The arrival of Leaping Laird d'Lux Luther has brought about a pretty dramatic change in our lives. To say the least.
I don't know who's learning more, me or Luther.
Yes, he's learning/learned all about 'potty' and 'doing the business' outside. . . . 'come', 'heel', 'leave it', 'stand', 'back', 'lie down', 'stay' and 'NO!' are all words in play - at least - if not acknowledged commands, commands which lead to the commanded action [or inaction].
What I've learned: leash and poo-bags should be close at hand at all times.
I've learned that I have to be careful what I allow the wee lad, as he will escalate it. Viz., what I thought was a cute playful attack on a peony blossom quickly turned into all-out war on all flowers and plants. His first conquest - a red peony blossom pulled off the bush - has had amazingly long-life, and he pounces on the spent blossom every time we enter the back yard. I've never seen a longer-lived blossom! Every peony I've ever cut has promptly shed all its petals within a day, if not immediately. This thing is now like a dried red pom-pom, and I haven't quite had the heart to take it from him, he seems so proud of it.
Unfortunately, he also still tends to go for the few now-dried peonies that remain on the bush. "Leave it! only gets you so far.
I've learned that he has atrocious judgment with respect to what he will put in his mouth (a), chew (b), and actually swallow (c). I have been trying to keep a very close eye on him because I'm not entirely sure he won't kill himself! A recent arrival of rather smelly mulch at our rental house makes me wonder what's on it. Luther seems to like it. I know he likes chewing it, but it appears he might also be swallowing it. . . . That can't be good for him. That, or the rocks, or the concrete, or the brick he likes to gnaw on.
I've had three things on my mind: (1) don't let him even start doing something you're not going to let him continue doing, (2) consistency: don't ever let him learn that he can get away with something if he just keeps on trying until he wears me down, and (3), be careful that the corrections themselves don't teach him something even worse. So I try to remember that clapping - or yelling - when he barks effectively "celebrates" that behavior, and he can be expected to bark all the more. Likewise, when he whines. I can be "rewarding" his whining by arriving on demand [as far as he knows] and seeking to quiet him by "comforting" him.
"Look how he misses me. . . ."
Right. Look how he's just learned how to get me to come when he calls!
It wasn't a very far step for me to see how my relationship with God is very much analogous.
It's a little embarrassing to think that He's using my training a puppy to show me what a brat I have been/can be. . . . and to teach me a bit more about Himself when I consider the techniques I use in dealing with Luther.
Here at the beginning of Luther's new life with us, I have been with him almost constantly - and yet I have also scheduled times apart, as he will need to learn to be on his own, without getting into trouble. He's been safe, and we've been close at hand, and yet he's been unhappy to be alllll alllooooooone. . . . booo hoooooo. . . . .
Man, did that start to sound like me! Where are you, Father God? What have I done? Why am I allllll alllooooone. . . . .
The other thing that has been difficult for him - and therefore also for me - is that he doesn't totally get it that I've "got it": he's going to be ok. . . . he's going to have food, and people who love him, and a nice place to sleep and play, and go for walks, and toys to play with, not to mention wonderful food to eat (if only he would eat his food. . . . instead of rocks, poison mulch, bird ka-ka, rug fringe, and concrete - not to mention brick, although he may be more interested in the mortar in between, it's hard to tell). I'm in charge, and I'm going to [TRY to] take care of him, in spite of himself.
I remember one day early in my walk with God, driving to my office. I don't remember the circumstances exactly - was I was perhaps complaining or whining about something? Or maybe (more I was just quietly driving, praying, as quickly became my habit while driving. What I do remember is becoming aware of God's words - passionately "spoken" - You are Mine. Along with those words, I had the sudden realization that all the obligation and responsibility in our relationship was on HIM - that that is what He was saying, that my being His meant that He would take care of everything - that everything was really looking up for me, because He was in charge. It was not about me being enslaved, or restricted, or pent-up at God's malicious whim. It was God effectively saying: "You don't get it. You're mine, and I'm not going to lose you or let anything bad happen to you! You're mine! Remember? Relax."
I laughed right out loud! I cried. I remember the feeling of intense joy, relief and utter contentment vividly, as if it was yesterday. It was probably 14 years ago.
I wish I could explain something similar to Luther. But it is time and experience that will do that, if at all (meaning: I wish I were more capable of ensuring that I won't lose him or let anything bad happen to him. . . . ) In the meantime, then, I have to make sure as best as I can that - over time - Luther's experience is a good one. That he learns the proper cause and effect, and that I am faithful to continue to keep him away from what will hurt, kill and maim him, and faithful to continue to encourage those actions that will be of benefit to him both when he is with me, as well as when he is [momentarily] on his own.
I was cooking this morning when all this came clear. All would yet be well, and we would go play, but right now, he needed to learn to chill out and just be. Just wait. Just trust. Just hang out with me, who was right there!
He did well, did little Luther. He whined several times. He got disciplined for persisting in trying to pull my apron off its hook. He successfully left the door stop alone, which I've been teaching him not to chew - for that, he got a treat. He discovered a fly and had a great time trying to catch it, during the course of which he almost learned to open the screen door. . . . It was a close call. I do not wish him to learn that lesson!
I locked the screen.
Looking again to my life, I can see where God has locked my screen door in the past. I thought of the many times I've doubted God's hand in where I was at the moment. Was I in the right place? Doing the right thing? At the right time? Or was I missing out, somehow? Did I need to go somewhere else, or work harder, or grab hold more firmly?
I finally begin to catch just a glimpse of the 'life of faith' so many Christian writers talk about. In many ways, it's not all that different than Luther's life with us, except of course that poor Luther isn't dealing with God, he's dealing with little ole me, a fallen being albeit made in God's image. . . .
It's written in ancient scripture that without faith, it's impossible to please God. Lux Luther has shown me how that's true. Conversely, he's also shown me how how pleased I imagine God can be when I do have faith that God IS, that He's in control, and that 'goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, as I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. . . .'
Let it be a lesson to you, Luther.
ooops - shhhh - he's sleeping. Finally. Thank you, Father. . . . sigh. I am pleased. And I pray God is pleased - too - with me, as I find myself quite content to just be here with Him today. For now, I just "know" that all will be - and is - well, and that I'm exactly where He wants me to be, and that when it's time to go out, or eat, or whatever, God will let me know.
Like I said: I don't know who's learning more, me or Luther.
But I'll let it be a lesson to me.