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What Scaring Turkeys and Catastrophic Thinking Have in Common

What Scaring Turkeys and Catastrophic Thinking Have in Common

I was out of the house for a while one day not too long ago, and when I came back, the kids were very excited to tell me how our 10-pound Shih Tzus, Samson and Delilah, scared off wild turkeys in our yard. Apparently, they howled and howled, diligently assuming their roles as our protectors, and when the turkeys returned a second time, the kids took Samson and Delilah out again so they could give those birds another talking-to.

I thought a lot about how my pups are really not any different in size than these feathered impostors in our yard. And how in that moment of angst, Samson and Delilah took their job seriously, no matter the cost. Yes, they bark at butterflies. They also bark at the black bear that visits our neighborhood each spring and fall. It really doesn’t matter the perceived foe—big or small—they’re at the ready to scare intruders off, tiny Shih Tzu teeth and all.

And isn’t that really what hypervigilance is? Don’t we all get that way sometimes? With some of the anxiety struggles in one of my children this past year, I have remained in a constant state of “watch,” not being able (or willing) to let down my guard. I think at the root of it is a trust issue. I wrongly believe that the minute I take a deep breath and sigh, all of the balls I think I am holding up in the air will crash down on our heads and shatter, never to be repaired. But, isn’t that really arrogant in a way? Do I really even hold them up? When I look in a mirror reflecting back, I see them up there, but it’s not my hand keeping them spinning in the air. It’s an invisible, mighty one attached to my Father in heaven.

And, the truth is: I have had to scare turkeys this year. There have been wild flocks coming into my life pecking at what doesn’t belong to them. There have been bullies (in adult form), anxiety, depression, toxic people, gossip, malice, slander, you name it! Things have been taken, or attacked, that were mine. And then beyond our own home were dear ones struggling through job loss, affliction, mental illness, death, disease, injury, personal loss of other kinds.

Sound familiar? It’s the world outside of the Garden of Eden—

—And we all live in it.

So, it’s easy to see why we get catastrophic in our thinking after a while. After a year (or even a few weeks) of one thing after another slamming up against us, we don’t live just “at the ready.” We live at Disaster Preparedness Level 10.

And that’s where I was sitting when I went in to see my son’s therapist to check in, only to have her tell me I was readying for a war that isn’t really even on the horizon. And while I wasn’t suited up sitting in a tank, I was definitely eyeing the property line for more turkeys. She more or less told me I could relax my shoulders now. It’s not all up to me. The turkeys aren’t there right now. At ease, Bonnie. At ease.

Say what now? It’s not all up to me?

That was such a huge relief.

I cried for days after that.

Because she was right.

If the Time of Great Sadness comes back into our house again, God will be with me just as much as He was then. Like Samson and Delilah, I will naturally kick into protective mode, but I don’t have to live there all of the time. I can enjoy the in-between moments and live. My Shih Tzus bound around fighting over a rubber alligator and see how many different ways they can jump on my couch when I’m not looking—and practice quick jump-aways for when I am.

The turkeys aren’t actively hanging out in our yard right now. They’re probably a few streets over taking their good ole time crossing a road in rush hour traffic—just because they can. Samson and Delilah aren’t staring out the window in expectation of them. They only scare them off when the need arises.

When anxiety strikes and we can’t let go, we need to know we don’t have to walk around scaring off turkeys. They will find us; they always do, eventually, and if we’re prayerful and consulting with our Father in heaven, we’ll know how to scare them into retreat when they do. But not everything is a wild turkey.

And there’s so much living to do in-between the times the turkeys visit. Catastrophic thinking steals our joy, drains us of the energy we need when it is time to protect, and cheats us of the peace of looking up into the very capable eyes and arms of the loving Peace Giver.

Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah the Prophet speaking

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

John 14:27, Jesus speaking

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).

 

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Eating Pipe Cleaners

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It’s true. My dog eats pipe cleaners. There’s no need to call the dog authorities. I hide the craft supplies my younger children enjoy, but Samson the Ornery Shih Tzu manages to find them anyway. I usually have an intense eye on him because of his puppy superhero abilities to be everywhere at one time, but the truth is, one or two small wound-up ones (wound-up circles that used to be antennas? or eyes? on some odd project in my house) came out with the other contents of his stomach. They are so balled up, they aren’t scraping anything on the way down or back up again, but I have to wonder: Why, Samson, why?

