It took a few times to work it out, but eventually the realization struck that I was gaining discernment into some people’s psychological and emotional states by how they reacted to various types of dogs. There have been nearly a dozen instances, such as when one man showed absolute disdain for a very small dog that was quivering. He so despised the poor little thing for its weakness, that it became evident something more was in play than simply a preference for a more stalwart pet. People possessing a character opposed to his, usually act in a caring manner—more inclined to protect the helpless little creature, even comfort it.
I supposed correctly that this man has a character flaw, and yet the root from which it thrives is where his psyche’ breaks down. He considers weak areas in himself. Anytime he sees someone, even an animal that resembles what he believes to be inside himself—he wants to turn away, and if he cannot do so, he lashes out. He has a deep sense of inadequacy. Unable to love himself, he cannot love something that reminds him of his own weakness, ugliness or flaw. But this is usually on a subconscious level. Many times the person has no idea that their dislike of things appearing weak stems from their own low self-esteem.
There are millions of us out here who tend to automatically dislike such a man, and dismiss him from any future contact. But knowledge always changes our actions. Love changes our responses. God changes the way we interact with the world around us through the wisdom He teaches us. Compassion is not only for the weak, but for all, even for those we think do not deserve it. Ah, I believe we’re now talking about mercy, which is grown from love.
Submitting to Jesus Christ’s Lordship changes the way we interact with the world around us.
Please don’t take this as some sort of formula to psychoanalyze a person! There are several reasons why someone may respond in a similar manner to a tiny dog that trembles at shadows. We have healthy young men who are still trying to convince themselves they are real man. Walking down the sidewalk with a cute, but wimpy little dog is just not masculine. At this stage of their development they avoid anything that might be construed as feminine. Toy dogs are for sissies, is the mindset. For such a young fellow, under the right circumstances, his thinking will be outgrown unless there comes a fracture in his identity, and then he may become like the first man.
When we begin to understand the difficulties people face on the inside of themselves we can better perceive how to help facilitate their healing.
My own response to the same dog was the opposite of that man I spoke of. The furry little ball of cuteness which he hated so much, drew me right to it. I picked up the puppy and spoke softly to him, stroking its downy soft fur. Mine was similar to a paternal reaction to the dog, because it was afraid, and yes, I began to not like that man at all. But then, the Lord began to show me this stuff, and everything turned around. Instead of disliking the man I began to pity him more than I did the dog. The unfortunate guy was miserable. Some past trauma had robbed him of a deep need of the heart: the ability to like and love himself.
Every good counselor, psychologist or social worker can tell you, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” Yes, there’s a lesser type of love we can have if we do not like who we are (by the way, that’s our cue to change). But it’s far from the kind of love God wants to make us capable of employing. When we don’t like ourselves, in every single one of our relationships we will eventually come to a barrier standing in the path of loving as we should.
Consider for a moment Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. We’re not talking about egotism, or being prideful and arrogant. On the contrary, every soul was created by God, in His own image, and has tremendous value. We were created to love God and to love one another. When we don’t like who we are, we should go to God and ask Him to help us change. As we communicate with God we begin to understand how much He loves us, and that’s a huge boost to our sense of self-worth.
The world is filled with deluded people, not knowing their own worth or value, and the world perpetuates their fallacious thinking by putting them down ever further. Let’s not be a part of that cycle, creating injured souls. We are to be a part of God’s construction crew building people up, rather than on the devil’s demolition squad tearing them down. Be nice. Be loving and kind. Be the light of truth in this dark world where there’s already far too much hatred. It’s not easy sometimes, but that’s why we must also encourage one another as we work towards the time when hate shall be no more.
With Eternity in View…