In Dog We Trust? No. by Flower Pearson
Warning - awful joke ahead. Fine, go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you …
Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic? He stayed awake all night wondering if there is a dog.
I’m currently reading a book called “Slaying the Giants in Your Life” and it’s all about putting down our preoccupations that clutter up our lives and interfere with our relationship with God. It’s good in the same way that unclogging the plug hole in the bath is good - it’s will make things run more smoothly, I’ll appreciate it afterwards, and it’s involving quite a lot of me trying not to look at the accumulated mess. It’s not an easy read. The issues they talk about are the usual big ones - fear, discouragement, loneliness, worry, guilt, temptation, anger, resentment, doubt, procrastination, failure and jealousy. When I first picked it up and flicked through I thought to myself “well, I don’t suffer with any of this stuff, but I’ll read it so I can tell all my friends and family how to fix their lives”. I don’t think I actually thought those exact words, I probably told myself it would help me empathise more effectively or be more compassionate or discerning in some way, but you get the gist. You can guess where this is going can’t you? Pondering how best to help my friend get the speck of sawdust from her eye led me to notice the old growth forest of giant sequoia in my own. Darn.
I guess when I read the list of chapter titles I didn’t really relate them to my life. I saw the word “jealousy” but related it to envy over physical beauty - something I’ve long ago given up on achieving and, frankly, it’s a huge relief. But when I read the whole chapter I realised that perhaps spending four hours online looking for a dinner service that my Granny once had, is no longer made, and if it was I couldn’t afford it, may actually come under that category. I’m not sure what difference possessing a matching coffee pot, tea pot and plates would make in my life - like playing Jeopardy, I felt sure such a thing was the answer - I just had to figure out the question.
I guess we all tell ourselves that our own experience is somehow different to the mainstream issues mentioned above. I am very comfortable in my faith, I don’t have issues with wondering if God cares for me, if I’m forgiven, if he’s even there. Therefore I don’t suffer from doubt. On a completely unrelated subject - I love to write, some people enjoy what I write and I would love to somehow develop this and “be a succcessful writer” and yet I’ve turned down every opportunity for development that has come my way. I absolutely do suffer from doubt. Very badly. And it is getting in the way of plans God may have for me.
My family has just acquired a dog. He is a retired guide-dog (NOT a retarded guide dog as my 4 year old neighbour called him) and he’s wonderful. He’s spent the last 7 years caring for and working with his owner and has been steadfast in his devotion to duty. Obviously he must be extremely intelligent and well trained to be so completely in tune with his master when he was a working dog, and he is now bringing that same gift to our home.
Recently my husband had a “big”birthday and to mark the occasion a friend of ours created a mannequin which resided outside our home and announced the news to passers by. It has now come inside and is currently sitting in our living room. She used his clothes and shoes and made the whole thing look very like him right down to the hair and the beer can in his “hand”. But it also very obviously is NOT him. The face … the papier mache head … it’s pretty clearly not a person. And yet, the dog keeps putting toys on his knee and sitting in front of it looking longingly and hopefully at it. After a while the dog will give up and curl up at his “masters” feet to sleep. Even when the real Chris is around, he keeps returning to the poor imitation, hoping that THIS TIME he will persuade him to play tug of war or to throw his ball. Even the dog has a blind spot - which for a seeing eye dog is kind of ironic.
But it just goes to show we can never be complacent. And if we’re not careful we can fill our lives with stuff that looks and smells like the thing we need. But it’s just a pile of garbage dressed up to look comfortingly familiar, and stop looking a little harder for the genuine article.