They bicker constantly, and their voices can be heard throughout the house.
It would be understandable if I was speaking of the kids. Or even adults. Being together constantly wears on everybody’s niceness after a while.
I’m talking about the dogs. Aspen, the three-year-old male Lab, and Estes, the year-old female Australian shepherd. Their annoyance with one another has ramped up in the past week, and they tussle and battle from room to room.
They may be picking up on the angstiness among the people living here. We’re getting along well, but everyone needs to walk away from a situation every now and again. To separate from others for a moment of decompression. We’re all becoming more aware of how we need to do that and when.
The dogs don’t have that judgment. If they get too rambunctious with each other, they’re kenneled, away from everyone else and each other.
We’ve all been kenneled in our homes of late. If I go out without concern for my safety and the safety of others–not wearing a mask, not social distancing–I’m acting like a stray that has no one to hold me accountable.
It takes a village to live through a virus. We’re in this together, and we need to be aware of one another’s needs as well as our own.
Personal frustration leads to disruptive behavior when our plans are hijacked and we can’t control our circumstances. We’re not free to do as we please. Freedom isn’t acting anyway I want whenever I want; it’s a heart response of respect that recognizes we’re all different, with different needs and stories. True freedom is living within the boundaries of kindness and consideration.
The dogs don’t fully appreciate that. Being in a kennel is their time out, and they aren’t always able to connect the dots to understand their behavior has put them in seclusion. They bark their dislike of being constrained and taken away from those they want to be with.
Am I any different? I whine about my dislike of restraint and push the envelope on what I can and shouldn’t do. Those around me are affected by my crabbiness and discontent with restrictions.
We will become irritated with one another over small, foolish things. Isolation creates a vacuum of perspective where the focus too often becomes just me.
We need to be willing to share our inner angst with those we know and love.
More importantly, we need to share those emotions and attitudes with God. He willingly listens without judgment; He hears the heart of our misery and understands our pain.
And He’s always available. I don’t have to make an appointment to speak with Him.
I just do it.
It’s so easy for me to be reactive during times of frustration and disappointment. I need to unload these feelings in a healthy way so they don’t build up in my heart. Talking with God and knowing He cares about what I’m going through helps me realize I’m not alone.
I don’t need to be kenneled for bad behavior. I need to talk about things with Someone who will listen.
No angst required.