As I drove home after meeting with a coaching client, I noticed a white van ahead of me. The logo of its business was printed across the back doors.
As I adjusted my progressive lenses, I realized the name was actually “Faith Painting.”
Somehow the tiny “i” had disappeared in my first glance.
I have no idea what Faith Painting means or how the company chose their name, but I’m sure they are a reputable company.
And as weird as it sounds, I totally understand what it means to experience “Faith Panting.”
Dogs pant when they are tired. After they run around the yard or chase a rabbit, their tongues hang out and they pant, heaving and sometimes dripping saliva.
When we are tired from the struggles of life, weary from one trial after another and discouraged by the darkness of our days — we pant.
We try to catch our breath and figure out what has happened to us.
When we pant from fatigue, we need to take a break, to rest and let our physical and mental resources build up again.
A cup of water from an encouraging friend helps. A greeting card with just the right words helps dry our tears.
The reminder that God will never leave us or forsake us gives us the strength to breathe steady again.
Cats may pant when they are in pain or distress. It’s a signal for help.
Because cats are so independent, they rarely indicate their needs. But cat lovers can tell when their fur babies hurt.
When we are in pain, we pant with the need to let the hurt escape.
We may try to self-medicate or even numb ourselves to the trauma. We may look to an addiction to replace the hole inside.
But faith encourages us to let someone help us.
When loneliness threatens, call a friend and set up a coffee date.
When family relationships fall apart, schedule a counseling appointment with a trusted wisdom-giver.
When a child suffers, talk to another parent who has been through the same issue.
We often prefer to hide within our independence. We think self-sufficiency will solve the problem and decrease the pain.
But we fool ourselves when we continue to pant and look only to ourselves for a solution.
No matter how isolated our world becomes, we will always need each other.
Healthy relationships help bandage our faith hurts.
Another reason dogs pant is to cool off. The process of panting is the same as when our bodies sweat.
Cooling off to a reasonable temperature helps temper inflammation and heart distress.
We need to cool off when anger consumes us.
But let’s be clear: anger is an honest emotion and often prompts us to take an important action.
Anger that consumes us needs to be addressed before it causes real damage. Anger that is internalized can easily become a numbing depression.
And it can sneak up on us before we realize it.
So how do we successfully pant the angers away?
Acknowledge the Anger.
Speak it with truth, even if you have to confront someone in person, “I am so angry with you.”
As we admit to the anger, we know what we’re dealing with. We can move forward to address it.
Admit that You Need Help.
To cool off, a dog needs water and shade.
To pant our way to health, we need help. A trusted counselor, antidepressants, a plan for returning to a healthy emotional temperature.
A brisk walk increases endorphins and helps anger fade. A listing of gratitudes chases the gloomies away.
Watch a funny video and laugh out loud. Visit someone worse off then you. Ever been to a nursing home for an extended stay?
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have times when faith seems like a weary pant.
That’s when we need to reach for hope.
Nurture ourselves with rest during those discouraging pants.
Ask for help to relieve the pain. Acknowledge how human we are and in need of grace from each other.
We may continue to pant, but at least we’ll move in a direction toward hope-filled faith.
©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For more essays about hope, check out Hope Shines, also available in Large Print.