Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Every evening at twilight, a drama unfolds in my back yard. War breaks out along the fence that separates the house from the pasture. Something about the ebbing light gives Lucy an assertiveness she lacks during the rest of the day. She seems to grow ten feet and her voice deepens. The horses pace back and forth looking for their dinner. I see them when I come home from work, but start the human’s meal before changing into old clothes and heading out to do barn chores. Waiting makes the horses anxious. They begin to trot and run in circles. They stand at the gate calling me while Lucy darts back and forth charging them. She looks like the typical image you see on television of a Doberman, gums back, all teeth, she growls and barks. The horses become even more frantic. They buck and kick at the fence, but Lucy continues her assault. Doesn’t she realize that they are ten times her size and weight? Don’t the horses understand that they have nothing to fear? Their hooves and size could easily crush her, yet they act afraid and she seems invincible. Ordinarily, the horses and dogs ignore each other, but for a time each night, Lucy picks the fight and the horses’ reaction gives her incentive to keep up the chase. I am sure she likes the feeling of power as they run aimlessly about the pasture. Do you have a person like that in your life? Someone who knows exactly which of your buttons to push to make you react? No matter how hard you try, or remind yourself that you won’t act like that again, they know just what to say or what to do to bring you right back where you vowed you would never be. Do you explode or cry? Maybe you get defensive or conciliatory. Do you succumb to eating or drinking or cursing? Do you get silent and stone faced? However you respond, it gives someone else control of your emotions if even for a few minutes. They like that feeling of power and once more you feel helpless and anxious. What to do about people like that? I love the whole chapter of Romans 12, but I think that these verses in particular give us a key to getting rid of those old patterns. Instead of reacting the same way every time, we need to ask God to renew our minds. So many times, our reaction to the button pushers comes from old hurts and fears. If we stand on the truth of who God says we are, we can resist the impulse to give in to the old ways. Instead of shrinking back in fright, my horse needs to remember that he is 1,000 pounds with four strong legs that can deliver a deadly blow to the little dog who darts in and out around him. Stand firm in the truth of God’s will for you. Remember Whose child you are.