Before I left the house*, I saw Daisy, my dog, beckoning me over for a goodbye. I couldn’t resist. I went back to her, and gave her a belly rub. That was when I felt it.
I paused, and tapped on it to confirm what I was feeling. I began rubbing her again, as I slowly lifted her golden fur. Yup, it was a tick alright. Then I had (what it seemed like at that time) a brilliant idea.
I got up to bring her dog treat. I sat down beside her, and flashed her the treat; all the while rubbing the area with the unwanted visitor. Her eyes grew wide as she slowly inched closer to the treat. At first, I was delighted to see that my plan was working! She was falling for the treat, while the tick was falling for my grasp. But right before her mouth landed on the treat, she paused. Slowly, she turned her face to me. It wasn’t the face of excitement, but of alert. She knew something was up.
In a stroke of panic, I jammed the treat to her mouth, hoping she’d accept it. She opened her mouth, and landed on her target. The target wasn’t the treat… but my arm and hand. I’ll spare you of the bloody and bruised details, but I had to get five vaccinations that day.
On my way home from work, I was so tempted to get mad at Daisy. I was already thinking of the ways to punish her: I’d cage her, not give her treats, and spray water on her face. But then, for some reason, she reminded me of an incident that happened to me before. Except that I was Daisy during that time, the other person was me. Let me explain.
Ticks. Everyone’s got them.
I believe that everyone has their own set of ticks, whether or not they have a dog. They come in the form of bad habits that have been eating them up for years. They come in the form of behaviors that have never been addressed in childhood. They come in the bursts of selfishness that are rooted in our sinful nature.
Most people wouldn’t care to admit or even show others the size of their ticks. Why would they, when ticks reflect their weaknesses?
The danger with our ticks is that, if left attended, they remain a natural part of us. We fail to notice their presence anymore. What’s worse, they continue to grow bigger as they sick the life out of us.
If you would appropriate this story to reflect on the size of the ticks that you’ve left unaddressed, how big would the size of your ticks be? A while back, I found the largest tick on our new dog Winnie. I handed it over to my mom, and she burned it while my sister and I watched. At first, I expected it to bounce from the heat of the flame like all its smaller relatives. But instead of bouncing, its side opened and out came blood.
We were aghast at this, and wondered why Winnie never complained about it. Have you noticed your ticks? How much life needs to be drained from you before you start noticing it?
The good news is that we have people in our lives who actually want to take out our ticks. How? In human-to-human terms, the term is called correction.
I have yet to meet a person who can honestly say that they just love being corrected, and for good reason. Correction stings. Correction leaves a mark. Correction exposes our weaknesses, so we’d rather choose to hide these than address them. If they are exposed, however, but another person, a lot of us turn to denial or resentment. When was the last time you secretly resented the person that tried to remove your ticks?
Mine was just a few hours ago, and I got it from no less than my younger sister. But the Bible tells it differently, and the verse even goes:
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)
To heed means to pay attention to, to regard, and in other Bible translations, to listen. Even if it comes from your younger sister. While our tendency is to turn a blind eye to the correction we receive, the Bible actually warns us that doing so would make us do things that would only causes us regret, self-pity, or bitterness towards ourselves.
We love pointing fingers whenever we see someone doing wrong. We love to criticize others. Maybe because it’s easier to do. But when the gears shift towards our direction, out comes our inner grunting and mumbling from being exposed.
Kid Medicine for All Ages
Jesus said in Matthew 7:
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (3-5)
As I read this verse, I couldn’t help but think of the times my selfishness hindered such great opportunities to serve others. To better contribute to my team. To be more helpful around the house. To better lead and serve others. All because I choose not to listen.
Like a double-edged sword, correction can swing in a direction that makes it easier to serve others better, or in a direction that only hurts yourself and others. The way the the sword will swing will all depend on how you handle it.
Have you ever had that moment as a kid, when you were sick and they made you take this yucky-tasting medicine? This is yummy, they said. This will make you well, they said. As an adult now, I could say, after having lived this long, that at least one of those two statements wasn’t a lie. (I am relieved to have outgrown those medicines!)
Correction is like that kid medicine that didn’t taste good, but was actually good for your health. At first, it may make you get offended by the person who administered it to you, and at the same time, hate yourself for actually receiving it. But we can swallow it with joy knowing that it’s actually good for you. There won’t be any other medicine that will be as fast-acting in curing a selfish heart as correction.**
As I write this, the practice of embracing correction is one of the things I’m aiming to do more of this year. I am already expecting them to taste like that horrible tasting medicine, but I’ve been making an effort to conditioning my mind to take in wise correction. Though the benefits may not be felt as instantaneous, I can trust that they will help myself and those around in the long run.
What about you? Is there a particular correction you’ve heard in the past that you’re planning to take to heart and apply this year? How are you planning to actively embrace correction? Message me on Twitter @shewriteshim_
*Author’s note: This was written in December 2016. The bite Daisy dog gave me already healed.
**Author’s note: And in case our friends don’t correct us, don’t worry–the Holy Spirit will surely convict us of our wrongs! The best part about is that God already foresaw these, Jesus already died for these, and He will forgive us if we repent.