I went through a very bizarre fashion phase when I was about, let’s just say twelve, because that sounds better than the age I actually was. So, I was trying to figure out the meaning of life and more importantly, exactly what my accessorizing was going to tell the world about who I was. I’d say the rock bottom of that entire fashion-finding-myself phase was when I asked my mom to drive me to Pet Supermarket (okay, maybe I was old enough to drive myself) and give me some money so I could stick it into the machine that engraved stainless steel dog bone shaped tags. For the sake of clarity, those tags are for dogs. My plan was to have my own name and my new, personal phone number engraved on the front of a dog bone tag, which I would then put onto the choker I had around my neck.
I can’t recall what the thought process was behind that decision, but I do know I was very proud of the fact that I’d just been giving my OWN PHONE LINE. Like, a phone number that went to a phone that was only in my room.
I felt good in my dog bone collar. I had a phone number. I was comfortable. I was secure. I had arrived.
I don’t remember how long I rocked that dog collar. But, I know that I spent at least the next decade reaching for comfort and security in places that were usually less odd, but just as unfulfilling. Things like relationships and career opportunities and ADT alarm systems.
But lately, I’ve been learning that sometimes seeking God goes against seeking comfort and security. I’m learning that following Him can and often does feel uncomfortable and look strange, but not in the dog collar sort of way.
I had some trepidation about taking my youngest to the pediatrician the other day for her well visit. You see, I really like it when people like me. And our pediatrician used to like me. But then, I sent him the medical files of the deaf girl in China we had not yet decided to adopt, and his evaluation over the phone made it clear he thought I was crazy. He spoke slowly and in a tone that I haven’t been spoken to in since I was under the age of adult, as he explained that this didn’t seem like a very wise decision.
And, hey. I didn’t blame him at all. Just over six months ago, I would have used that same tone with myself. Because financially, emotionally, and pretty much in every other way, adopting Joy is way risky. And also, just a sort of bizarre life choice. Like, even more bizarre than wearing a dog collar. I get it.
Anyway, I sucked it up for Brooklyn’s appointment, made a few jokes, and finally (I think) got him in my corner-ish, or at least, I got him to change his tone and agree to be Joy’s doctor.
Following God to this unexpected and sometimes scary place is changing me. While wearing a dog collar made me feel like an individual, adopting a needy stranger is daily reminding me that I am a needy stranger. It’s a constant putting me in my place. With every phone call from our social worker and every dollar that leaves our bank account, and every miraculous provision that the Lord sends, I’m reminded how little I’m in control and how real Jesus is.
Twelve-(okay, fifteen)-year-old me believed this bizarre lie that wearing a dog bone collar with my name and phone number on it would be a unique and fulfilling life choice. But, it turned out to be so not those things.
Fifteen years and zero dog tags later, I have never felt happier or more peaceful than I do right now, as I move furniture around and learn a new language, because chasing true love beats chasing dog collars.