From the Hills: What Do You Do With a Chance?

By Sylvia Peterson
Posted 8/8/22

Have you ever wondered how God heals our deep emotional hurts? You know the ones I’m talking about — the pain that lingers long after the offense has ended. These are not the little …

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From the Hills: What Do You Do With a Chance?

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Have you ever wondered how God heals our deep emotional hurts? You know the ones I’m talking about — the pain that lingers long after the offense has ended. These are not the little scrapes and bruises we incur that are part of being human, and sharing our lives with other people who are also human. I’m talking about the memories that still bring bitter tears to our eyes.

What are God’s tools, His methods, and His strategies? How does He reach through our skin and into our heart, and transform our wound into a place of tender learning?

We each have a chance to heal in the context of sharing our personal stories.

This week, I was reminded that when we hear the painful stories of others, it sometimes causes us to recall a similar experience in our own past. When that happens, it hurts all over again. People in recovery call this “a trigger.”

 So, what is a trigger?

A trigger is a reminder of past trauma. It can cause a person to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic. It may also cause someone to have flashbacks, a vivid, negative memory that appears without warning.

I recently spoke at Celebrate Recovery about forgiving people who have harmed us. There are many offenses that seem irresolvable. My story triggered a few of the other women who have had similar experiences. Our leaders wisely dealt with the aftermath.

Most of us will run like crazy from stories that trigger us. We don’t want to remember our pain.  Who would?

However, if we understood that God’s healing plan lives within our triggers, we wouldn’t run from them. We’d take a deep breath and run into that murky darkness. Each trigger is a chance. What would you do with a chance to heal, a chance for the pieces of your life to be reconciled by grace?

During a random stop at the Barnes and Noble bookstore Saturday, I found a beautiful children’s book titled, “What Do You Do With a Chance?” by Kobi Yamada. The cover flap says this:

“What would you do with a chance? Especially one that seems too big or too wild or just out of reach?

"Do you hold back? Do you act like you don’t care? Do you let it slip away?



"This is the story of some remarkable chances and the child who doesn’t know quite what to do with them. But the more chances come around, the more the child’s fascination grows. And then, one day, a little courage makes all the difference in the world.

" … You never know when a chance, once taken, might be the one to change everything.”

Just when we forget about our wound, someone says or does something that triggers us.

That’s when we have two choices: run away as fast as we can while trying not to slip on our own tears, or breathe into the moment and see it as a chance for our healing.

I’m convinced that God allows triggers because He loves us so much that he wants us to be whole. He wants to take our healing deeper and farther and with greater sustainability than we can ever imagine.

 There are numerous gospel stories of medical miracles done by Jesus. He usually asks a question first. “Do you want to be healed?” Perhaps he is really inquiring, “Do you want this to be your chance?”

When our story triggers someone else’s pain, it doesn’t mean we should have kept silent. It usually means God wants to give them a chance to experience His healing love.

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Sylvia Peterson is former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net.



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