Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
With mixed feelings, I put a red bandana on my dog, Cory. A red bandana on a dog signifies that they are “reactive” either to humans, other dogs or both. How could I advertise to the world that my sweet, former service dog, Cory was aggressive? No matter that it was brought about by a chance encounter with another dog and not her fault nor mine. Aggressive is not how I wanted my dog to be portrayed. Was I labeling her unfairly? Was I setting her up for trouble or discrimination? On the other hand, wasn’t it best to warn children or clueless adults to give her space? She simply does not like people or dogs in her face. She lifts her lip in warning if they violate her boundaries. Isn’t it better to keep them away rather than risk the chance of attack? The one response I was not prepared for was the feeling of relief. The secret was out. Cory is not a curly coated lab who loves everyone; she is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a dog bred not only to retrieve, but to guard their owner and possessions. I now had the visual reminder to warn, to ask people to stand back, to keep them from touching her. I relaxed and therefore, so did Cory. We had the freedom to simply be ourselves. As humans, we spend a lot of time pretending to be something we are not. We try to be “good” or even, perfect. We smooth our hair, take a deep breath and act like all is well. We conform by shutting our mouths when our hearts want to let out a rebel yell. We stifle our thoughts and feelings about right and wrong to please others. The funny thing is that the men and women God uses are the authentic ones. The ones who are willing to stand against the crowd, to go against the established thought of the times. Look at Gideon, Esther, David, Peter. Think about Bonheoffer, Tubman, King. Our country was founded by non-conformists. People willing to cross an ocean for the freedom to speak their minds and live life the way that they thought was right. Those with the courage to be different to stand up for what is right are the ones who bring change. Not easily, but with hard effort. Yet, so rewarding. The one good thing I see about our country’s current situation is that you can no longer be a fence sitter. The voices of weeping children and families force us to take a stand. Yes, there is a lot of bickering as a result, but the truth is rising out of the noise. In the same chapter where Jesus says the truth will set you free, He says the members of the established religion are not “Children of God.” They were offended and argued with Him, but He stood firm saying they belonged to the devil! Following Christ means following a rebel. So, be one.