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"As I gave up steering my own ship, I watched God miraculously open doors I had no business walking through; doors that I never could have opened on my own. "

  • Writer's pictureDenise Grace Gitsham



Hard, but doo-able

This morning, I took my dog to the do-it-yourself grooming spot and scrubbed him from head to tail. Almost.

While washing him, I felt maternal pangs over how nervous he looked in that big old tub. Since I usually drop him off with the groomer, I never knew how much he hated the whole process. I wasn't sure if it was the hose, the tub, or the change in scenery that caused his anxiety to show, but I was desperate to end his suffering as quickly as possible.

So I rushed through his bath in the hopes of restoring Jack to his hairy, happy, and better-smelling self. As I toweled him off, he looked fresh as a daisy. I stepped back to admire my handiwork…groomer, schroomer! Feeling good about my skills, I began blowing out his golden locks. But as I leaned in to take a whiff of his freshly washed coat, I gagged.

A telltale smell emanated from his hindquarters, and a lifting of his tail revealed a sizeable clump of poop dangling from his thigh. In my rush to end Jack’s misery, I’d overlooked a critical part of his body. The oversight was significant enough to render my efforts and Jack’s suffering a total waste.

So back into the tub he went for round two. His big brown eyes looked at me pitifully, asking why the mom he worshipped would put him through this torture, twice in one hour. I apologized and gave his sudsy nose a kiss. There was nothing I could do, I told him - the poop had to go!

As I scrubbed Jack’s butt, I couldn’t help but think of the parts of my own life I’d failed to “lift a tail” on. Take, for example, relationships. In my single years, the men I dated looked great on the outside: handsome, polite, witty, and well-resumed. But a closer look – and sniff - would have made anyone gag. Their arrogance, selfishness, and blind ambition rendered them smelly to the core.

In friendships, too, I overlooked things that I never should have. In my thirties, I rolled with a group of brilliant, accomplished, and socially gifted people. We traveled everywhere together, enjoyed jetsetting experiences, feasted on great food, and had fabulous conversations. Everything was great, until my life took a turn for the serious. When I needed a real friend, only a precious few proved to be as beautiful on the inside as they were on the out.

In my own life, I was equally gifted at living in denial. So much so that I earned the nickname “therapy drop-out.” I hated every therapist I met - not because they weren’t lovely people, but because I wasn’t ready to deal with the gag-worthy parts of my life. The moment that changed, however, the “lifting of my tail” led to spiritual and emotional deliverance, maturity, and freedom.

Today’s grooming experience was a pungent reminder of just how important it is for me to never stop shining a light on the state of my heart. Jack’s double dose of suffering was entirely avoidable, and so is mine. All it takes is the courage to look in places I’d rather avoid, and the strength to rid my life of its proverbial poop. Easier said than done, of course, but with God’s help and a willing heart, entirely do(o)-able (insert groan, pun intended!)...

We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change. – Dr. Henry Cloud There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. – Proverbs 14:12.

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