I watched an episode of Cesar Milan's "The Dog Whisperer" a few weeks ago and was fascinated by the dynamic between man and dog. It looked like Milan had taken on "Mission Impossible" with this particular mutt -- a wild, willful bundle of energy. The dog was acting out as his emotions ran amok: anxiety, fear, self-protection, frustration, anger, desire to dominate, urge to flee and more. He was a real handful, even for the masterful dog whisperer.
The dog lunged and snarled; the man stood his ground, asserting who was in charge. The dog menaced; the man didn't flinch, instead putting his hand on the canine. The dog went ballistic, trying to break free from the man's grasp, despite that fact that the man was superior in size, power and intelligence. The dog resisted; the man persisted. The more the dog rebelled, the more the man effectively reinforced who was calling the shots.
The tension was riveting. My stomach knotted as I watched the struggle between man and beast. Who would prevail? Had the dog whisperer finally met his match? Would this crazy canine get the best of the famous dog tamer? Or would Milan, the savior of incorrigibles, be able to work his magic on this hopeless case?
The suspense was palpable; my body tensed as I watched the drama unfold. Then, out of nowhere, as if the network had broken into the program for a special announcement, I had an epiphany. As I watched the struggle onscreen, it dawned on me: I am that dog! The struggle between the dog and his whisperer mirrored the struggle between me and my God.
As the show concluded, Milan explained how the dog will be less anxious, happier and more secure when he submits to the powerful, protective energy of the pack leader. And I realized how much happier I am when I feel the strength and security of God's power and grace. Just as dogs thrive when they know their place in the pack, I thrive when I know my place in the universe. Dogs are happiest when they experience positive discipline, structure and love; I am happiest when I experience the same.
The TV show drew to an end with the dog whisperer victorious and his former canine combatant, falling into line behind him. I chuckled -- not at the dog, but at myself.
Like many dogs, I am a slow learner, as well as a fast forgetter. On those occasions when I forget who is the alpha God in my life and become disconnected from the holy, I suffer separation anxiety. When that happens, I get caught up in anxiety, fear, self-will and defiance. Lapsing into bad behavior, I flail around, howl at the moon and make a mess of myself and my surroundings -- out of control and out of harmony with everyone and everything.
I need to be reminded frequently that I am not "The God Whisperer." I do not bend God to my will. I am not the alpha. I do not train God to follow my lead. And if I ever think I'm the alpha, I've got it backward.
Instead, I am the one in need of leadership and it is God who is "The Soul Whisperer," working with my willful, unruly and undisciplined soul, patiently, lovingly taming my restless, rebellious spirit. The moment I finally surrender to my Higher Power, the instant I quit trying to call the shots, everything falls into place. It is only then, when my will is aligned with His will, that the soul whisperer is able to work His magic with me ... and I am transformed.
BJ Gallagher's new YouTube movie is "If God is your co-pilot, switch seats."