My parents have an eight-year-old sharp eagle (beagle/shar pei) named Hunny. She’s got a lot of personality for a dog. In her eyes, you can see such emotions as suspicion, hesitance, excitement, fear, and even one look that says, “You want me to poop in the rain? Please.” My dad got Hunny when I was a senior in high school and he didn’t train her very well. Saying she knows commands is being generous. Hunny sometimes knows commands. She sit, lie down, shake, and come, but only on her terms.
Taking her on walks is a nightmare when it’s squirrel season because she’s the one walking herself. One time in high school, she pulled me on the leash so hard that I fell down as she, a thirty-five pound dog, was chasing a squirrel.
Taking her to the dog park is a lot easier. When Hunny is at the dog park, she goes nuts because she can run free and chase as many squirrels as she wants without trying my patience. The freedom she experiences fascinates me because it allows me to see her at full charge. She is a spaz at the dog park.
I feel like the dog park is a perfect analogy for my relationship with God. I feel like I’m able to see this relationship in an extended metaphor. The dog park represents life, I am the dog, and God is the Master. When I watch Hunny running free, I’m reminded of how I act in my own life. Hunny runs, jumps and plays. She sniffs everything, and I mean everything. She’s a hound, so her nose has an auto response to anything stinky. It’s incredible the things she finds at the park. Most frequently she’ll find dead animals to eat, but one time I saw her pull a leftover bag of fast food from the bushes.
Whenever we go to the park, I spend most my energy praying and trying to hear God. I feel like I’m still learning how to hear from Him. Sometimes it’s just a thought or an idea I have. Most clearly, I hear God call me “son.” It’s a patient voice, calm and loving. I am God’s son. That’s a comforting thought. Sometimes I force hearing the Holy Spirit. This is when I want to hear from God so badly that I imagine I’m hearing him, but it’s actually me. Usually it’s something that I want voicing an opinion. Sometimes I hear the thing I want speaking so clearly to me that I wonder if I’m hearing God loudly. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Him speak to me loud and clear. I think someday I will, but for now it’s just that still, small voice advising my heart. Maybe that’s all I need.
Recently, I decided I wanted to move back to Oregon to live. My rationale was that I loved living there for college and I missed the friends I made and the lush green scenery. For the entire year I was living at home all I wanted was to return to Oregon because I had grown a lot there during my five years. I was ready to call it my new home. A week ago I made that move back to Eugene, Oregon. It didn’t go as planned. After a thirty hour drive from Kansas to Oregon, I was finally back. But something was different. I didn’t realize how much I would miss Lawrence. My first thought was to question why I had picked a place so far from home. When I moved out to Oregon for college it was because I wanted to live someplace new and different, get out on my own and have my own corner of the country to spread my wings. I come from a loving but very opinionated family. If I ask them for advice they don’t shy away. Even if I don’t ask, I still receive advice. I love them, but I needed to move away from my family. It was a fruitful five years in Eugene for college. I became an adult there. I learned how to be self-sufficient, or as much as I could be. I still depend a lot on the words and advice of my family and friends.
When I moved back to Kansas after graduating, I was disoriented. My friends were nowhere to be found and I felt like I was at square one. I wanted to get back to Oregon as soon as possible, but I wanted it to be after I had found my dream job in writing or editing. Once I had secured the perfect job in my field and saved up enough money to buy a car, I would be off on my own again. It would take six months tops.
It ended up taking a year. I feel like I drove myself crazy wanting to go back to Oregon. Sometimes I would even dream about being back there only to wake up in my childhood room in Kansas. It was the most humbling experience I’ve had. Knowing what you want in a career, but not having enough experience for employers to hire you feels like rock bottom. I just couldn’t understand why God wasn’t giving me a job. My relationship with God during this time felt like a rollercoaster. Sometimes it felt like it didn’t even exist. Sometimes God was so silent that I wondered if I was crazy just believing in Him. I received rejection letter after rejection letter from jobs. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t hire me. At my lowest point in my relationship with God, I felt like He was sabotaging my efforts at getting a job. I met with the pastor of my church and he suggested I was feeling “spiritual discontent.” I got busy. I got hired at Hallmark where I was a temp. I started a creative fiction group in Lawrence, I co-led a young adult Bible study and I reconnected with old high school friends. But among all these activities, my favorite experience being back in Lawrence was taking Hunny to the dog park.
I’m surprised it took me so long to realize the connection that I was the dog, not the master. I’m still not the Master, God is. I think I know what I need in life, but maybe I don’t. I thought I needed to go back to Oregon. Maybe what I needed was to stay put.
God blessed me while I was in Kansas. Sure, I missed my friends, but I had a great year living at home. I would do it again. Lately, God has been trying to teach me patience. He wants me to wait on Him. I’m not sure if I did that by moving back to Oregon. We’ll see. Still, God has provided a job for me out here and He provided a temporary living situation for me. I’m still waiting to hear confirmation from God about whether I should stay here or return home, but I know that God will guide me. I don’t have to be afraid because God’s plan is best, even if it doesn’t seem ideal. I’m still waiting for that perfect job, but I know that God will lift me up in His own timing. It just takes faith in the Master.