(photo courtesy of dogtime.com)
I do a little dog sitting from time to time. It’s not my main gig and every other month I swear I’m never going to do it again. The reality though is that I love dogs and I have fallen in love with a handful of the ones that visit me regularly. I’ve been doing it for sixteen years and I’ve seen some dogs come and go. I’ve taken care of these loves until the end of their lives and then taken care of their family replacement dog. I guess you could say I’ve seen more than several families through multi-generations of dogs.
I have a few dogs that come and, according to their owners, they cry with joy when they turn on my street. They know where they are; they know it’s time for vacation. These dogs burst through the door and race to the back door because they are ready to run and play. There is one labrador that comes who can not wait to swim a few laps. I treat them like family while they are here. They are loved and spoiled. They follow me around, all but ignoring Charlie, because I’m the momma. I’m the one who feeds them and lets them in and out. I’m the one who administers their meds and treats and ear rubs. They trust me.
Every now and then, however, I get a nervous dog. I get one who doesn’t understand why he’s been left in a house with strangers. He doesn’t like the pool or the grass or the strange smells. I have to be careful with nervous dogs. Nervous dogs will bite you in a heartbeat. Even if they’ve never considered biting someone before. Even if they are the world’s sweetest dog at their own house. Nervous dogs are capable of biting your face off.
I have a nervous dog here right now. He’s a great big brown bundle of love. He’s just about the sweetest thing ever. When I open the dishwasher he stands beside me. When I go in the pantry he follows me. He lays on my feet while I’m cooking. When I go to the restroom he lays outside the door and whimpers. He’s so sweet. But he doesn’t want me out of sight. He’s decided I’m safe but that’s it. Just me. Not my family, not my house, and certainly not my back yard. When I let him out to potty he races out and back as fast as he can. And then he barks. He barks loud and fast and nervously. His eyes are wild and the hair on his back stands on end. He does not and will not calm down until he is by my side. If you came up behind him when he was waiting for me to open the door I have no doubt he would snap.
But I love him.
Maybe I love this dog so much because I can totally empathize with him. I have been lost before. I have been confused. I have wondered if I would be okay and it life would ever feel safe again. And when I feel that way I only want my people. I want the people who love me most to sit down and have a meal with me. I want my people to hug me and say it’s all going to be okay; it’s gonna work out.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34
I know it’s a thing. I know it’s real. It’s a command. Do. Not. Worry. But sometimes I worry. Just like this big dog (who is crushing my feet as I sit at my desk and type) I sometimes wonder if I’m going to have all I need to be safe and secure. I worry about whether my people will always be here for me when I need them.
A friend recently told me that worry is when we imagine a future without God. It’s when we think about what’s to come and don’t add God into the equation. We forget his sovereignty. When I first heard this I thought, “No. That’s not how my worry works.”
But actually that’s exactly how my worry works.
When I worry I am totally drained of hope because I’m thinking of all the ways the world will fail me. I forget that I am not of this world. I forget that I am a Child of the King and that His blood runs through my veins. I forget that I am a vessel for the Holy Spirit and that I can do I things through Him who gives me strength. I pace and I pant and I forget.
Worry makes me forget. And forgetting makes me worry. It’s a very vicious cycle.
I am thankful, in these moments, for friends who will meet me for coffee and talk all the worries over. I am thankful for friends who call and let me know they’re praying. I am thankful for a Father who says, “Be still, Child. I am here and I’ve never left your side.”
It’s the remembering that helps rid the worry. It’s when I think about the faithfulness that God has shown in the past that I realize he’s always going to be faithful. It’s friends saying, “Remember that time we prayed for…”
Remembering trumps worry every time.
The big nervous dog will remember in time. After he’s visited a few times he will remember that I never leave him outside too long; that I never make him sit in the rain. He will remember that I give the best treats and that I never skip feedings. One day he will jump out of his owner’s truck and race up my front walk just to lick my face. That’s how you know when you’ve broken the trust barrier with a dog…when they happily lick your face. One day he will stop forgetting.
I hope to one day stop forgetting, too.
This post is Day 23 in the Write 31 Days Challenge I am participating in with lots of fearless writers from around the country. Maybe the world. Maybe the universe.