My dog Katie is afraid of her dog food bowl.
That’s just all kinds of not normal.
She hasn’t always been this way, though. She and her food bowl used to be best buds.
A few months ago, the metal clip on her collar somehow hooked onto the rim of her food bowl, causing it to rise up off the floor as she lifted her head from the bowl. It was absolutely stuck to her collar and no amount of shaking on her part would set it loose. Panicked, she tried to get away from the bowl only to have it follow her. Terrifying.
Katie covered a lot of square footage, yelping loudly all the way, bowl bouncing as she ran, before I was able to set her free from her tormentor.
And ever since that day, things have not been the same between Katie and her bowl. She is showing it zero love, even though it contains one of her favorite things (not her MOST FAVORITE thing…that’s toilet paper.).
She’s super apprehensive, sure that the bowl will jump up at any given moment. (In case you’re curious, we’ve tried LOTS of different bowls…all bowls are currently evil.)
Fool me once, food bowl…shame on you…
These days, Katie slowly approaches her bowl, takes a single kernel of food, and runs away to eat it. Then she’ll come back, bark at the bowl (a stern I-Have-Not-Forgotten bark), and try again.
Fool me twice…shame on me…
My dog has trust issues.
I don’t blame her. Feeling attacked by something you trust is scary.
And even though the Food Bowl Attack of 2017 happened months ago, it feels like yesterday to her. Fear has a good memory.
So do I.
Sometimes I let the memory of the pain of broken trust or the fear of hurt feelings keep me away from what I really need: people.
I act just like Katie. No, I’m not afraid my dinnerware will attack me, but I do shy away from situations where I might be vulnerable. Given the choice, I’ll pass on pain.
Fool me once, mankind…shame on you…
But, just like Katie can’t completely avoid her food bowl…dog’s gotta eat…I can’t avoid relationships…woman’s gotta love.
See, as one of God’s children, I was created for connection. My soul shrivels without it.
But the world we live in is messy and complicated and, because of that, relationships get messy and complicated.
Intentions are misunderstood. Motives are questioned. Words are said. Feelings get hurt. Relationships and all that comes with them can be downright scary. Sometimes we feel attacked when we least expect it and all we want to do is shake free from the relationships and people that caused it. We start to fear the very thing that keeps us alive…connection.
We risk a lot when we’re vulnerable. But we also learn more about ourselves and about who our God is when we let people in. In the process, yes, we might get attacked. Our feelings might get hurt and we might hurt someone we dearly love.
But isn’t it worth the risk?
Don’t we gain so much more than we risk to lose?
And when we give up on being vulnerable, what are we saying about God? When we wash our hands of even the possibility of getting hurt, who are we believing God is?
Can he not handle it? Will he not help us? Does he not have our best interest in mind when it comes to the people and circumstances he brings into our lives?
I believe he can, he will, and he does.
It is with his help that we are able to navigate our messy and complicated lives. And, y’all, he IS our ever-present help in times of trouble. Scary things happen. Relationships can be hard. But God isn’t going anywhere. He’s with us forever.
Katie is scared of her food bowl, but she eats anyway. She knows she needs to eat. Just like Katie needs her food, we need each other. We keep each other alive…alive to the wonder that is this life with God. We were designed by the God who loves us to love one another. Our lives are meant to be reflections of his love…reminders of his grace.
Relationships are risky business.
Let’s risk it.
This article originally appeared at ShadesofMercyandGrace.com.