Nap, Interrupted

There is a ritual in my home. It is constant as the tides, intricate as the shifting of winds, as majestic and mysterious as Chris Hemsworth’s hair. It is the process of my dog Bear getting on the couch.

 

 

It begins with the The Look. Sarah McLachan would weep to see Bear in the throes of cushion depravation. He rests his chin on the sofa and casts the Gaze of Supplication towards me. I respond, “C’mon up, buddy.” He considers, then turns to my husband, seated next to me. Bear’s body language suggests he will need written authorization from all parties currently occupying the couch.

It is important to stop here and note that Bear is – and has always been – allowed on the sofa. At no point in his life has he gotten in trouble for getting onto our furniture. Regardless, he watches my husband anxiously for a sign of acceptance. Once that is attained, he lifts his chin, hesitates, then puts it back down. Thus begins The Encouraging.

The Encouraging starts with one of us slapping the sofa cushion and saying, “Up!” Bear is unconvinced. We tuck our feet, move cushions, and clear off any item that Bear may see as obstructing his way up. His eyes accuse our callous indifference to his plight. He remains on the floor. Then comes the freestyle phase. We pat the cushion while chanting “BEAR BEAR BEAR BEAR” in unison, mixing in an occasional “Up!” and slap to Bear’s rump. The key here is enthusiasm. When perfectly executed, the chanting and pounding of cushions steadily increases in volume and tempo until at the crescendo Bear’s ears prick forward, he sweeps his tail in the Wag of Acceptance, and leaps up to his rightful place.

However, Bear also enjoys a variation of our ritual called the False Start. When The Encouraging has reached fever pitch and the sofa is quaking from the fury of our blows, his ears prick forward. He shifts his weight forward. His muscles tense. And he walks off, sits down and scratches his ear. This constitutes a reset, and the ritual begins anew.

With or without the variation, it all ends with Bear sprawled across the couch, taking up more space than me and my husband combined, cheeks puffing and making little puppy woofs while he dreams of apprehending squirrels.

 

 

Routines and rituals fill our lives. Some are mindless. Some are harmful. Some are holy. Some are necessary structure, like brushing your teeth. And some are just there to make you smile every day. It’s helpful to occasionally think about our patterns, so we can strengthen the good, change the bad, and appreciate the absurdities that bring us joy.

Tear down the damned high places

Whenever I read through the Kings and Chronicles of the old testament, I get frustrated at this statement that’s tacked onto the end of almost every single king’s reign- whether he was evil or righteous –  “… but he didn’t tear down the high places.”

I’m not theologically schooled enough to fully break down what “high places” meant for the ancient Israelites or the full spiritual symbolism, but to me it symbolized an evil stronghold that even the good leaders of that time didn’t have the will or guts to get rid of.

Seeing this phrase annoyed me so much that it stuck with me… and became irritatingly relevant.

Ya see, there was a habit in my life I was holding on to that was not good for me. Eventually, I half-heartedly built a barrier to keep it out of my life. But… my wall had cracks all in it. I kinda sorta maybe left ways for this habit to worm its way back into my thoughts. After a few times of thinking about the habit, it started to seem less harmful.. silly almost. Then I thought “I’m strong enough to handle this,” and started to dabble in it again. Then dabbling turned into regular use, regular use into bingeing… Which of course made me feel especially guilty and terrible, because I knew I was fully re-immersing myself in a behavior that — at my best — I didn’t want.

holeinwall
Feeble wall building =  lamé

But later in my life, my amazing wise sister came to visit. My sister cannot stand this habit, and especially what this habit did to me. I was explaining to her how my most recent entanglement with this habit had upset me. Although she was sympathetic – dear soul that she is – I could also tell that she was frustrated. And in my heart of hearts I couldn’t blame her! I was choosing to let myself be hurt.

So I set my face like steel, and this time when I cut this habit it out, I pulverized it. 100%.

That same week, I met my next boyfriend.*  While we were dating and sharing about ourselves, this habit came up… as they always seem to do … and he asked me straight up if I was still a regular user, so to speak. I’m telling y’all… it felt amazing to look him in the eye and be able to honestly say “Nope. That is 100% donezos.”

Before, a part of me was unwilling to cut this habit off completely.  Because like almost all habits that enfold you and steal your heart away from wholeness, this habit could be, well, quite enjoyable. But eventually, I did tear down my “high places.” It wasn’t because the habit stopped being appealing, it was because the idea of freedom from this habit become even more appealing.

(Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page; the back channels of access to this habit were my “high places.” Despite all of my other “reforms,” these last strongholds were irksome markers of my own rebellion.)

Do I miss this habit sometimes? Yep. Maybe I always will, at least a little. But at the same time, I’ve never regretted cutting it out, and I have honestly never received so much positive feedback from all the people who *love* me after I built a real wall, with no cracks, no back-entryways into my life.

“For freedom Christ has set us free..” – Apostle Paul (Galations 5:1)

So… tear down the damned high places in your life. Be free 🙂

freedom
Me rn

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Granted, that didn’t exactly end well. But THAT’S NOT THE POINT