Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Cranky Dog and a Tummy Ache

I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with Bode today. He snapped at Shiloh when he came over to sniff the teddy bear Bode was cuddling with. He growled at me when I rubbed his tummy--twice. And he's piddled on our carpet twice today, we think out of fear...but he'd made some major strides on this so it's unusual. I can't figure out what's bothering him. He's eating and drinking normally, and sometimes he seems like his usual playful self. He does have a scrape on his back left leg that he won't let me look at. But he's not limping, favoring that leg, or licking it so I don't think it's bothering him that much. I really can't figure out what's going on today.

His reactions got me thinking about how I react when I'm not feeling well. Like today. My tummy has been upset today, and the dogs woke me up early, so I'm not in the best of moods. I find myself snapping at Curtis over incredibly inane things (like the printer being out of ink) and being really annoyed at not getting my way. I've reverted to the disposition of a cranky two year old. Brilliant.

I'm sympathetic that Bode seems to not be feeling well, but I don't appreciate his growling at me and snapping at me. I'm trying to help him and he won't let me. But I'm doing the same thing. I don't feel good so I'm snarling and snapping, feeling annoyed and irritable. Bode's a dog so I don't suppose he'll ever learn to behave otherwise, and I'm not sure it would be fair for me to expect him to. However, I'm a human and I have to learn to rise above myself sometimes.

I read an interesting article on 'emotional sobriety' a couple days ago. The concept being that emotions are something that can be managed, much like an addiction, so that it no longer controls you. It's not so much about turning off emotions and not let anything ruffle your feathers, as much as learning how to cope with having your feathers ruffled. And my goodness, do I need help with my ruffly feathers.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.--Proverbs 25:28

The imagery there is very powerful. Imagine how it used to be--in the old country--it doesn't have to be as far back as Solomon's time, think back to images of medieval Europe. We've all seen a Robin Hood movie or two. Imagine how the city was surrounded with a tall, impenetrable wall, always guarded, always well-defended, protecting the inhabitants inside. And the people who lived outside the city, and thus the city wall, would always rush inside in times of trouble. The city walls provided safety and security in otherwise perilous situations.

And, so it would seem, self-control serves the same purpose. It guards my emotions from being overtaken by outsiders. I have a choice to either defend my city--my heart, my mind, my relationships--by keeping my wall of self-control well armed, or I can allow my wall to be broken through.

I don't think self-control is a choice, as much as a lifestyle. Like patience and joy, it's not something I can ask God for and simply be uploaded with. It's not an app for my heart. Self-control has to be learned, and can only be learned in a moments when I would normally go haywire. Like today. I have a choice right now to turn around today by choosing self-control, or I can allow my city to be ransacked by unchecked emotions.

I think it is harder to make positive choices when I'm not taking care of myself by eating right and getting enough rest and things like that. The most important thing is whether or not I'm nourishing my soul with daily helpings for the Word and concentrated time in prayer.

I have to tell you...I took a break in the midst of writing this post. Curtis needed the computer. So I decided to take some time to read my Bible. I'm working on  Lent reading plan of the gospels, and so I had to finish up Matthew today. I feel centered now having spent some time studying the Bible and reading about Jesus. It's amazing how I always feel so nurtured and nourished after getting with God.

And in the middle of my Bible study, my stomach stopped hurting and I actually got hungry. I haven't been truly hungry in several days, I've just been eating because I have to. Then, when I finished Matthew, I decided to try to check Bode one more time to see if I can figure out what's wrong. He growled at me at first when I tried to look at his leg but I gave him some space to calm down so he came back and laid down. I rubbed his tummy (what dog can resist a tummy rub?) and told him he was good, and then I carefully picked up his back left leg. He didn't even twitch or 'grrrr'. Good news is his leg is almost healed so I honestly think he was just tired. He slept while I was reading and he seems to be feeling better.

Funny how that works, huh?

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