Have I introduced you to our rescue dog, Gibson?
He’s a tiny, yellow plug of unconditional affection and companionship. His primary goal in life is to stay beside his family, and he loves to snuggle beside me as I work. Usually, he sleeps under a throw I spread over the two of us, and his tiny yips and snores entertain me in my solitude while typing, or doing research. Throughout the day, we’ll have walks throughout our neighborhood, which are nice breaks for both of us. Frequently, Gibson will decide he’s too tired from our big safari out in the neighborhood, and ask to be carried back home. He’ll rest his tiny head against my shoulder, and we’ll listen to the birds on our walk back. Then, he promptly expects to burrow back under our throw, made with love by my aunt.
Gibson didn’t always have it so easy.
We’re not sure of Gibson’s background, but his head is covered in scars, and he has a broken tail. The original vet who saw him after rescue felt he may have been a bait dog, both because of the scars and his level of fear when we adopted him. Gibson has come a long way since that initial doctor visit, and he’s now a fully vested member of our family.
On a recent safari of ours, we were outside of a house, enjoying a patch of shade. Gibson had turned, and his tiny nose faced into the wind. His fur streamed behind him, and his nose twitched in the breeze, delighted by the new smells headed his way. The leash loosely connected us. Gibson stayed like that for quite a bit, just enjoying the moment.
What you don’t know yet is this:
behind us was a house. Two dogs were inside, throwing themselves against the windows with such force the glass and screens never stopped rattling. The house’s front door was open, and only the storm door kept these dogs away from us as they slobbered and barked. Meanwhile, Gibson ignored it all, and quietly kept smelling the breeze, secure in his safety. Why can’t we be this smart, Friend?
I’ve found, both in my life and in the lives of others, we tend to be afraid when we shouldn’t be.
We jump in response to our perceptions, without recognizing our realities. The perception was these dogs were about to kill us. The reality was they couldn’t come close. If you look closely, you’ll see we regularly do the same things in many aspects of our lives.
In life, we worry about things that could happen, or might happen, instead of being secure in the realities of or our existence.
We need to stop worry like this, Friend.
Perhaps you’re not satisfied with where you are in life. Maybe you’re unhappy with your job, or your spouse, or whatever your role is in life. You might even be criticizing yourself, or the decisions you’ve made along the way, since they have gently steered you to your immediate reality. Please–this minute–turn your nose towards the breeze, and turn out all of the world’s horrible noise. Stop listening to the barking, and instead–rest in the beauty in the life that is around you.
You need to stop being ashamed of your failures, and start taking pride in your successes.
We all have failures, Friend. We all have bad decisions, roads we should have taken but didn’t, relationships we thought were right for us that really weren’t–each one of us has a stream of brokenness behind us. Sorry. That’s just part of the deal. Every day we get up and leave the house, hoping it will be a ‘good one’, but understanding we have very little control over what the world throws at us.
Our hope as we leave is that we’ll respond with courage and decency, but we know deep down that the deck is always stacked against us, and all we can control is our response to the things coming at us. So sometimes we trust when we shouldn’t. Sometimes we believe the lies others tell us. Occasionally we invest in something we think is going to help us, and then find out in the end we’ve been hurt.
Every so often, despite our research, the referrals we’re given or the reviews we’ve read–we are wrong.
There are going to be times when the job we think is right for us turns out to be miserable. There will be others when the leader we trust turns out to be a disappointment. Sometimes we discover the person we love is harmful, or the thing we thought was safe for us really isn’t.
Listen closely, please: we can’t get bogged down in all of this.
We can’t let these mistakes and disappointments overwhelm us. I know: it’s easy to say, but so hard to do. It’s easy, especially if you are prone to self-reflection, to get overwhelmed by the ‘coulda-woulda-shoulda’s’. Stop–just stop. Each decision you made in your life was made because you thought it was the right one. You took an evaluation, and you responded. Now you are here.
Sure–some of those decisions may have been steered by fear, misinformation, or ego–but you did the best you could at the time, didn’t you? So forgive yourself, Friend.
You may not be where you expected yourself to be at this point in your life. But here’s the secret–the place you are is beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s the sum of your hopes and experiences thus far. Every single one of us has a different path and a different purpose, and we can’t judge our journey against anyone else’s. Especially the journey we’ve created for ourselves that lives only in our head.
Despite our brokenness, we have to be willing to go on our own safari in this beautiful but broken world, and keep working to become the person we know is hiding inside. We can’t allow time that’s passed, or mistakes we’ve made, to stop us from exploring. Our errors have also created surprise moments of beauty, Dearest–have you forgotten to see them?
I encourage you to take a lesson from Gibson.
Despite his scars, despite the perceived threats that come at him from the world, despite his tiny size–he gently chooses to trust. He stays close to the ones he loves, he steers his nose gently towards the beauty coming his way, and he continues to explore the glorious world around him.
It’s a good plan, isn’t it? So go on, Friend. Enjoy your safari. It will all be okay.
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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.