The Worry-Free Life of Dogs

Our home is filled with barking, licking, dog hair, and all the dog toys you can imagine, thanks to our three dogs, Tipper, Moe, and Pedro.  I’ve often wondered how I ended up with three dogs, usually blaming my husband who has a weakness for puppies and kept bringing them home.  But I think that there is a lesson for me in living with dogs, and that’s the value of the present moment.

I tend to be a planner, feeling the need to prepare in advance for everything.  One of the ways that I find myself trying to prepare for the future is by imagining all the various outcomes (usually bad ones), and how I would respond.  Another name for this practice is worry.

Recently, I read this quote from Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom:

          Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

            I found this quote to be true in my own life.  As I imagined how I would respond in the event of a crisis or other negative situation, I found my heart rate increasing and my stomach tightening, exhibiting the physical signs that accompany a stressful situation.  It also affected my outlook, in that I felt alternately fearful and relieved when what I imagined happening never transpired.  This worry sapped my strength and my positive outlook because it made me think I only had myself to rely on, forgetting I have a heavenly Father who has included me and only wants the best for me.

Then I began watching my dogs.  They spend most mornings lying around in the sun, sleeping, perhaps chewing a plastic bone or two.  When mealtimes come, they usually start following me around, sitting at my feet, giving me that “look” until I feed them.  Then they’re off for more sleeping or playing, not even imagining for one second that I won’t feed them their next meal.  They never worry that they could be hit by a car, or lost, or attacked by a wild turkey (we have a few in our neighborhood).  They live at peace with the moment, confident that they will be taken care of.

And so should we.  When Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34), he was saying that we should live in the present day, or the present moment, dealing with issues that directly confront us and not trying to deal with them ahead of time through worry. I like how this verse is paraphrased in The Message:

            Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (Matt 6:34)

Because we live in a world affected by brokenness, we will have times of suffering and loss.  What we have to believe is that when those times come, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will give us the strength, the comfort, and the wisdom we need to meet those challenging situations.  Worrying about them ahead of time doesn’t really prepare us or help us to deal with them more effectively.  It simply robs us of the joy and peace we could be experiencing right now.

Having three dogs can make our home somewhat chaotic at times, especially when a rabbit family makes its appearance in our backyard.  The dogs haven’t prepared for this moment by thinking about how they would respond if they saw a rabbit or two in our yard.  They react with the typical behavior you would expect, with lots of barking and jumping at the door.  When the rabbits decide they’ve heard enough and move on to our neighbor’s yard, the dogs relax and revert to calmer behavior.  I’m trying to adopt this “present moment” mentality, remembering that the Triune God will always provide the strength, courage, and hope that I need for any situation I face, but not until that “rabbit” is actually in my yard.

 ~by Nan Kuhlman


 

8 comments so far

  1. Beth Cogley on

    Nan, I think I need to remind a certain *other* Matt of the quote you used above (“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34)). Great article!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Beth,
      Thanks for commenting! Maybe he could just learn a thing or two from Shadow.
      Nan

  2. Boyd Merriman on

    In other words, no need to be out “hunting wabbits”

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Boyd,

      I can assure you…the “wabbits” will find you!

      Nan

  3. tjbrassell on

    Hello Nan, and thanks for this confirming post! 🙂

    I say confirming because I was just in a conversation with Baxter Kruger a week before you posted this where he told me he is learning to live more like a dog. He went on to explain that to live like cats is to say “Ho-hum, today is the 427th day of being and doing the same old thing, and stretch out in sleep again”, whereas living like a dog is to “get up everyday wagging your tail and being caught up in the food, the hunt and the chase, the discovery, and to not miss any of the bright and beautiful colors and smells of everything!”

    I was excited by his comment because just prior to him calling I had decided to live more “dog like” based on a Karl Barth Quote I had just read. In fact I created new words for my tombstone based off of it! He, in turn, got excited by my response and asked me to send him my quote. Here is what I wrote to him:

    “Here is the quote from Barth, taken from the preface to the fifth edition of his Epistle to the Romans:

    ‘I have just come across the following lines written by a pastor in Hessen, who is personally unknown to me. They fit my position so well, that they might have been addressed to me:

    God needs men, not creatures
    Full of noisy, catchy phrases.
    Dogs he asks for, who their noses
    Deeply thrust into—Today,
    And there scent Eternity.
    Should it lie too deeply buried,
    Then go on, and fiercely burrow,
    Excavate until—Tomorrow.

    Yes, God needs…! I wish I could be such a hound of God – Domini Canis – and could persuade all my readers to enter the Order.’

    In my mind, I have translated all of this into a new motto for myself (words on my tombstone?): “He [Timothy] was a sinful blood hound in pursuit of the Divine Fox!” I think that is a mixture of me, this quote, Barth, [Capon] and the Spirit in it all 🙂

    Glad to be in the same “doggy” spirit with my mentor! And now with YOU! HaHa! 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Tim,

      Your comment is worthy of being its own blog post! I love the poem and your motto/epitaph. Although the concept of living in the present moment is often associated with Buddhism or New Age writers, I do think that the practice of it has value for Christians, too. When we are so caught up in what we are going to do next, we miss the beauty of what’s happening right now. So…here’s to fiercely burrowing and excavating every moment of Today!

      Nan

  4. Jerome Ellard on

    Something else that comes with “living like a dog,” is how we look at others in our world/household, encapsulated in this saying on my step-son’s bathroom mirror: “May I be the person my dog thinks I am!” Besides the benefit of the doubt, may I give everyone more natural affection!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jerome,

      I like the saying, “May I be the person my dog thinks I am!” I would also add to that, “May I be as forgiving as my dog is!”

      Thanks for your comment!
      Nan


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