Calm and Assertive

I will confess, I am a huge “Dog Whisperer” fan. Every Friday night I watch each episode on National Geographic channel.

For those unfamiliar with the program, Cesar Millan has been working with dogs most of his life. His creed is that he “rehabilitates dogs and trains humans.” The point being, in most instances, misbehavior in dogs is not an issue with the dog, it is an issue with the owner.

His training mantra is for the owner to be calm and assertive in order to elicit the correct behavior from the dog.  For example, when walking my dog, if I get nervous and anxious when a bicyclist comes by, that energy is transferred to my dog and he gets nervous and anxious. Consequently, he may lunge at the bike, or bark uncontrollably.

Not too many years ago, I was attacked by a couple of stray dogs while out on a bike ride. One was at my front, another was circling behind me. I was yelling for help at the top of my lungs and several cars went around “us” in spite of my attempts to stop them for help. At that moment, I truly thought I was going to die. I thought to myself, “this is going to hurt like hell.” Fortunately for me, someone finally came by and put their car between me and the dogs and the situation was diffused. I have never forgotten that and it is a major reason why I am not riding today.

Now, because we live in NC and many irresponsible dog owners do not fence or tether their dogs, Eli (my dog) and I can often be confronted by dogs on our walk. As you might guess, I am seldom “calm and assertive” and I transfer my fear of that confrontation to my dog and he goes crazy.

I want to be calm. I want to be assertive. However, memory and fear take over. Of course Eli knows nothing of my previous experience, he just picks up on my emotions.  Until I can overcome that fear, I can never expect to calm my dog.

Of course, you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with one’s spiritual journey.  For me, a great deal.

Much of what I do is surrounded by a fear that I will not be successful. Not in my writing. That is a by-product of my life in Christ. My fear relates to being a follower of Christ. I have failed before in that aspect and I fear failing again.  This may be something many of you may not identify with. But for me it is a daily struggle.

  • I fear that sin may cancel all I hoped to accomplish in a day.
  • I fear that God will see me – not my efforts – but me, as not useable in His kingdom work.
  • I fear that if I am honest with people they will not like me or respect me.
  • I fear that sometimes I am fooling myself into believing I can resurrect a meaningful life.
  • I fear that one day I may again have my heart hurt in such a way that it evokes anger and frustration at God.
  • I fear that my mind will never be whole and in tune with the power of scripture.

I fear a lot of things. I am seldom “calm and assertive” as I move forward in following Christ. My steps are often tentative and seem mired in the mud of my past.

This issue is not entirely one of forgiveness. It also involves restoration.

Father, I bring my fear to you. I lay it at the foot of the cross and ask that you would release me from its grip.

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Filed under Discipleship, Fear, Restoration

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