Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why So Afraid?

(These are some thoughts that I have been chewing on this week, related to our new life as puppy owners)

Why am I so afraid? I became aware today that I’ve been dominated by fear since Scout (our new Beagle puppy) has joined our home on January 19, 2013. I realized this week that I haven’t been able to relax or embrace the routines that are familiar to me. I try to, but I do so hurriedly and distracted, feeling anxious and restless. When Scout has trouble with something, especially during the night, I spiral in terror inside. Why am I so afraid? I pretend to do my routines, but tiptoe on eggshells praying that the bottom doesn’t fall out from under me. The night of crying and barking she had last week still haunts me. I got up from barely any sleep to a dog covered in her own crap and a future of chaos before me, seemingly unremitting chaos.

I feel broken, exposed. Ashamed at how deeply this dog is affecting me (for the worse, it seems). How in the world can something so cute provoke something so dark in me? She is precious, and I love her! Clearly something deep is stirring that requires attention. I’ve been trying to hold up this brokenness to the Lord, and I think he’s saying something.

As I’ve
noted before, our first dog (Daisy) was symbolic to me of the life I never chose but felt forced to receive. I’m discovering that Scout is symbolic too - perhaps of a new stage of life, perhaps something more. Indeed, with the weight loss I’ve experienced in the past 5 months (65+ lbs) I am literally a different person, so maybe that’s it.

As I continued to listen for what the Lord might say, I sensed that Scout represents (at least in part) what is chaotic and broken inside me, and how this makes me feel out of control. To someone who associates strongly with an orphan perspective, who knows the deep pervasive loneliness of abandonment and rejection, a lack of control is one of the most terrifying experiences you can have. If it’s all up to me, control is the only hope I have in attaining peace.

Let me unpack this some more. When Scout appears to be having trouble with something, or if training seems derailed, I feel compelled to read puppy books and comb the internet looking for help. I leave desperate messages for our vet, asking for advice. In actuality, Scout’s behavior and training issues are relatively minor. She is doing very well, considering we’ve only had her two weeks. My response to her struggles is far more extreme than the actual situation warrants, so it forces me to ask, “why?”

What am I afraid of? I know I am terrified of screwing Scout up; I’m terrified of messing up her training and never being able to fix it.

This feels familiar.

As this relates to my own soul, I realize that I am terrified of screwing up my “recovery.” I view my 10+ year long bout with depression and a profound lack of purpose as chaos requiring control. I live in almost a constant state of my “orphan” being provoked. I am desperate for a quick fix - some principle, quote, book, relationship or experience that will catapult me into the world of glory and healing and out of this day-to-day muck that is my daily life (speaking in extremes here!). My “false selves” are threatened deeply here. My fixer is terrified. My controller is anxious. The orphan rages.

Control is an illusion though; chaos is part of life in this world. It is the “stuff” of relationship, the place God meets us. Scout is far from perfect (sorry, Cesar Millan), but she loves us deeply and we love her. It reminds me of how we love broken people, sinners who rarely respond to our efforts to control or fix them. The only thing to do is love, and let God take care of the chaos.

Ultimately, the greatest chaos in history was not the time before time when “the earth was without form and void” (Gen 1:2 ESV), but when Jesus bore all the chaos of our sin and rebellion on a Roman cross. So it is here that I must find relief. I cannot find it in principles or experiences. I can only find it as I embrace chaos, feel it fully, and allow it to lead me to the cross, where chaos, disorder and horrific brokenness find healing and peace.

My next question is, how might Scout be an invitation to rest in the love of God in the midst of my brokenness?


Eric Wolf said...

thanks for sharing Scott. Blessings

Scott said...

thank you sir! Hope you are well, my friend.

Daniel Ems said...

Scott - excellent post. Thank you for digging so deeply into what seemed like a normal emotional reaction to a stressful situation. It would be "easy" to write off such a response, but there's redeeming value to exploring those feelings:

I spiral in terror inside. Why am I so afraid? I pretend to do my routines, but tiptoe on eggshells praying that the bottom doesn't fall out from under me.

I've become so used to the weight of such similarly strong emotions, that they've begun to fit like a tailor-made suit of lead. It's a battle to "cast your anxiety on Him because he cares for you".

It's the truth - God is with us in the brokenness and nights of terror. Of course we can trust him when life is easy, but he wants us to always trust him. He's more reliable than anything else we could turn to. I'm glad to be reminded of that. Thank you.

Scott said...

Daniel, great to hear from you! Glad to hear I'm not alone in these things.

I like the "heavy" imagery you use - it does feel like a burden doesn't it?

Thanks also for reminding me that I can trust him even in my brokenness (especially?); I need all the reminders I can get for that. There are plenty of reminders to trust him, as you say, "when life is easy," but not very many reminders that I can trust him with my chaos and rubble.