It completely perplexes me why he would keep trying this. When I have a rough experience with a local food chain burger, I don’t tend to repeat it for a while.

But then I think about the human tendency to feed ourselves things all of the time that are not good for us, and we know it as we consume it. And I’m not just talking about food.

I’m a crime show freak. I have not one scientific thought in my head pretty much ever, but forensic shows fascinate me. In and of themselves, they are not bad. But I know sometimes I consume too much of the macabre, the darkness of the crime, the visuals that television provides. And it seems to me, at times, that I’m eating pipe cleaners.

Then there are those people in our lives sometimes that spew negativity. Are we wrong to be their friends? No, they need friends too, so that hopefully they once in a while respond to encouragement and look up to the Light of God instead of sitting in their pit of dark. But if we give them permission to define us, our moods, our time, our thought lives—there we go eating pipe cleaners again.

How about the comparison game? I feast on that from time to time. In fact, I make a regular meal of it. Super-Career-Mom-Does-It-All-So-Why-Can’t-I? with a side of Rehearse-My-Failures salad with Her-Family-Lives-Nearby-and Watches-Her-Kids-All-of-the-Time-for-Her dressing. Swallowing down some major pipe cleaners there.

I’m not sure what it is I think is going to happen when I do that, but I know I don’t have too many more brain cells functioning than Samson does when I continue to consume that which isn’t a diet that nourishes. And after a while, if Samson keeps eating rolled-up pipe cleaners, they could straighten and scrape. So can things we take in or feed on. We know they really aren’t to feed our minds, hearts, souls, or bodies, but we do it anyway. And we scrape ourselves along the way.

What pipe cleaners can we stop chewing on today?

Colossians 3:1-2, Apostle Paul speaking

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

 

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Elliptical Spins

Elliptical SpinsI have two Shih Tzus, about 10 months old, from the same litter. Sweetest and dumbest things ever at the same time. Actually, the girl is pretty cunning. The boy is happy-go-lucky but not high on intellect or training abilities. But we adore their different personalities, because, just like the kids in our house, they each bring something different to the table. We named them Samson and Delilah. She is very lap-seeking and intense. He is very carefree and low-maintenance, overall.

One fine day I was sitting on the couch with Delilah on my lap enjoying a good Shih Tzu massage, and SAM-ssss* (our nickname for him with emphasis on the first syllable) was perseverating on the plastic wheel of my elliptical (the wheel used to move it from room to room). He was having the most fascinating time spinning that thing. Really, who was I to interrupt this mindless, drone-like activity? And, yet, it fascinated me because Samson loves to run around, chomp on a chew stick, and show us his belly, hoping it’s a nice hint to rub it. Spinning a plastic wheel was a new trick. I almost associated that kind of behavior more with Type-A Delilah. 

And I thought about how profound that is because we humans resent when we spin without getting anywhere. The few times you even find me on an elliptical (usually after a week of unhealthy eating when I am attempting to compensate with one workout on the machine), I want to get somewhere. I obsessively check the distance “travelled,” time spent, calories burnt. We don’t feel like we can take a minute to stop at a long traffic light without checking our texts. Our society is spinning endless wheels like Samson, only we are frustrated when multitasking all at once doesn’t propel us somewhere. 

So I found myself admiring my tiny-brained dog for being content in the moment, with only one thing going, and not pursuing endless distractions at once. And also that spinning that thing took him nowhere but relaxing and burning energy. Unlike Delilah, who usually exploits those moments when Samson is distracted to grab his chew stick or pull one of his favorite toys into her crate, Samson could focus. On one thing. And not have to get or be anywhere but in that moment. It made me wish for a few moments I could lay on the floor right next to him and bat at that wheel.

An excellent book for how to stop being so busy is:

DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

*We also have been known to call him Samsonite or Samsonian. 

Bonnie Lyn Smith's two 3/4 Shih Tzu, 1/4 Brussels Griffon dogs

Samson & Delilah

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Shih Tzu Shenanigans

 

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