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Penalty pen

Penalty pen

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer | Ernst-Ulrich Schafer

It happened once, but in Annie’s canine perspective it could happen every time. As the truck idled in the driveway, a squirrel ran underneath. Annie saw it, and frantically circled the truck. The squirrel had every advantage—speed and nearby trees making a fast get-away.

So now, whenever the truck is getting ready to depart, Annie runs around it incessantly. Waiting for a squirrel to emerge.

Annie is not thinking about the danger of getting run over—she’s not even listening to the command to sit and stay while the truck leaves. Hence, she now sits in her penalty pen—so she can learn her lesson.

Do I not do the same sometimes? Something happens once, maybe twice, and then I no longer listen to reason. It’s all about what I imagine it to be. I have well-rehearsed lines that I repeat. It’s as if there will always be squirrels running around and I need to chase them.

But what if I slow down, even sit and stay like Annie should be doing, and consider the situation more calmly? I might realize that even if there is a squirrel running around, chances are it’s as confused as I am at the moment, and we both need time to find a way through.

If I can remember to give plenty of grace to others while they figure things out, then maybe I’ll spend less time in my own penalty pen for giving others my unnecessary words.

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6

Karen Farris served in the crisis pregnancy ministry — traveling thousands of miles and speaking to over 10,000 students about their life choices — for nearly a dozen years. She became a grant writer and helps find resources for projects that serve those in poverty, mainly children. She's been a blogger since 2010 — Friday Tidings — sharing stories of faith, life, and purpose to give hope in a hurting world.