I’m not really a dog person, but I accidentally volunteered to feed my mother-in-law’s dogs twice a day when she was going in for surgery. And here I am again months later, now serving as the “expert” in dog feeding. One of her dachshunds is 16 years old, gray hair and all. As far back as I can remember Freddy has always yapped his sharp bark the whole time his food dish was being prepared. When I wasn’t the dog food expert I could go outside to escape. But now that dog food preparation is my job, I decided something had to be done about that yapping. But the question is, can a 16 year old dog learn new tricks? I discovered that, yes, an old dog can learn new tricks.
Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about flexibility and change. There are major changes in my life as we’ve uprooted from our South African home to return to the States. And instead of driving for days to visit our missionary friends we will have to be flying in across the oceans. These major changes are difficult enough, but I’ve discovered that sometimes it is much more difficult to make the smaller changes in our lives. Changing habits or the way we’ve always done things is much harder.
In moving into my mother-in-law’s house to help care for her I ran smack into my own set patterns that I was unaware of in my own home. I had well-honed patterns for meal preparation. I liked to leave the house to arrive at the exact time for church, not 30 minutes before and not late. And I allowed myself only a few minutes to prepare things before leaving. Works for me! But my patterns did not merge well with my mother-in-law’s lifestyle or needs. I needed to make some changes in how I did things but found just how decrepit and inflexible I felt. Was I too fossilized to change?
When I recognized that my inflexibility was in direct conflict with my desire to be godly and bring Him glory, my training began in earnest! The next element of training was serious prayer. And the Master Trainer took over and started putting me through my paces, including daily opportunities to make choices based on my mother-in-law’s needs rather than my own habits and desires. I’ve been able to see some of my patterns changed and I’m slowly learning “new tricks.” Just like Freddy, I’ve had days of relapses in which I just wanted to be me, or should I say “the old me.” But persistence is winning the day. I never want to get too fossilized for change. I’m so grateful that the Master Trainer is always ready to teach me “new tricks.”