If I were still a Christian, I would have a great analogy here.
Toast (pictured above) (the furry one) has been with us now for about 3 months. Our foray into having a dog trainer come and help us was a bit of a disaster. “Mike” the dog trainer apparently has his own dogs who are trained so well that he can just look at them and they know to recite the alphabet while standing on one leg. But Mike’s instruction to us didn’t work. He instructed us to ignore Toast when he jumps up on us, and to give him something appropriate to chew on when he mouthed or bit us. Sounds gr-r-r-r-r-r-eat! EXCEPT THAT KEPLER IS TOO SMALL TO DO THIS. Keppie did try to “be a tree” when Toast jumped, but as Toast grew, Kepler didn’t grow and it became unmanageable to expect Kepler to be able to stand fast when Toast jumped on him.
And with one thing and another, gradually I started to feel like this dog ownership thing was not for me! I do know that it is, as I heard many years ago, a goal big enough to demand my best. I want my dog to make my life easier, not harder. But a dog has to be trained and guided, else he’s going to be acting in ways that are REALLY not compatible with having a small child.
As it so happens, Greg spoke with a different dog trainer on the phone yesterday who told us Toast should be on leash or otherwise under our control at all times. AS IT SO OFTEN HAPPENS, something very basic like that has tremendous power to change my experience.
And here’s the analogy. Putting Toast on leash gave him structure and confidence that someone else was in charge. Without that confidence, he was unable to control himself and was pretty much bouncing off the walls. Jumping up on my me, jumping up on Kepler, jumping up on the furniture, grabbing things off the counter, just generally being a poorly trained dog, but doing what came naturally to him.
As a Christian, I used to think that it was nice to know that God was in charge, and that I could have confidence that Someone was in charge of things. I am completely fine with not having that point of view anymore, but I still see how valuable it is for a being (Toast) who is obviously dependent on a higher-order being (his sometimes clueless owners) to know that his owner can be trusted and depended on to be consistent, to set boundaries and enforce them, and to love him the way he needs to be loved.
So, I’m off to make mashed potatoes for 20. No doubt I will make way more than these 20 people will eat, because my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than peoples’ stomachs, but no matter.