“Me and my Arrow, straighter than narrow. Wherever we go, everyone knows it’s me and my Arrow.” – Me And My Arrow (1971) Written and recorded by: Harry Nilsson
Ah, the dog days of summer. Finding those video clips on Facebook just kills me. You know, the clips of a guilty dog in trouble, being confronted. It might be a stolen cookie on the table, a trash can raid or a pile of poop in the hallway, the look of guilt on the face says it all. I can’t hardly catch my breath from the bursts of laughter. Cuteness on wheels.
My Shorty is a well behaved, highly intelligent dog. Many years ago, I adopted him from a rescue operation and so glad I did. They found him caged in a kill shelter with just days to live. Honestly, he is one of the most obedient dogs I’ve ever had. BUT, when he needs to be confronted about a bad decision on his part, he might first give you a look that says, “What? All things are as they should be.” However, it only takes a frown from my mug, or a second vocal nudge like, “Shooortyyyyy?” (Inflection going up at the end.) That’s all it takes. Then he goes into a different mode altogether. Sometimes, it’s a look of denial. He will turn his head, shifting his chocolate brown peepers away from me as if to say, “Nothing to see here.” Or, “If I don’t look at him, the issue will disappear.” The eyes are indeed the window to the soul.
He truly speaks with his face, especially when he doesn’t want to hear the words, “Shorty, I’ve got to go, but you have to stay.”
Because we’re so close, like Velcro, just like the “Me And My Arrow” story about a boy and his dog, Shorty knows he can find comfort with me. There are times he even snuggles his face in the crook of my arm, or the first half of his body behind my back.
At other times, after he shakes off the initial confrontation, he distracts himself with his toy box consisting of bones. It’s his own collection. He drags each one out, across the rug to an area in the living room floor. I call it his boneyard. (He thinks he is such a fierce creature.)
At other times he chooses to forego my welcoming arms in efforts to comfort himself.
Way too many times I find I am being trained by my dog. Have you ever felt that way? I can really learn about myself from watching Shorty’s behavior.
It’s funny what guilt can do, isn’t it? Guilt can freeze you to the point of arrested development, even if you’re 75 years old. Guilt can cause a multitude of reactionary behaviors. Mostly it stems from a need to cover up the pit you find yourself in. It’s very much like a device planted in you from birth, signaling a twinge deep inside the soul flagging a misfire, a misstep away from the correct path, the better path laid out for you. It’s what law was designed to do, to educate the perfect target intended for a peace that is the opposite of imperfection.
Maybe for you the chosen tool is temporary comfort. Often those tools can be detrimental to your overall health, soul, spirit and body. Guilt can cause you to shutdown altogether. For some, it’s sleeping for 12 hours for numbing sake. For others it’s dragging something familiar from one’s personal treasure toy box, only to find it really is a boneyard when perspective comes. Guilt often produces a big fat plate of denial. Like Shorty, you might just look in another direction believing the distraction you focus on will be your way of escape. Maybe it’s in an effort to say to the guilty self, “There’s nothing to see here. Nothing is really wrong.” We do like smokescreens and foggy tints of grey, don’t we? Somehow it makes it much easier to digest falling short of what it is to be at peace. Yet, when perspective comes tomorrow, the memory of wrongful acts hits again like a pie to the face. The morning after syndrome is so common. Unfortunately, the process begins again like a dog chasing his tail in a loop of behaviorism. Am I right? Yep, me too. We all have that gene in our DNA. Don’t try making an attempt to cut the gene out of your strand. You can’t.
No matter how hard we try, guilt must be dealt with. If not, you will continue to be chewed on like an old soup bone from a box. Too many times you have noticed you can’t drink it away, eat it away, sex it away, nor work it away. Driving to a scenic lookout point is nice, and for the moment may ease what drags behind you, but you still have to go back home again. There are stains, inward tattoos, you just can’t remove on your own, no matter what chemical is your favorite.
We were created that way, you know. It’s true. Sure, our society, our misguided culture, has degraded to a level where we trust in relativism. What’s wrong for me might be right for you, etc. I get it. Even ISIS believes they are doing righteous acts. Yet, relativism will not defy gravity at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Gravity is gravity because gravity is absolute truth. The top half of Shorty’s ears flop forward, no matter how hard he might try to point them upward. That basic doctrine of relativism is faulty at best. Do not jump off the edge of the Grand Canyon. It’s like a house built on wet cement. Would you do that? The Savior available to the world put it like this, “It’s like a house built on shifting sand.” (Jesus paraphrased from Matthew 7: 24-27)
We act-out in order to cover over where our, often unspoken, fault lies. Read the story of Adam and Eve. When they understood they had gone against a perfect rule set for them by God Himself, they did all they could to cover it over, to hide. That’s what guilt does. Times haven’t changed. It’s very much like, “If I don’t look at him, the issue will disappear.” None of us are innocent of the perfect standard. Try it, just for one day.
Shorty is a dog, a sweet dog with a terrific disposition, but a dog just the same. However, in watching his little life, and his acting out, I often see myself. In fact, Shorty may have been placed with me to be a teaching tool. My unearned grace and forgiveness toward my pal comes from my unconditional love for him. Unknowingly, Shorty may be showing me how God views me as His child. It’s great training from a dog.
Shorty has it right. Being humble enough to examine the stain on the heart is the first step toward the act of giving up and praying to the original Stain Remover.
Understanding the authentic design of the spirit and soul will expose the truth of the need for the removal of sin. It’s an expensive spiritual surgery. You can’t perform this surgery on yourself. The operation has been paid for by your appointed surgeon. I find Jesus has multiple initials after His name and covered the expense way ahead of time. †
When revived, you not only will find you are an adopted son or daughter, being held tightly to his chest, but also the recovery will require a gift from Him which is fuel for the race.
“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Jesus (Speaking about Himself.) – Matthew 20:28 (NIV)