Lovable, but not a genius. That’s Grendl, the white, not-so-miniature schnauzer we adopted from my folks when they moved to a senior residence. She had been, in large part, leash trained. Very seldom had she gotten a chance to run free. She’d been content as a refined, in-door, pampered lady in my folk’s home. That is, until she came to live with us and met Goliath. He’s our little, white, Maltese-shitzu. Our wild child!
Our large, fenced-in backyard became a huge playground for them both. Her old legs revived as the dogs chased one another – and every car, bike, truck, bus, and skateboarding pedestrian that passed by! She taught Goliath to bark, and he taught Grendl to run.
But one day, these two friends found the gate open.
Now, I don’t know how a doggie brain works, but knowing these two pups, I’d guess Goliath showed not one moment of hesitation as he raced into the world. But, I imagine Grendl paused before she chased after him. Regardless, off they trotted into the unknown together.
It wasn’t long before we realized they were gone, but it didn’t take long to locate them. Silly dogs had gone around the house next door and wound up in the neighbor’s also fenced backyard. When I called to them, they both came running, Goliath straight to my arms, but Grendl to the position pictured above. 🤣
That sweet, dumb dog (sorry, Mom!) thought she was trapped. I don’t care how many times I coaxed her from outside the gate, she still continued to woefully, repentantly stare at me from behind the fence. I actually had time to jog home, grab my phone, and return to take her picture. She hadn’t budged. I had to enter the fenced area and gently lead her through the exit, laughing the entire way home!
Oh, dear dog. I’m sorry I laughed at you. I’ve been there, too, and feeling trapped is not a funny feeling.
I’ve not often found myself in that situation physically, but I’ve been there emotionally numerous times. It’s a desperate, frightening, lonely feeling. And, like you, I’ve watched friends run free while I’m left behind, encased by bars too narrow to slip through.
Being emotionally trapped often provides special challenges. If my friends realized I was trapped at the bottom of a deep, physical well, they would quickly run to my aid with buckets, ropes, and ladders. Some would even meet me at the top with dry towels and warm clothes. IF they knew I was trapped.
But being trapped emotionally makes rescue more unlikely. The fence often remains invisible to others. That’s not their fault. It’s merely the truth. None of us can read minds. (It’s kind of like my trying to read the puppies’ brains!)
So, two questions arise. One, what can I do when I’m feeling enclosed by pain, uncertainty, fear, financial or health concerns, relationship hurt, addiction, loneliness, or any other cage from which I see no escape? I can look up and lock eyes with the One Who can set me and anyone else free.
“But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me, my glory, and THE LIFTER UP OF MINE HEAD.” Psalm 3:3
I have a Saviour, and His Name is Jesus. He is the way to freedom. Wherever I find myself, I can find Him. It matters not if my entrapment is the result of my own unwise choices, or if it’s due to circumstances over which I had no control. He sees me. He loves me. He will make a way for me.
Personally, I find my greatest release in my time of Bible study and prayer. My time with the Lord draws my attention away from earthly problems and sets my focus upon His love. Once in a while, He points me to the path leading out of my problems. He comes alongside and gently leads me to liberty. Sometimes He lovingly shows me I’m not nearly as “trapped” as I thought. The gate beside me is already open. But whether or not He chooses to alter my circumstances, He always sets my spirit free! He is the Friend Who knows how I feel, and He cares. As I come to know Him better, I am encouraged to know how kind and capable He is on my behalf. And, “trapped” with Jesus by my side is not at all fearful!
As I travel through life, and if I remain attuned to the innermost needs of those around me, I will find others who feel the claustrophobic pains of entrapment. Thus, the second question remains: how can I help others?
I don’t suggest you run home, grab your camera, and race back to take their picture to post on social media like I did to Grendl! Rather, come quietly alongside them, comfort them, lead them to the gate of freedom whenever possible, and simply be a supportive friend. Pray for them. Send a “snail mail” note of encouragement or drop off a donut and cup of coffee. Remind them of the Saviour’s intense and personal love.
Do not avoid them because you don’t know what to say. Sometimes there are no words, but a shoulder always works! Do not allow them to feel forgotten or forsaken. Sometimes, it takes very little difference to make a difference.
Grendl ran off several more times, and sometimes we had difficulty finding her. But we always looked until we found her. She was always relieved to see us and come back home. The tail wags and cuddles were our reward.
How much sweeter to see the shy, appreciative smile from a grateful friend. Just because you were there.
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:2,3