About two months ago, my husband and I adopted a dog from the local animal shelter, and we named her Belle. We don’t know what her life was like before she arrived at the shelter, but we know that she was picked up as a stray. Whatever she experienced, it must have been awful because she is afraid of every little bump she hears. She spends a good portion of her day hiding in her crate or under our bed. When she is brave enough to hang out with my husband and me, her little eyes are constantly darting here and there to anything that might have made the slightest movement. She keeps her eyes wide open and her ears alert for any change in her environment. To her, the kitchen, which many dogs would claim is their favorite room of the house, is full of terrors such as the dishwasher, the microwave, the blender, and the dreaded ice maker. We have tried to show her that the kitchen is full of delights, even in the harrowing refrigerator, but she refuses to go near it.
On one of our first nights with her, we made the mistake of taking little Belle to a friend’s house. He had a bonfire going, and we thought she would enjoy being outside with his dogs. However, we did not consider the constant pops and crackles of a fire, and Belle was not having any part of it. She pulled and tugged in any direction she could possibly gain an inch away from the fire. I walked her a little bit away from the fire, hoping she would calm down.
As we moved away from the crackling fire, she instead heard dogs howling, owls whooing, the wind whipping, and other sounds of the night. Knowing that these sounds were not a threat, I scooped her up, hoping to console her, but she pushed against me with her long legs and attempted with all her might to leap to the ground. I knew she planned to dash away to some safe haven in the woods where I wouldn’t be able to find her. We wrestled with each other as I desperately tried to hold her in my arms, knowing that she would likely break free from her collar if I put her down.
Belle and I were not in good hearing distance of my husband and his friends who were still sitting by the fire, and suddenly my mind began to race. “My husband can’t hear me…If I go toward the fire, she will fight harder, and she has almost gotten away a couple of times…She’s going to get away from me…I can’t hold her much longer…They aren’t going to come out here anytime soon. I’m trapped.”
The rational part of my brain knew that the situation did not seem that severe. However, I was still panicking, and Belle was still fighting. I shrieked, and my husband and his friends came over. “This is ridiculous. I will not cry. I am not going to…Oh dang it…they can see me crying,” I thought as tears began rolling down my face. My husband gently picked Belle up, and she began to calm down.
It later became clear to me that we had been feeding off of each other’s anxiety. In a situation where I should have been calm, I began to worry which only caused our little dog to be more fearful. I did not have reason to worry, but I allowed myself to get caught up in irrational fears. I have since then watched her as she jumps at the least little noise.
I wish she would find comfort in her new home rather than always being afraid. I wish she could see that she didn’t have to fear all of all the little creaks she hears so that she could fully enjoy the comforts of a home. I wish she could enjoy knowing that the treats are in the kitchen and that she just might get one if she followed us there. Instead, she robs herself of those pleasures because of unnecessary anxiety.
I wonder if God would say the same thing about me. I wonder if he wishes that I would enjoy the life he has given me rather than causing myself to be anxious by trying to create peace and security for myself. He probably sees me panicking over little bumps and creaks that He knows are not a threat. Just as Belle could fully enjoy the comforts of having a home if she were to stop worrying over so many little nothings, I could enjoy life more if I stopped trying being distracted by nagging irrational fears that rob me of the joy God has for me.