Backwards to Forwards: Being What We Already Are

A few days ago I was all excited to do a follow up post on Walking Panda, one that triumphantly stated how I found some training techniques to teach him to walk better and they were working brilliantly. Yesterday afternoon God knocked down that sand castle for me (I need to remember to thank Him for it later). As I yanked Panda down the sidewalk, pulling him away from other dogs and distractions, I was a wreck of angry tears. So much of me was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t make anything in my life right now go the way I wanted it to, but then I didn’t even know what was the right way to go.

One of the techniques the dog training website told me was that while walking the dog if they get more excited and stop walking beside or behind you, you should stop to make them sit and command their attention again. Sometimes this requires going backwards a little bit, walking behind to where the dog will have to retreat to follow you.

Since I am clearly the dog in this metaphor, I decided to stop and sit with God this morning to see where He would take me, even if it meant going backwards a bit.

Going backwards isn’t too hard for me actually. Frequently my beliefs even lean on the side of what they call “old fashioned” or “backwards.” Saving sex for marriage, going to church weekly, not cursing or swearing — I am certainly not a modern miss. I never really like trendy things anyways.

My heart likes to wonder though, if maybe going backwards in this sense could be a good thing. Going backwards, before my eyes were tainted by the lies of this world, before things got all messed up, back to a time when things were the way God intended them. This only leaves me one destination: Eden.

Backwards to Eden is where I want to go, before the apple crunched with the crisp juice of ruined innocence, before that juice ran down Eve’s beautiful cheek, dripping off with the sting of something spoiled. I want to go back to the time when God looked around and said ” This is good, this is tov, this is beautiful, created, the way I want it to be.”

The screech of my tea kettle just halted that day dream, waking me back to this reality. A reality where my lungs feel the pressure of air too thick with heartache, where my head is immersed in the doubts of a fearful world. I am drowning out here. My confidence continues to sink because I question every move I make, uncertain of what to do and what is right or wrong. Right or wrong — I circle back to you to wonder if you really even exist, or are you part of the lies the world told me? Were you implanted in my life to coarse through my veins and pump out a poison I must live on forever, an IV filled with Hollywood and material wants and lusting desires? Or is grace the anecdote to cure such sickness? The grace of a God who can redeem any wrong to right or any right that is really wrong.

even a sunset helps me to remember that sometimes we have to go down or back before we can go up or forward

Why I focus on the details and drown in my imagined fears is not an answer I think I need. Sometimes going back to sort through the rubble will leave you with nothing but more questions and wasted time. The time comes where I must hand over the tools to the real builder, the one that knows what He is doing, and trust that He can do it right, He will do it right, because He has done it before.

I realized that so much of what Jesus said was in present tense — “You are the light of the world,” “you are God’s holy people,” for “with God all things are possible.” The “will be” possibility of something wasn’t even acknowledged because it was already true at that very time. Without moving in any direction, without doing any more right or wrong, all people needed to do was believe for those things to take effect. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are already purified from any poison, we are already good, and we are already beautifully created the way God intended us to be. All that’s left to do is accept that truth, and let it take us backward to change every lie the world has told us — at that point we will have gone back so far as to come forward to a new way of life.

Thanks for reading and letting me share what can be a hard journey.

How do you have to go backwards sometimes in order to go forward?

Any tips on walking a dog? :)


Walking Panda

One of my friends at school likes to insist that she has a knack for naming people’s spirit animals. Apparently mine is a mouse, which I approved of mostly because it was better than some of our other friends who got assigned a manatee or an emu. Although the whole thing is a lot more funny than serious, I have come to feel that a lot of the time animals are great metaphors for the actions of humans and even sometimes our relationship to God.

Take my family’s dog Panda. We first got Panda from a shelter where he was very skinny, only about 25 pounds (10 less than what was healthy), and deemed mildly “aggressive” and “territorial” by the shelter. Nonetheless I fell for his fluffy black and white face the moment I saw him.
Now two years later, he is a whopping 42 pounds (slightly overweight than what is healthy), very friendly, and still just as cute as ever. Basically it is hard not to love Panda. He has a record of chewing up strange objects, including bars of soap, an electric razor, a Bible (pray for the poor thing), and even a set of milk chocolate bars that left him mysteriously unharmed. Yet still it is hard not to love Panda.

In fact since I am home for the summer I constantly laugh at how my parents have spoiled Panda since I left. They feed him ridiculous amounts of treats, let him sit on the couch, and allow him to sleep not just on their bed but right next to their faces sometimes. So I constantly call him a spoiled pooch. Even still, it is hard not to love Panda.

Walking Panda is a whole different conundrum. Panda tends to zig zag back and forth across the sidewalk, right in front of your feet and against the ideal path. He pulls on the leash with futile strength because you aren’t going to go any faster. When another dog even comes into sight he cries with earnest as if his life depends on getting to this other dog, but then if you give in and let him stop to sniff he shies away. Panda also stops constantly to mark his territory in certain spots even though it is gross and frankly embarrassing to the person holding the leash. By the end of the walk Panda is finally too tired to do all those things so he will at last walk close to you and at a steady pace.

Yet amazingly, it’s still hard to not love that spoiled pooch.

I think God probably looks at me like this sometimes. I tend to pull away, mark my territory, bark at things I’m afraid of, whine when I see other dogs I think I want to get close to, rush off in the wrong direction, and it is only when I am tired that I walk closer to God’s side. Yet in the end God still says it is hard not to love me, and he will continue to spoil me. So I guess I’m just one lucky dog.

Do you have an animal that you connect with?

Or how have you seen God in a seemingly ordinary part of your life?