As a teenager I had the best dog, a golden retriever named Tyler. He was sweet, present, playful, and always up for a car ride. Sadly, Tyler died a few years ago, so we had him cremated and buried him in my parents' backyard.
A few months after Tyler passed away, my older brother had this brilliant idea. He was going to buy our middle daughter, Hope Ann, a puppy for her birthday. And not just any puppy, a golden retriever! I was excited but also a little anxious because a puppy with three kids isn't exactly a suitable ingredient for a clean, sane house. But when we pulled up to the breeder's, the girls got so excited about all the puppies. They were so cute. I mean who can resist a chubby little puppy, especially a golden retriever? So...
Princeton the puppy came home with us that day. But he acted nothing like a prince. More like a punk. He dug up our entire backyard. Dragged in the mud onto the carpet. Knocked down everything as he trampled through the house. Could never seem to grasp the concept of going potty outside. In one of his later feats, he found the girls' Easter candy in the garage and ate it all. A seven-hundred-dollar vet bill later... you get the picture. I felt like the only words I ever said to Princeton were, "Stop it!"
He saved his ultimate mishap, however, for the few weeks when we were living with my parents while waiting to move into our new house. My mom and dad were not fond of Princeton, plus they didn't have a fenced-in backyard. So we tied a long rope around a tree and forced the dog to stay outside as much as possible. He had plenty of room to wander on the rope there. In fact, he seemed to like it – digging just enough to agitate my dad, but mostly behaving himself.
But one afternoon, I heard my dad yelling to me, "Nicole! You better get out here!"
First of all, I know my dad means business if he uses my first name, even to this day. But immediately upon hearing it and rushing outside, I saw he had good reason. All over Princeton's face was some type of gray dust. To my horror I realized, eyeing the place where we'd buried Tyler's ashes, Princeton had dug up my dead dog. Gasp!
Needless to say, after that incident, Princeton had to go. We found him a good home, and I'm sure he's the best dog ever... now. But there are some things that are never meant to be dug up.
And not just ashes.
One of the biggest problems I've noticed with comparison is that I can feel like I'm constantly laying it down, putting it behind me, only to catch myself a few minutes later digging it back up, returning to old mind-sets. The good news, of course, is that God isn't doing the same. I love the picture of Him in this verse:
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (Ps. 103:12 NLT)
Maybe that's why I'm in a season right now where He keeps giving me the same two-word self-counseling to say that I used to say to Princeton daily. Stop. It.
Why? Because this why her struggle is a pattern for me. And I don't want to be in a position of freedom one second and failure the next. So I'm letting these two words boss me around when my soul gets messy.
When I start to doubt my gifts, I say:
When those little fears of "why not me?" start digging in, I say:
When I feel jealous as I watch "her" scoot off to this and that opportunity, I say:
Those two words are not super profound, right? But they are super powerful. When I stop and refuse to dig up those insecurities in me, they allow me to see this situation for what it really is.