Disclaimer: I am going to offend some of you with my dislike of small dogs. Please forgive me this one time and try to keep an open mind to my bias, for illustrative purposes.
I have a strong distaste for little dogs. To me they are yappy, unpredictable, nippy, excitable and often exhibit a frenetic disposition which I detest. Give me a Great Dane, Retriever, Collie or even a Pit Bull and I'm happy - it's those little yippy Terriers and Shih Tzus that put me on edge. Yes, I had a bad experience being chased by a hyper, territorial, curly haired little devil when I was a child so I agree that I am biased. But my feelings about small dogs lend well to the point I'd like to illustrate today in my blog, so I'll ere to the side of my feelings about dogs and carry on with my thoughts for today.
I went for a run outside on Tuesday, and it was exceptionally nice to be outdoors in the fresh Spring air (crossing my fingers that Spring is actually here to stay!). I was in one of the newer neighborhoods in the city, the kind that has houses backing along a greenspace, with short chain-linked fences overlooking a pretty pond and wetland. There is a pathway all around the lake - so you end up running in between these people's yards and the pond and grassy hills. I came around a bend in the pathway, and suddenly heard the sound of barking. It was the kind of sound that catches you off guard and makes you jump a little, in anticipation of a potential threat. Then I saw them! There were two little terriers with their curly white hair, beady little black eyes and sharp teeth. They raced along the fence as I ran past, jumping and barking and snarling and being a general nuisance. However, to their credit, they were doing their best to defend their territory!
Once I realized that there was no real threat, just noise and the theatrical appearance of little dogs trying to get at me, I gave a scoffing look over my shoulder and raced away, down the path. I went back to enjoying the sights and sounds of spring - melting snow, birds chirping and the famous Lethbridge wind that was at this point increasing my speed with it's forceful push against my back! I forgot all about the dogs and began to make another loop around the lake when I was startled once again by their incessant barking! I glared at them for a second as I ran past, only slightly annoyed but not deterred from enjoying my run.
I've noticed that worry is like a little dog in a fenced yard. (See! Here's where I tie it all together, and you forgive me for hating little dogs because of the interesting point I have to make!) Anyway... back to the worry: It seems that you can be cruising through life and certain things pop up at you, with their loud, aggressive voices, trying to get your attention and frighten you. Most of worry's power is in its voice - it is the idea, the feeling, the mulling over of certain thoughts that make you feel weak in the knees.
Worry is something that is repetitive and often more about the "bark" than the bite. Whatever it is that you worry about - money, your kids, your health - it feels very real and concerning. The fears can tumble around in your mind with a great ability to distract. The more you focus on the worry, the more powerful it can become in your mind, and the more crippling to your perspective and ability to successfully maneuver in your daily activities.
What I have learned, however, is that you have to fence in the worry. Those little dogs may have represented little terrors in my mind - I could already see myself trying to run away, with them nipping and biting at my heels! Then, I would turn and face them, knowing that I had about 100 pounds on them and I should be able to stand my ground. Then I would resort to kicking, hoping that they didn't latch their ravenous little mouths onto my ankles..... Oh, ya... there was fence to protect me!
I have found that no matter how loudly our worries and concerns can blare at us, there is something to guard your heart and mind.
Philippians 4:7 says: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
When I am worried and fretting about things in my life, I quickly have to step back and consider whether or not I am allowing the peace of God to guard my heart and mind. If I am taking all the responsibility onto myself as to whether or not I'll be safe, whether my family will be safe, whether we'll have enough money and whether the Mayan calendar is correct and the world is going to end on December 21, 2012.... if I let those things pile up in my mind and become fears and worries to hold onto - then I am not trusting God. Trusting God doesn't mean that those issues are ignored, but just like the little dogs behind the fence, the peace that God gives can reign in those fears and worries so you can carry on with your life.
One of the best things about God's kind of peace is that it surpasses all understanding. This means, that even when things don't make sense, you can still be at peace in your heart. We often give more power to thoughts and worries than we ought to and they develop an unreasonable force in our minds. When you reign in these thoughts by giving your fears to God, He offers a peace that keeps the "worry dogs" under control. Prayer, and essentially telling God what is bothering me and asking for his help, makes all the difference in my life when it comes to worry and fear.
With that, I will end my rant on small dogs. If you have a small dog whom you love dearly, please don't take offense. I will probably never get along with small dogs, but at least God has used them to teach me a lesson!