Monday’s Musings — A Shelter Pup, Me & the Safe Place

Maya sitting in a chair watching baseball on Saturday
Maya sitting in a chair watching baseball on Saturday

My youngest son had a baseball scrimmage on Saturday evening.
I decided to take along our dog, Maya.

She’s a shelter pup.
She’s a shelter pup we adopted just over two years ago.
She’s a shelter pup who, we believe, came from an abusive situation.

Maya doesn’t like riding in the car.
Maya doesn’t like men.
Maya doesn’t like men wearing hats.
Maya doesn’t like little girls.
Maya doesn’t like people she doesn’t know.
Maya doesn’t like other dogs.
Maya doesn’t like paper towel rolls, cords of any kind or objects which look like bats.

Taking Maya to baseball activities can – obviously – be a challenge.
So why do I take her?
I want to help her to overcome some of her fears in a safe way.

She is a wonderfully perfect dog for us at home; it’s just when she comes into contact with these things that her nervousness, fearful growling and hesitancies occur.

Maya is part German Shepherd and part Chihuahua (…uh-huh…go ahead…you can ponder that one for a bit…). At home, she’s all Shepherd…she smells everything, she’s a fantastic watchdog and alerts us to anything going on in the house, driveway or yard that isn’t in her view of 100% normal, and she’s loving and protective. However, should something outside her view of normal persist, should she encounter one of her fears, or if we take her out of her environment, then the yippy, growling, shaking and fearful Chihuahua comes out in her.

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I can relate to Maya. I like my home environment. My things are where I want them, my thoughts are where I need them, and my routine is mostly mine. I’m like a Momma Shepherd at home, but I’ll let doubts and hesitancy flare up when I’m away from my comfort zones.

I’ve had to deal with new people and new situations a lot over the last few years…many of which I would never have imagined or have chosen. I’m not a hermit by any means, but I can get a little nervous when I’m called to step out of my comfort zone, even if it is in a safe place.

Sometimes I wonder…
What will others think?
What will they think of me?
Am I up to the task?
Will I be good enough?
I cherish when there are others near me who know me and who can help me walk through hesitancies or challenges.

Through my own challenges, I’ve found comfort and confidence in a few close friends, but mostly, I’ve found my strength in the Lord.

I’ve had to repeatedly tell myself that if He has allowed me to walk through this season of my life, then He will be with me. I’ve found comfort in His Word and in knowing He will be my shield, my strength, my comforter and my defender. He has, and — despite the challenges of life — my joy has overflowed as a result of His presence.

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That’s what I have to do with Maya. When she’s shaking and staring at me with that “I’m so afraid” look, I need to be a good master by helping her to confidently walk through the hesitancies and by helping her to safely (for her and for others) deal with her fears.

She knows she’s safe when I’m near and when she can sit at my feet,
and I know I’m safe when He is here and when I can sit at His feet.

 

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Finding Hope in New Adventures

Box

I tried something new the other day.

I know. It sounds like a meaningless subject to write about, but for me, it isn’t. Although I’ve gotten more adventurous over the years, trying something new and outside of my comfy box is still a challenge for me.

I didn’t have the most supportive family life when it came to trying new things. My parents each had their own box of comfortable, and, growing up, I was expected to fit into one of those boxes of comfortable which they maintained. If I wanted to try something outside of their boxes, I was on my own. When I’d succeed, I’d hear little of it; when I failed, I’d hear short quips about not doing well or about how failing would not have happened had I just not tried. The quips weren’t supportive. The quips created a fear of failure in me.

So, I grew up with boxes. I grew up with boxes, because I dared not disappoint the people who provided me some semblance of encouragement when I stayed in their comfort zone. I grew up with boxes, because I dared not disappoint the people who provided me a brief reprimand when I failed at something outside of their comfort zone. I have no memory of my parents ever encouraging me toward a task or activity that was outside of their comfort zone.

Failure at an activity or task equaled failure at life — so I perceived. I didn’t want to be a failure, so I stuck with what I was told I was good at doing, I stuck with what was safe, and, for the most part, I stuck with what was in their boxes..

I missed out on so many things I wanted to do or wanted to try because of a fear of failure.

As I’ve matured, I’ve recognized how this kind of childhood has impacted me. Trying new activities, trying new hobbies, playing games (I couldn’t chance being the loser), even trying new menu items has created a feeling of discomfort for me. However, I’ve also recognized how trying new things outside of the their-box-had-become-my-box zone has been good and genuinely rewarding for me.

You see…I have discovered that I am good at things that have nothing to do with their box. I’ve also discovered that I am good at things outside of my husband’s box (it’s a bigger box, thank goodness!) and my children’s boxes.

It’s about time. I’m plenty old enough to have my own box. I’m old enough to take responsibility for my own choices in life, and I’m also old enough to not have to fear blowing the sides out of my box to try new adventures.

So, I tried something new the other day. Wow! I did have fun! I wasn’t very good at it at first, but the people I was with found the positive in how I persevered, and they kept encouraging me. By the end of the day, I was pretty good at this new adventure. I had fun blowing out the sides of my box.

I had fun failing, struggling, trying again and succeeding.

These days, I’m working on not having such a neat and tidy box of comfortable. There are blessings in that ol’ box, but there are adventures and blessings in the opportunities which lie outside of that box, too. I’m slowly learning not to fear failure, for there is a lot to be learned by the experience and the path taken, not just on the outcome and end result.

I’m a work in progress — we all are. I am enjoying the adventure!