of temporary physical limitations that illness bestows upon me. Sometimes because of unpleasant circumstances willed upon me by others. Failed romances. Broken hearts. Job disappointments. Lost opportunities. We try to push through, get to the good stuff, but find ourselves stuck in place, licking a wound.
At first, I cry out for rescue. I whimper like a dog. I give God the droopy face. Open the door. Let me go out and play. As if getting what I want would fix all my problems.
Tuffy probably thinks he’s been a bad dog. I admit there are times I think I’m being punished. What did I do to deserve this?
A 35-pound, fun-loving, mixed-breed pup, Tuffy is a master. My mother-in-law visited a couple of weeks ago, saw Mr. Droopy Face, and became his advocate.
“Can’t he come out?”
“He’s got to rest his foot,” I replied. “It may take several weeks like last time.”
“He seems fine,” she said.
She was right. He looked fine. He’d been in the cage for some 10 days. He wasn’t limping anymore, but I knew if he got on his leg too much, he’d limp again. He wasn’t healed.
“It worked last time,” I said. “We had to keep him in for maybe a month. I don’t want to get him out too early.”
As the days passed, I allowed him out to sit in the living room and then to walk about the house. He’d grab his ball, lying on the carpet.
“Not yet, buddy,” I said.
He hurt his foot this time after a ball-tossing session across the yard. I will deny him one of his favorite activities until he’s completely healed.
Am I being mean? Am I mad at Tuffy? Am I being unloving? Far from it. I actually am doing the most loving thing possible. By caging him and not giving him what he wants, I am making sure he gets stronger. I am making sure he heals, giving him many joyful, playful days ahead.
With his little dog brain, Tuffy does not understand this. I am like Tuffy. I often do not understand why the glorious God, creator of the universe, does not just fix things. It seems perfectly clear to me. Let me out of my cage. I’m fine. I am capable.
I look back at the times God allowed me to sit in a cage, and I often see in hindsight I needed to heal. I needed to learn. I needed to be restricted to enjoy greater freedom and abilities later.
I didn’t finish this blog before my doctor walked in the door, proclaiming, “I knew it, I knew it.”
The old tear in my knee had torn a lot more. If I do not get it fixed, it will likely tear to the point that a fix won’t be as successful. My doctor recommends surgery. I’m in agreement.
So I’ll be in this cage for several more weeks as I await my time in the surgery line. And then there’s recovery. Yes, I’m bummed, but on the other hand, I want to make the most of this time in the cage.
What does God want me to learn while I’m here? What would he have me to do with my recovery time? Maybe write the Great American Novel? Well, my recovery won’t be that lengthy, but I can be productive. Maybe I’ll finally get to those books I bought. Or finish and mail Christmas cards before the week of Christmas. Numerous possibilities.
That’s what I do when I find myself in a cage now. I look for the possibilities. I saturate myself with the healing properties of limitations and solitude. And I look forward to the day the door opens, and I speed into the expansive yard.
Are you in a cage today? God is not finished with you. How will you make the most of this time of limitations?
Copyright © 2019 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com