It's been a bit of a week: GCSEs have started in earnest for my daughter; my son's bullying continues apace at school (with seemingly little intervention from authority); and I have been battling with my wounded thumb.
It is remarkable how much you need your dominant thumb. Pulling cards out of your wallet, turning the door key, holding a pen, typing/texting, picking up cutlery, putting on tights. It hurts. All the nerves are fully exposed at the surface.
I am not enjoying myself. So I keep trying to pretend I can somehow o'er leap the healing process and, after a few days, decreed that I could now leave this gory gash open to the air.
Last Saturday morning early, I went to the Prayer Room at our church. Trying to pray, I was increasingly distracted by the agony of my super-sore thumb. "Better buy some bandaids when I leave," I counselled. "NO!!" screamed my sensory system. "NOW!!" I felt compelled to go upstairs in search of a First Aid box where - oh blessèd relief - I discovered some plasters*.
I could not believe the comfort that small plaster could bring. I kid you not I sat back downstairs in shock sipping my tea, my mind blank. I could not believe it. That sense of childlike relief that my wound had been covered. Protected. Cleaned. So it could properly heal without further interference from my daily world.
It took me straight back to my childhood when I seemed permanently to have a large plaster roaming somewhere on my person at any given time. That sense that Mum had got me, soothed me, and sorted me out.
How much that sense of "covering" alters my world. I had been agitated, tired, and weepy all week from constantly knocking, pressing, or touching this (relatively minor) wound. It seemed like every time I tried to do anything I winced, bit back tears and longed for bed. I was cross with everyone, swearing at my car keys for hurting me and yelping at my dogs when they tried to love me.
I sat in the Prayer Room astonished. What a difference that plaster had made. Not because it instantly healed my thumb, but because I knew it was holding it in place, protected, until it could heal.
My Christian walk is like that plaster. I'm a work in progress with a long way to go, yet I have the knowledge that - as I explore my past and pain - I do so safely and completely covered by my Heavenly Father's love and protection.
He's on it. He's got my number. He's on the case. He's got me. So it does not matter so much how long it takes - wounds take as long as they take - but that God's got me and He is sorting me out in a timeframe that I can bear. He will finish the good work He has begun in me in due time. He won't rip my plasters off and tell me to buck up.
He heals me from the inside until either the plasters fall off, or I become ready to witness the new and redeemed life underneath by taking the plasters off myself.
So I'm going to keep my thumb covered for a few days longer.
I'm not ready yet.
*in America we call them Bandaids.