Once, there were two little girls. I remember them from a distance, but knew neither of them personally. I was merely a bystander who looked on, getting a small glimpse into their hearts.
I saw the first little girl one afternoon as I was sauntering along the sidewalk near the park. Probably six or seven years old, she walked with her father in my direction. Just as our paths were about to cross, the little girl tripped and fell on the concrete. She let out a scream so piercing that I thought she must have broken her leg or torn a ligament.
After the damage was assessed, however, all she had was a skinned knee. I noticed that her father responded immediately to her dramatic cry. He bent down next to her, brushed her off, wrapped his arms around her, and told her she would be okay. After a few moments, she calmed down and continued down the sidewalk, hand in hand with her dad.
A few months after witnessing this mini-drama, I was overseas, working in an orphanage of adorable, rambunctious children. It was there I saw the second girl. I was outside playing with the children, trying to keep the enjoyable chaos under control. A little ways from where I was, I saw the little girl take a pretty hard fall against the ground. When she stood up, I could see that she had scraped her knee. But this girl didn’t let out a loud cry like the other had. She actually didn’t cry at all. She didn’t ask for help. She told no one of her hurt.
I continued to watch her. With bleeding knee, she walked away from the crowd of children and, reaching up toward a tree, pulled off some green. She sat down by herself and began to blot her wound with a leaf.
Two little girls fell and skinned their knees, but their reactions to their hurts were oh-so-different.
The first little girl was with Daddy. She knew when she fell that crying was okay. Daddy was there to wipe away the tears. She knew that admitting she hurt was allowed. Daddy would tend to the wound. She knew that a little drama was permitted because Daddy was there to comfort and calm her.
However, the little orphan girl didn’t have the same confidence that there would be someone there to comfort her in her hurt. No tears came from her eyes. Who would be there to wipe them away? Had anyone ever been there for her to blot her tears or to tell her that crying is allowed? Had anyone ever been there to hold her in those times when she most needed to be held?
Alone she sat, using a leaf to bandage her bleeding leg. How much greater the hurt of her bleeding heart. And when I saw her, I wondered how deeply the pain was buried inside of her.
I found myself questioning which little girl I am most like. When life’s brushes against the concrete leave my heart bleeding, do I grab onto my Father’s hand, or do I search for something else to cover up that wound?
When we know confidently that we have a Father who comforts us when we hurt—One who can bring healing to those wounded places—we give ourselves permission to feel, to cry out, to open our hearts, to receive from Him.
But when we don’t trust that we will be comforted, we’ll run from the hurt, we’ll make our attempts to ignore the pain… and we’ll go grab our “leaf.”
Truth is, we may have pretended to have it all together in those hurting times, but try as we might, we just can’t fully trick our hearts into believing it. It takes energy to lock our hearts, and all of that effort to “get ourselves together” only reveals a lack of trust in the Comforter. What are these things that we falsely bandage ourselves with? Food, media, sleep, daydreams, drink, drugs, relationships, busyness, shopping—the list goes on and on. While the leaf may cover up the wound, it will not heal it.
So when it gets hard, when I get knocked down, when it hurts, I remind myself not to be afraid to “fall apart”… not falling into despair, but falling into the Father’s arms and into His hope and comfort.
Let the tears flow. Allow yourself to feel. When we bury it, it stays locked inside of us. But when we let ourselves feel the hurt and invite God into the wound, only then can we be cleansed and healed. We can trust that our Father is true to His name, the God of all comfort. He will hold us close, carrying us through whatever difficulty, harm, or trial may come—if we let Him.