Sunday, March 6, 2011

Seeking Attention

When I know my dog's food bowl is empty, I fill it. The question is, "how do I know when it's empty?"

Since my dog doesn't have the ability to fill the bowl himself, he relies on the most available- and attentive- human to meet his need for nourishment. That would be either me or my wife. I discovered that he attracts our attention differently because we each have a different kind of relationship with him.

My wife loves cats- especially the two that occupy our bedroom. She feigns displeasure for my dog but deep down she cares for him too. She just doesn't like to admit it- similar to the posture I assume with her cats. That being said, my dog attracts her differently than he does me. When his bowl is empty, he must get my wife's attention in demonstrable and discernable ways. He will slide his empty food dish around the floor insuring that it makes noises otherwise my wife may not notice that it's empty.

I, on the other hand, am more consistently conscious of both my dog's presence and his needs. I am sensitive to the fact that he is actually emptying his bowl and anticipate its soon-to-be emptiness. There are times when I may miss the consumption of the last morsel but am quickly made aware when the dog may quietly stare at me or allow the ball that accompanies his dinner to drop from his mouth and bounce around the bowl.

The dog must do more to get my wife's attention than he does to get mine. Is there a metaphor here that shows us something about how we relate to God? Could it be that each of us learns by experience what "works" to get God's attention? God isn't different like my wife and are; that's not my point. My point is that we are different and we learn good and not so good ways to try and get God's attention. Sometimes we have to ignore or discipline our dog because his attention-seeking ways are distracting or simply unacceptable. We often experience the same response (or lack of) when we try to push conventionally unhealthy buttons thinking it will endear God to our narcissisum. ("name it and claim it" just for an example.)

It is comforting to consider, though, that God may be so fathomless that he knows how to relate to each of us and to allow our connection with him to develop through time and experience.

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