Five years ago, we had just moved into our house in Donelson from the dorm at Trevecca. We had two wild-as-bucks lab puppies, I was working in dermatology, and Ken had just finished his Master’s in Business Administration. Everyone had always told us that an MBA was the ticket to a six-figure salary, and that he would never have trouble finding a job — not that he had ever had trouble with that. Until that summer.
I wrote the following in July of 2006 . . .
Just before the puppies came to us, I asked you all for puppy advice.
The Gaffords offered this:
I can’t really think of any particular products to recommend, but one of the best things we did for Allie was to teach her submission. We did this several times a day (especially if she was getting too wild, etc.). All you do is flip the pup over on his/her back (either on the floor/ground or in your lap) and hold him/her down with your hand. The idea is to not let them get up until they’ve relaxed. They learn to trust you this way. This has also come in handy as we’ve needed to trim nails or do ear drops, etc. If you teach it to them when they’re puppies, it will make it a lot easier later on.
It was great advice, and our vet reinforced the same principle. Hold them down, belly up, until they relax. Submission. Trust.
That’s how I’m actually feeling in our life right now. Ken is still looking for a job. When he didn’t get the job we thought was his in February – a dream job coordinating a team to create and write young adult ministry material – we were assured by family and friends, “That’s because God surely has something better planned.”
Yet here we wait. Ken is done as RD. Other dream jobs that we thought were his have come and gone. We are no further along in the job search process than we were a month ago. In fact, we’re further behind.
And maybe God does have some spectacular job waiting around the corner. Perhaps someone will call him tomorrow and offer Ken a job that takes into account his experience and education as well as his talents and social skills.
But for now, I feel like one of the puppies, held down on my back. Learning to trust. Trying to relax.
The truth is, when I turn the puppies over, sometimes I have no reason other than to teach them to trust me. To learn submission. Sometimes it is to give them a belly rub or clean their paws. But I also sometimes just have to hold them down to teach them to rest, even while they are uncomfortable.
I think too often we try to rationalize God’s behavior, demanding that everything work out to make sense –wanting there to be a reason for being forced to wait and hold still. Expecting, almost demanding, for there to be a good reason for the forced submission. We expect that God will always have something better around the corner when He lets us up.
And He very well may. Yet insisting that God answer me in a way that I think makes sense or provide something better means that I’m not really allowing God to be God. Part of allowing God to be God to me is letting Him hold me down, forcing me to wait, forcing me to trust.
Yes, forcing me to submit.
And sometimes for no other reason than for me to recognize that He is God, and I am not.
There may be something wonderful around the corner, or there may be more waiting, or there may be something that isn’t what we had hoped for.
All is not lost. I don’t despair. I can trust that He is good. Whether Ken gets a job of his dreams that now seems out of reach, or stays at home as a full-time puppy wrangler, or stocks shelves, God is still good. I can choose to be angry at God for holding me down, or I can relax in His arms, knowing that whether this time will end the way I hope, or the way I fear, He is still good.
So as I feel like a puppy lying belly up on a bare floor, I’m learning to relax in the hand of the One who is good, no matter what circumstances may come.
Indeed, there was more waiting to come. It was an additional year before Ken started his job at our current church, and only at 1/4 time. It wasn’t until 18 months after that when he finally went full-time. Whether the delay was about understanding submission, realizing God’s goodness in spite of circumstances, or figuring out God’s plans are not about me but about Him, there were lessons to be learned along the way.
Time waiting is never wasted.