A little over a week ago, I had to take my German Shepherd, Jake, to be put down. He was very old and in poor health, and the only merciful thing I could do was to put him out of his silent suffering. For the first time in over a decade, my dog wasn’t at the window when I drove up. There has been no growling at the strays in the front yard, or grouchy nips at the puppies trying to sneak his bone away. The dogs we have left are nothing like Jake, and somehow, their presence only highlights the things I miss so much about him.
I knew I would grieve over him probably more than I would a lot of people I know. What I had not anticipated was just how unprotected and vulnerable I feel without him. Jake had always been super protective of me, and without really ever noticing it, I had come to depend on him for a sense of security from the world outside. I had lost so much of that sense of safety when Chef was gone. Jake had been the last vestige of the security I had once lived in, and with him gone, I felt completely and terrifyingly vulnerable.
I know without doubt, my life is firmly and securely planted in the hands of the Lord. But knowing something and feeling something are not the same. I can control with some precision what I know, but controlling how I feel is almost impossible.
Tuesday, Rebekkah flew to Texas to drive Dad up here to Tulsa. It was a rare night alone in my home, and I was shocked at how anxious I was all night. Every bump in the night was magnified, and my imagination was out of control, and definitely not in a good way.
I suddenly realized just how much I used to take my cues from Jake. If he was concerned about a noise, then so was I. If he blew it off, so did I. We were always in-sync. Ella & the puppies are never on the same page as me. They are still very young, and like all youth, life is still magically safe, interesting, and new. Those 3 dorks are unfazed by cars screeching within inches of their faces. No. They don’t inspire a feeling of protection in me at all.
Once Dad and Rebekkah arrived back home, late yesterday afternoon, I felt better. I not only felt a little more secure, but I felt better about all of the small annoying problems that have been weighing me down.
Simon, after reading my rant about that evil toilet, surprised me by fixing it while I was at work. When I dragged wearily in after a busy day at work, braced for the daily destruction the puppies wreak on my house when left too long to their own devices, there was an unusual silence. Something felt different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I changed out of my work clothes, washed my face, and put the dogs outside. It wasn’t until I saw the empty toilet kit on the dining room table that I realized, the toilet wasn’t running! Just you wait until I see Simon again. I’m going to kiss his face right off of his skull!!
I had more problems to rant about, rounding up the My Ocean of Problems rant series, but I think I am going to end it with this thought.
It is okay to admit life is wearing you out with the never-ending stream of ups and downs it tosses at you. C.S. Lewis put it best when he surmised that every single second of a human being’s life is a raging battle between good and evil. Christians probably understand what that means better than anyone else. We feel our battles more seriously, understanding all too well how hard this war will be for us while we remain locked inside our fallen flesh.
There are going to be times when you feel suffocated by so many bad things coming at you at once, and despite what some churches are teaching you, that does not mean you are being punished by God, or being tested to see if you can remain chipper and care-free. Being a Christian does not mean we must don our best Pollyanna routine and try to fool everyone watching into believing your faith has somehow protected you from feeling down. I’ve seen people put on their brave, super-Christian masks, while behind it, the suffering was so intense it literally seemed to drip from their eyes. We are going to suffer at times. It is okay to say it is bothering us.
I don’t think I am alone is stating, there is something twisted about a person who doesn’t even acknowledge their own life is burning down all around them. Their misunderstanding of how to wage a battle against spiritual problems leaves them impotent, and by the time the destruction becomes real enough it can no longer be ignored, they turn on God for not living up to what they thought His part of the bargain was.
Jesus wept. He showed distress in what His future was about to hold. If our esteemed Example showed how hard life was for Him at that moment, then it is okay for us to be honest too.
Self-delusion does not equate to spiritual strength, and it from the very deepest wounds to our hearts that our strength in the Lord is solidified, His wisdom poured into those wounds like so much healing medicine. Like everything in life, the things that are most valuable to us, cost us the most.
I’ll take it, Lord. It is worth the price.