I went camping and kayaking last weekend and because I could not find someone to watch over my little dog, my husband and I decided to take her with us. She is a small chihuahua mix rescue whose default is to shake a lot.
There is a remarkable story behind that dog, I rescued her from a trailer park neighborhood. Her owner died, no one wanted her. She had been left outside inside a cat carrier for days, with no food or water. Luckily it had been raining so she was able to get water but was also soaked- you could literally see everyone bone in her body.
When I picked up the carrier, she was in the corner shaking, I took her home and it took me two hours (and 2 McDonalds hamburgers) to get her to come out of the carrier on her own. The dog was 5 lbs. (she is currently 9 and still looks skinny) and was so afraid of everything, she would freeze and pee herself. She would pee herself if you walked towards her or talked too loudly. She was also terrified of shoes, broomsticks, books, doorways, cats, men, etc. It was hard to get her to eat, since if you moved even an inch, she would run away hide and pee on herself.
Eventually over time, she learned to trust me, then my husband then my family- but is still generally scared of everything. We were a little nervous to take her camping and kayaking with us.
When we went kayaking, I put a little life jacket put a towel between my legs and placed her there. At first, she was petrified, not moving between my legs for like 10 minutes, but then eventually she started to pick up her head, within 30 minutes she was standing up on my legs and turning around to look at people that responded to her. By the end of the 3 hours kayaking she was moving between my legs and the back of the kayak, smelling the air, responding to people and even jumped into the water trying to get to my husband kayak- the funny thing is that she had her tail between her legs the entire time.
Later on, when we arrived at our destination, which was a beach. I put her on the sand, she had a leash but I wasn’t holding it, because she never leaves my side. However, this time, she decided to walk to group of strangers, carefully and with her tail between her legs to ask for pets (she does this thing where she stretches out a certain way to try and get the butt scratches). In fact, the rest of the trip she did that a couple times to strangers that were near us (including a group of men!), and she also jumped in the water and swam, still the tail between her legs. While she did these little brave actions, she would look back at me a lot, just to make sure I was close by.
I knew she was scared but she chose to be brave, explore, and have fun—all while trusting that I was there.
Two years ago, I wrote about Choosing Joy and it has been hard this year, especially with all the fear-mongering.
One of the most commons fears are social phobia (social anxiety), atychiphobia (fear of failing) and atelophobia (fear of being imperfect). Maybe you have a different type of fear. During those time of fear remember what God has spoken to us:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
We might always carry our fear, many of us because of past emotional or even physical trauma. People hurt us in the past, circumstances broke our strength, trauma scarred us—but we can be strong and courageous knowing that God is near. We can trust Him to never forsake us!
And yes, it took my dog’s actions to remember that-we forget so easily but the Spirit is good at reminding us.
Knowing that we carry this spirit of power, strength and courage, we can rejoice in the Lord and Choose Joy.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! Philippians 4:4
So be brave, trust God and choose Joy