What is it about dogs and doorbells? I have lived with big dogs and small dogs and every one of them went ballistic each time the doorbell rang. Heck, one of our cats literally “growls” when he hears the door chimes or a knock and then runs past the window to throw a menacing look at the person waiting on the other side. (“Who are you? …And how DARE you?”)
You would think that dogs (and cats) through history have had so many repeated bad experiences with unexpected visitors that they are just genetically programmed to assume the worst… The mailman is surely delivering a bomb this time, the neighbor suddenly wants to steal your kids, that girl scout is out to grab the family jewels and those Jehovah’s witnesses are going to drag you off and chain you to their watch tower.
Of course none of that has most likely ever happened, and yet dogs can’t seem to allow themselves to imagine anything but danger and disaster when they hear that unexpected sound.
I have to admit that I used to react to the unknown in much the same way as my pets. When unexpected things popped up, my response was often to growl and grumble, bark and fuss. I just always assumed the worst was going to follow. Unannounced guests? Unscheduled trip? Unplanned meeting? Unpredictable weather? ..GRRR! I resented any imposition on my perfect little plans…or lack thereof.
Control freaks don’t respond very well to the sound of life’s surprise “ding-dongs.” The assumption is, if it’s not carefully thought out and planned, if it’s not my idea, if it’s inconvenient or outside of my comfort zone…it’s gonna suck. (sorry, there was no better word.) I have seen first hand how rigid agendas and the compulsion to control everything can get so much worse as we age. I have witnessed heart breaking examples of how people have been unwilling to make even minor adjustments to accommodate other’s needs, visits or changes in plans. As a direct result of being hurt in this way, and most likely having hurt others myself, I have made it a high priority to be more flexible…not an easy task.
I know I’m not the only one trying to make improvements in this area. My friend Kristen, a recovering control freak like me, says she imagines herself swaying to life’s changing winds like a palm tree…gracefully bending this way and that…going with the ebb and flow of life.
The opposite visual of me as a tall, thin palm.. is me with my feet stuck in blocks of concrete..
But I don’t want to be that clunky, inflexible girl any more! I don’t want to be guilty of putting my need to control and plan and micro-manage ahead of the glorious freedom that comes with being open to life’s unexpected surprises.
Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to “go home, think about it, pack a duffel bag and follow me”..he literally told them to drop everything and come along! I need to use this example to remind myself to stop conflating safety, happiness and well being with predictability. Being open to possibilities.. as they pop up.. is in reality an exercise in faith.
I don’t want to be a guard dog behind my locked door ready to pounce on any perceived threat to my ordered life.
I want to live with my front door wide open to whatever the Lord brings my way…
no doorbell needed.