If you’re new around here, you might have missed that we recently got a spunky golden retriever puppy named Dallas. He’s adorable, mischievous, and quite amusing. Since he’s still a little guy whose bladder control we still do not fully trust (although he’s doing pretty good – fingers crossed… 🙂 ); we have two gates set up to block his entrance to our bedroom and the dining room.
Even with this restriction — he has ample space to run around inside, a comfy pad to lie on with lots of toys, a crate all his own, water, food, a big backyard, and two humans who really like him a lot — yet guess what he decides to do?
He whines at the gate.
We can both be sitting on the floor, eager to engage him with toys and spend time with him after work, and he decides he would rather be on the other side of the gate. The other side holds nothing of particular value to him (except maybe the closet of shoes he would love to sink his teeth into); everything he could possibly need and want is right there, completely accessible to him, yet he whines.
Whines for the imagined things he’s missing on the other side of the gate.
Whines about the supposed restrictions imposed upon him.
Whines because surely, surely something better lies just beyond these metal barriers.
One night, exasperated, I said, “Dallas! You have everything right here in front of you — yet you cry for what you think you want, or need, or deserve to have!”
And Jesus whispered — Oh my daughter, how often do you do the same thing?
I was speechless as my thoughts swirled.
How often I cry, complain, or lament what I haven’t been given but I feel I somehow deserve?
How many times I compare my life, my story, with others’ and wonder why mine seems so ordinary compared to theirs?
How much emotional energy I waste wishing my social media/blog postings were as popular as his or hers?
How much passion I can put into envying my friends’ supposed “perfect” lives instead of living mine?
How many times I forget the gifts I’ve been given by my good Father in heaven who looks at me and says, Jessica! Look around you — look at all you have, not just material possessions, but wonderful family, friends, your health, sunshine, my grace…the list goes on and on — why do you stand at the gate? Why do you not savor what you’ve been given? Why not live the life that stretches out before you, trusting my timing, my sovereignty, my plan?
I’m reminded of what Eugene Cho said at the IF Gathering this past February when he was talking about the infamous cliche, “The grass is always greener.” He agreed and said, yes, maybe it is, but his brilliant solution was one I won’t easily forget:
Water your own grass.
That statement continues to resonate as does the gentle urging of my heavenly Father last week when he used our new puppy to remind me of a valuable lesson.
The other side of the gate can never measure up to what you have all around you.