A Story About Dogs – Kind of.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, the kind of breezy fall day that makes me forgive East Texas for August.

I’m sitting by my favorite pond on the ranch with three of my four dogs. They always go with me to this little green jewel, tucked in a small clearing in the woods. We are hidden here. It is where we sniff the air and listen for God.

Photo Credit: Richard Freeman

Photo Credit: Richard Freeman

It’s been a rough week though, and I am totally spaced out. I’m watching the dying oak leaves twirl like hundreds of tiny, yellow dervishes on their way to the water, when this thought presents:

“You need to be confident in my love for you.”

“Confident?”

“Yes, confident.”

I don’t totally get that, so I hold still and wait. Just then, Gracie my ten year-old baby dog walks up from the edge of the water.

When she was an actual baby.

When Gracie was an actual baby.

She sits down, practically on top of me, stares at me plaintively and starts to whimper. I’ve got my arm around her and I’m rubbing her head as the sun warms both of our backs. It’s pretty good, but she keeps crying. She stares at me harder and holds her paw on my leg, like she’s begging me to love her more. And that is impossible.

How can such a good dog be such a neurotic, striving little striver? She’s always earning and proving herself, and I can never convince her to stop. Frankly, it’s kind of tiring. She should know I love her by now. She’s not a baby anymore.

Then I get it. I hear the baseline in the song.

How much time do I waste begging God to love me when I already know he does? How powerful could I be if I quit bargaining and finagling over my value? What if I succumbed to who he says I am – the beloved – and behaved accordingly?

What if you did too? What could we create if we lived consumed by the perfect love that casts out fear?

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

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