Today was field trip day for Lauren. A day filled with sweat, dirt, and the requirement of wearing tennis shoes.
Lauren doesn’t mind wearing tennis shoes, but due to sensory sensitivity she cannot tolerate a tennis shoe and sock combo. She always goes sockless. You can just imagine the amount of foot perspiration this causes…
She had a great time on her field trip, but the moment she got in the car, the shoes had to come off. And that’s when the fun started. The feeling of sweat on, around, and in-between her toes was just too much. She cried and cried with her feet held in the air and her toes spread out until we could get home and she could wash them. And it didn’t stop there…
These sweaty strange feeling feet and toes could not come in contact with the floor, so naturally she had to knee scoot all the way from the garage into the bathroom to wash them.
As I watched her scoot into the house I thought, it’s amazing the lengths we will go to, the ways we will bend and twist, in order to avoid anything touching or triggering our most pain filled sensitive places.
If I could teach her anything it would be that sweaty feet and the contact they make with the floor won’t harm her. That she can stand discomfort, learn to sit with it, and the sensation and compulsion to wash will pass…but she isn’t open to that yet. Right now she believes she can’t stand it, and no one is going to tell her different.
And I’ve been there. I don’t have sensory processing issues, but there are times I struggle to sit with emotional pain and discomfort. Part of me knows the pain feelings will pass and that I can stand them, but there are days I want to run to the bathroom and wash them off.
I’ve tried swishing them around in the soapy water of avoidance, but it hasn’t worked yet. In fact, when I try to avoid pain, it just spreads deeper and wider.
The thing that often cleanses pain is to stop trying to wash it off in the first place. Sometimes we just have to accept it for what it is. That there is no need to avoid, or bend and twist. To realize the proverbial sweat on and in-between our toes won’t kill us. That pain is tolerable.
Easier said than done. I get that. Sitting with pain feels foreign and awkward especially if you grew up masking, hiding, and tieing a big red bow around your emotional state to make it more presentable. But not all feelings have a big red bow. Sweat is just sweat. Pain is just pain. And sometimes crap is just crap. There’s no need to waste effort avoiding it, because it’s present whether we find it palatable or not.
I love what The Bible says in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
What a blessing that is. To be content in knowing our soul has been harvested by Christ, and that no matter how much discomfort life causes, we will choose to sit with it and be okay because He gives us strength. We don’t have to knee scoot to avoid, and no matter what life pitches our way, as long as we have Jesus, we will be okay.