There comes a time in each of our lives that we have to recognize that it is time to let go of something. For me the hardest thing to let go are my animals. I have had two border collies in my life and both lived to be pretty old. My first collie, Spice, lived to be about 13 years old. Before she died she was blind and getting hard of hearing. She suffered from cancer but I had a hard time letting go of her. I knew in the end, that it was the humane thing to do but nevertheless a hard thing to do.
My current border collie is seventeen years old. He has suffered from kidney disease for the past four years. Over the last few years he has declined. He has lost a lot of weight and has begun to get very senile. He often doesn’t remember where he is and will start barking. He is in decline and again, I’m struggling with letting go. How can you just say goodbye to something that has been a part of your life for so long? I know that death is a part of life but for me the decision with an animal is hard. They can’t tell you what is wrong or if they are just going through the motions. I think Seamus’s time is coming and I must learn to let go. It doesn’t mean that I love him less but it is merciful to say goodbye when all he does is sleep and acts confused.
I just ask for strength and the love God has given me to finally let him go. How have you let go of something you held dear to you?
When my dog, Seamus, was young he would gently guide the various cats we had around. He would let the first cat he ever knew, Mistletoe even sleep with him. He has always been surrounded by cats but in the last few months he has had three cats in his life.
As he has gotten rather old and senile, the cats have taken to herding him and watching over him. He can’t tell when he goes out (in a fenced in yard) that it is time to come in. Often, he will stand at the back door wanting in but even when you open the door he doesn’t have a sense that it is open. Only his cat friends are there to let him know that it is time to come in. They will cut in front of him, nuzzle their face into his face and at times walk under him to get his attention.
This role reversal reminds me of people and especially leaders. At times, we need to know when to follow and when to lead. Just because you are a leader either by position or by your talent there are times that you don’t know where to go or have the skills or knowledge to lead the way. You must be humble enough to know when to lead and when to follow and not let your ego get in the way. It’s amazing to me that by watching animals interact we can learn a little on how we should act. The next time I am leading, I hope I take the time and self-reflection to look around and realize that I might not be the person at the time to lead. I also hope, that in reverse, that if I’m following and I do have the belief that I can better lead than the person that is that I have the strength to step out in lead.
Most people don’t know this but I received my degree in psychology. Back while I was getting my degree, one of the questions that would come up time to time was does our environment or how we are made up determine who we are? I have pondered that question from time to time because I am a twin. Many studies have been performed to answer this question with twins. Often they are performed on twins that were separated by birth. That is not the case with my sister and I, we lived in the same household and shared a room together until we were about seven. We were in the same classroom for kindergarten but had separate classrooms from first grade. In fact, in the fourth grade because of circumstances we were in different grades.
I have often looked at my sister and myself and asked the question, is it how we were treated and the environment we grew up in or was it the way God created us. I personally think that question can not be answered in a all or nothing answer. I think that both how we were raised or our environment and who are because of how we were created co-influence us.
Case in point, my sister and I were raised by the same parents and were under the same rules. My mom believed that part of our differences came from the fact that my sister was released from the hospital only after a few days, while I was in there for almost a week. Part of that time, I was the only baby in the nursery on Mother’s day weekend. My mom believed that during my first days here on earth, I was held and talked to by many hospital personnel as well as my parents. My sister on the other hand, went home to new parents who were a little afraid to touch her and didn’t quite know what to do. She believed that I was more connected and self assured because of the first few days of my life.
I, on the other hand, believe that it is partly how I was created along with my interaction with my environment has made me who I am. I remember distinctly a time when my sister and I were around seven years old and were at the doctor’s office for our annual check-up. When the doctor came in to give us our shots he asked, “who is first?”. My sister pushed me up to Dr. Burnett and said her. It was this incident plus many others that my sister made me the leader of us in many situations. I believe because of her pushing me, it is why I have become a leader today. It was not something that was naturally in me but over the years after leading her, I began to feel comfortable about leading others. I began taking on the role without it being pushed on me. I believed while even though the environment, in this case my sister, influenced my becoming a leader. I also think that I was created with the desire to help people which was God created. (For more information about this, please see my previous post on this.) What do you think, are we who we are because of our environment or is it because of the way God made us?