Lily is a lunger. I stopped walking her for a week because a back muscle spasm left me doubtful I possessed the strength to control her without incapacitating myself. Its embarrassing really, an indictment on our dog parenting skills, to have such an ill-behaved dog.
She seems ferocious with her heavy chain collar we bought to walk her. Don’t judge y’all.
It helped a little but didn’t keep her from pulling when she approached the big Collie she dislikes. Some dogs she likes and some she can’t stand. She can’t stand that glorious Collie. It’s hard to know how she judges or what they’re saying to her that sets her off. We just walk past, heads hung, sheepish smiles of apology on our faces as our dog barks her face off.
Our neighbors wouldn’t know she spends most of the time in our home sacked out on a couch or bed, completely docile. She behaves like an attack dog in public. I’m sure we’ve avoided a break in just due to her behavior on walks in our neighborhood.
We went to the pet store to look at lizards, my son’s absolute favorite category of the animal kingdom. We wandered into the leash aisle and browsed a bit before spotting a box with an idyllic picture of a cute dog on a walk.
What must that be like I wondered?
We agreed it was a lot to spend for a thin cord contraption but I’d seen other dog parents using it. Their dogs did what I wanted Lily to do. They walked beside their owner and generally behaved themselves. I admired their behavior and thought I’d like to walk my dog in a similar, calm fashion. My son convinced me the purchase was inevitable.
So, I bought the new lead and wondered what would happen when we put it on Lily. Could this little cord really hold back 35 pounds of dog torque? Ok, you’re laughing but it’s a lot when she she sees a deer and imagines the kill.
I was doubtful. I saved the receipt and my son and I expressed gratitude that the box wasn’t one of those contraptions that needed a box cutter to open. We opened it without losing a finger and raised our eyebrows. It was small and thin for what it claimed it could accomplish.
We finally figured out how to put it on Lily and everything changed.
She went wherever I led her. A new problem emerged, our leash dragged on the ground and got under her paws. Trucks went by, she hardly noticed. Bunnies jumped and she just glanced at them. We walked by the yard of her arch nemesis, Cujo we call him, and she reacted not a bit.
Lily was a new dog.
A tiny bridle-like leash brought her to submission in an instant. She’s going to get more walks now. She will make new friends. People might break into our house but at least we can show our faces in the neighborhood without folks checking to make sure she’s up to date on her rabies vaccine.
I’m going to look like a queen with my medium sized dog walking right beside me.
Being a city girl…ok, a suburb girl…I never saw the power of a bridle quite so clearly until now. And, of course, it reminds me of more than just controlling animals.
Small things can control big things. Small things can turn powerful things. Small things can do big things. James, Jesus’ brother, connected this phenomena to our personal lives. Our tongues. Our speech.
It wreaks havoc in our lives, sets things on fire. The only way out, the only way to bring it in check is to submit our whole selves to Jesus Christ’s gentle lead.
This year I can’t believe some of the things said by people I used to respect. Insults that were off limits in the past got plastered across social media. I grieved the evidence of what lay in the hearts of so many. It became evident we couldn’t control much and tongues wagged, set things on fire and burned relationships to the ground.
I can’t believe things I’ve said in my life, things I deeply regret and needed forgiven. When I begin to see the power of my words it is sobering. How can I have such power to speak words that hurt so deeply? Yet I do, we all do.
It became so common place to breathe out angry words, it was held up as being brave and honest. I think, in reality, it was just a power play, a stab at controlling…something.
Now here we are, divided, suspicious, and scared because we did not put on that bridle and submit ourselves to God who gives the power to resist those forces that tempt us to try and control what we never could control.
I know the arguments.
What if He leads us on a way we don’t want to go? What if it hurts, what He wants us to do for Him? What if we suffer? What if we’re not the winners in this world but we look more like losers.
Jesus told His follower, Peter, what to do under such circumstances…you must follow Me.
Peter, you follow Me and you will lose earthly power and reputation, you won’t even get to dress yourself or decide the next place you sleep.
And Peter submitted to Jesus but somehow I sense we forget. I know I forget.
I forget that life with Christ was never about power but about sacrifice. It was never about my way, but His Way. The call to follow Jesus was never about being in control and it was always about making disciples.
So if I submit to Him, maybe my tongues will stop lunging at other people and I’ll look like Jesus a little more. He’ll seem a little more like who He is because I display who He is a little more accurately.
At least, that’s what I hope for myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever get comfortable with the bridle this side of heaven but I know I need it…desperately…and I know I’m not alone.