Dogs and Their Bones
Dixie and Daisy are my two rescue puppies. They are sisters and spend every moment together. One will not go outside without the other. They eat and drink from the same bowls. And they usually sleep touching each other in some way. But when it comes to bones, all bets are off! In the pictures here, you can see them when they are posing on their best behavior and then, in the other shot, they are tussling over possession of a bone. It’s not that they do not have two…they do. The other one is also on the couch with them, just not visible in the picture. But the presence of a second, just-as-good bone does not matter. They each want the bone the other one has, so they usually wind up pushing and pulling all over the house until one of them claims sole possession of the bone in contention.
But do you know what happens then? Let’s say that Dixie has taken control of the bone and settles in to chew. Daisy will then go and find the other bone and will then hold it in her mouth and walk casually by Dixie with an air of, “Look what I have!” That is all it takes. Dixie will drop that hard-won bone and the chase is on, “roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble,”* all around the house! Another round of fighting over the bone her sister has been showing off.
Now, I am pretty sure that most of the fighting is good-natured and playful, even though it is accompanied by lots of growls and barks. But I know if either of them was to lay those teeth on my arm, my “old-man” skin would be torn in an instant! And sometimes, the fight seems to move from good-natured to highly-competitive. Then someone wins and settles in with the bone to chew.
But do you know what happens then? You guessed it. Another cycle. Another fight. Another win. And another chance to start all over again. They both do it, because they both can’t stand to see the other have what they think they want!
Now remember…there are always TWO bones! They could both have their own and chew to their hearts’ content. But they do not. They would rather give up the good bone they have and take from their sister the bone they wish they had.
Sound familiar? Am I really describing the behavior of my dogs? Or am I illustrating our humanness in all its envious glory? Don’t we all act like Dixie and Daisy from time to time?
We start by enjoying the blessings God has given us…home, family, job, whatever it might be. We are even thankful for it as we know that God will and does take care of us! But then we see what someone else has. Those people have a better house. Or maybe a nicer car. Or a cooler job…a better-behaved kid…more attention at school or church…a newer outfit. And in the instant we register that someone else has something better, newer, or different from us, we drop the satisfaction and contentment of God’s blessings and wonder why we can’t have something else!
I love the proverb of Solomon: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
Wouldn’t life be better if we lived in that peace? Now, this certainly does not mean we should not work hard to do better or that it is wrong to be able to provide nice things for our families. But that hard work and those nice things will never satisfy if they are gained by living with envy of others or with a spirit of discontent. One thing will lead to another. They cycle will repeat and the feeling of being blessed by God and content with His love and mercy will be lost somewhere along the way.
So, what do you have to be thankful for today? Remembering our blessings is a great way to start living with contentment. And when we focus on those blessings, we will be less likely to look around at what others have!
I doubt Dixie and Daisy will ever get that. But, then…they are dogs. We are children of the living God and live in the blessing of His love. Let us be content and know we are blessed.
* My favorite quote from a book we read constantly to our sons: The Poky Little Puppy, by Jeanette Sebring Lowery.