Christmas is long gone but the tree is still up. Do I not want the beautiful season to end or am I just too lazy. Both. There’s something about de-decorating the house that feels like stripping naked in below-freezing weather. Like really—who wants to do THAT? So who cares if the tree is one flick of the switch from going up in flames? I know where to find the fire extinguisher—in the BARN! I need a serious reassessment of priorities.
So last night the kids came running.
MOM! Grab your camera! You’ve GOT to see this!
No, the tree was not on fire. Better! The dog was flat out dead to the world—oblivious.
I came running on demand and on quiet tiptoes. Frankly, the dog was so gone I could have come running in army boots stomping and no resurrection would have been witnessed. As the kids cackled and I tried to restrain my own laughter so I could keep the lens steady, I clicked away. Full length. Close ups. Straight tail. Shiny teeth. Black nose practically touching a tree ornament.
There she was—spread thin and vulnerable, yet daintily covered up just a bit for modesty’s sake. Even dogs need fig leaves I guess. She was so relaxed that her jowls flapped back due to gravitational pull revealing canine bright whites beneath. Just lovely!
So, like any functional family would do—we laughed and made fun of her and documented her bizarre behavior for future reference and perhaps blackmail if she ever decides to become wayward and start revealing deep dark family secrets.
Enter my mind from stage right, with monolog running.
Mind: Isn’t it fascinating how some creatures just don’t give a rip what you think? They are who they are. They’re comfortable in their own skin. They’re not trying to BE something they aren’t—to PLEASE someone to exhaustion—to twist and turn themselves into something or someone they shouldn’t. They’re just FLAT OUT OBLIVIOUS to what others think—to their judgments—good OR bad.
I respond to my mind—sort of like talking to yourself but not quite so psychotic.
Mind Response (in voice of Gollum from Lord of the Rings): Yes! Yes! We wants the precious! We NEEDS the precious! Must have the precious! They STOLE it from us! Must get the precious “don’t-give-a-rip” back! It’s powerful! Must have the precious!
Narrator (in a soft, slow, ethereal tone so annoying your audience will want to just shoot you dead): There was a time—long, long ago—in a faraway land inhabited by man and woman and many animals in lush landscape filled with good foods. And all lived in peace—because they were just . . . downright . . . PERFECT (emphasize PERFECT with long, drawn out, dripping sarcasm for dramatic effect). But, alas, this was not to last . . .
Sounds like a bummer of a story. But really, there is a good and happy ending.
So, what is the secret to heaven on earth when we humans are so acutely aware that others judge and some of those judgments are less than flattering? What is the secret to peace when you try to do your best and you don’t—when your underbelly flaws are exposed and you feel like running and hiding? Or how about when you’re just being beautiful creative you, trying to help, and someone disses you. That happened to me when a relative called my dog parables “ridiculous.” Shall I say, that bites? Only if I let it.
So how does one be flat out oblivious to human opinion and learn to relax like a dog? What’s the recipe for freedom? God tells us how.
Concern yourself first and foremost with God’s opinion. Human opinion is fickle and tends to come from a self-centered place, not a you-centered place. God’s opinion of us never wavers. He loves us always. His truthnever changes and it applies to all. If we live in line with His word, we can be assured of pleasing Him regardless of what humans in our lives think, feel, say, or do. And remember Jesus? He didn’t please all people even though He WAS perfect! People were downright furious with Him and called Him vile names and plotted to extinguish His spirit from the face of the earth. But remember what God the Father said at the baptism? “This is my Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Pleasing God brings peace within even when storms rage around.
Find people with Jesus-skin on and surround yourself with them. God designed us for community. We are meant to live life together and as we do so—God’s way—life can be joyous and peace-filled, regardless of circumstances. Find people who balance love and truth in their lives and give love and truth to others. We don’t need friends or family who “love” us straight to hell by giving us a pass on thoughts and behaviors that God’s word condemns. We also don’t need friends or family who vote themselves judge and jury. God tells us to be wise—to make accurate assessments in line with His word—to speak the truth in love. Contrary to popular opinion, it IS possible—and necessary—to make accurate judgments (assessments using God’s moral standard) without condemning or withdrawing love, even if we must love from a distance for a variety of reasons.
With our eyes on God, our hearts set on living life His way, and people around us who live life His way, we can relax and rest and let the rest of the world do what they will, think what they will. We can learn to be flat out oblivious as we keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our perfect God who is both LOVE and TRUTH—inseparable—full of patience and grace, crazy in love with each of us and wanting us to rest—to really rest—in His presence.
She finally woke up with three kids and a mom still staring at her. And I could read her mind.
If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3