i was on the last stretch of my run (you guessed it, down a gravel road) when to my petrified surprise a group of 4 monstrous dogs came growling, sneering, and bolting my way. all i could think of was the antique horror film "cujo". you know, the one with the rabid st. bernard that malled people with his ferocious teeth and grizzly-like paws. cujo was a menace not to be disturbed. as the dust cloud behind the paws of my fast approaching slaughter grew closer the hair on the back of my neck was at an all time high... and so was the dogs. they were pissed off that i crossed their turf. and then, just as i thought my limbs were going to be torn from my body only to be a chew toy for the dogs, a moment of enlightenment. eureka! i remembered the wise words of my mother. no, it was nothing like "make sure you wear clean underwear, you never know if you'll get in an accident." although, with the face of death radiating before me i was in need of a new pair of shorts, but that's a different story. what i remembered was something that my mom learned through the training of each new puppy we had. through the piles of dog-training literature she discovered that if your growl at dogs - in any situation - they will back down immediately. i'd always laugh at her ridiculous suggestion. but i had nothing to lose (other than my very life) at this point. at once confidence filled my noodled frame and i turned and let loose a deep, terrifying, un-human like growl from the pit of my stomach. i was shocked with myself actually, but even more shocked to see the dogs come to a screeching halt and turn away with there tail between their legs.
sweet victory! i am brianna - heroin to those living with cynophobia! hear me growl! i was bad ass and i knew it. 4 apocalyptic-like dogs crumbled and ran away in terror from the fearlessness i tore loose. this moment of triumph got me thinking about living all of life with a confident and fearless grasp. if i could defeat a pack of mangy dogs with the words of my mother, then what else could i defeat with the words of the lord? if i could turn and face a (literal???... nah, i just like to exaggerate) near death experience with courage, why then do i not enter into the seemingly fearful circumstances of everyday life with a similar tenacious bravery? why do i think it's more hideous to expose my heart than fight against dogs? why is it more fearful to live out my faith? why don't i trust in the words of the lord in the capacity that i trusted in the counsel of my mother?
as i finished out my run i was invited to conquer fear once again, and reach out to a family in desperate need of love. at the end of the road that i was running on stands the house of our neighbors and recently they have been enduring what i am sure is nothing short of hell on earth. this family has sadly become the brunt of the town jokes. they are forever ridiculed for their ways, for their looks, for nearly everything that they do. i have never seen anyone stop by their house for a visit, and i have never heard kind words spoken by the neighboring farmers of the county. in effort to bind the raging force of gossip, i cannot say more about this family's "dark night" other than it's a night of darkest horror. the day that i heard of the tragedy i fell to my knees in prayer. i asked that the peace and grace of the lord would hover around the family and blanket every unfathomable emotion. further more i asked for the opportunity to extend love to them. i have to be honest for a moment and confess that the last prayer i don't even know if i really meant it. seriously. it's so easy for me to spread love to high school students, to my friends, to my co-workers; but to spread love to a family that i do not necessarily "feel" comfortable loving is a fear (or drudgery) of epic proportions. but i know more than i know anything else, that this family needs to be faced with hope rather than ridicule. they need support rather than suspicion. and they need the love of christ rather than the locked doors of their neighbors.
and so, as i made my way closer to the finish line of my run; which, as i mentioned before, is the home of my neighbors, i could feel the nudging of the spirit telling me to go over there. it was undeniable and i couldn't ignore it. but i made a million excuses as to why i couldn't, or shouldn't, go to this hurting family. "they probably don't even remember me."... "they are so sick of people flocking to their door to get more information i'm sure the last thing they want is another accusatory guest"... "i doubt they're even home."... i was more afraid of going to my neighbors house than i was of 4 wildly pissed off k-9's. now tell me, how does that make sense? after refusing the prompting of the holy spirit for a quarter mile, i finally caved and dared to believe in the power of christ.
where i would normally turn left and walk down the driveway of my parent's house, i continued walking forward to the cluttered driveway of my neighbors farm. i paused at head of the entrance and made the cowardly decision that if i saw one of them walking around the farm, then i would approach them and offer my sympathies. oh even as i type these words i'm disgusted by my fear and inability to trust. a few minutes passed and i felt like an incompetent lover of christ. i saw no life around the farm and so i turned and made my way back to my parent's house. as i began walking away, one of the family members came out of the barn. i turned and waved and continued on my way. maybe i did fold. i cannot deny that i have (and continue to) placed my hesitations higher on the pedestal of priorities than the need of another. but i'm still going to go back. i know that i articulate far more clearly through the scribblings of my pen - so i went out and picked a card to paint with the words of my sympathies. tomorrow when i'll return to my parent's house and i'll carry my shaking legs and the the words "love one another" shall be a lamp unto my feet.