One of the most difficult problems I've had in training Barnabas over the past few months is trying to establish myself as a "leader of the pack." After spending much of his life on his own, he had assumed the role of being the boss and taking care of himself. Within a few days of having him, Jason had already established his role as the pack leader. It was clear Barnabas trusted and respected him. Me? Not so much.
Perhaps it was the sadness over losing Mitchell and the anxiety over training a new dog that radiated from me and told Barnabas I was perhaps too wishy-washy to be trusted. Or maybe it was that I had listened to far too many terror tales about pitbulls, and I didn't trust him. Either way, we were caught in an endless cycle. He didn't trust me because I didn't trust him and vice versa.
It has taken me months to pull myself together and show him that I can, indeed, be trusted. On more than one occasion, I've had to place myself between Barnabas and a stray dog to assert myself as the leader and protector. I had to show Barnabas that he didn't have to be self-sufficient. I needed to prove to him I have what it takes to care for him and that I love him enough to do so.
Yesterday, I finally saw undeniable proof that my efforts have paid off. Because of heavier traffic on our normal walking trail, I decided to take an alternate route. (Before I go any further, let me tell you a little secret about Barnabas. He may be a 70-lb pitbull that's strong as an ox, but he scares VERY easily. Keep that in mind as I continue the story.) Along this particular trail, there is a four-foot-tall mesh structure in the shape of a rabbit. This structure is filled with trash (or at least it looks like trash to me.) I assume it is some form of modern art. Who knows? Anyway, as soon as Barnabas spotted it, he darted behind me, placing me between himself and "the danger." He peeked from behind my legs, trying to get a good look at the strange creature without putting himself in harm's way. At first, I laughed at his comical behavior, but then, I realized my victory--he trusted me. He ran behind me for protection, knowing that I would keep him safe or die trying. (Fortunately, the mesh bunny didn't put up much of a fight.)
Through it all, I got a clear idea of how our Lord must feel. After all, doesn't He long for His children to trust him? But we, like Barnabas, often feel the need to do it alone. We're so used to doing things for ourselves and having to be self-sufficient that we fail to realize the joy, peace and comfort that can be found by trusting in our Heavenly Father. Imagine the pleasure we bring to our Lord when we run to Him for shelter, for protection from whatever enemy we're facing. How delighted He must be when we finally trust Him enough to leave the situation in His hands instead of trying to deal with it ourselves. Our dependence on Him doesn't make Him feel used or abused. On the contrary, it makes Him feel loved and trusted, and take it from me, that is a great feeling!