Growing up on a little farm meant that dogs were a natural and necessary part of our lives. We almost always had at least one (sometimes more) big dog. Somewhere along the line we got a little Pekinese mix and she ruled all the other dogs, but that’s another story. For several years we had a good-sized German Shepherd mix we named Keno (I had never heard that was a form of gambling when I was a kid, so I have no idea where the name came from.) Keno was a loving, friendly and energetic family dog, but he protected his territory, especially our house.
Keno slept and stayed outside, even in the cold winters. On nice nights, he would sleep on the front lawn, always alert for any incursion upon his territory (our property). One evening, some friends were coming to spend their last night in town before they moved away. They had finished packing quite late and finally arrived at our place long after we were bedded down for the night. As their headlights turned into our gravel driveway, Keno immediately went into full protection mode. He straddled the sidewalk, barking. As our friends started opening their car doors, Keno added a ferocious growl.
Keno’s bark had woken up my parents, but our guests weren't sure so the man started hollering my dad’s name: “Jimmie! Jimmie!” As my dad opened the front door, the friend yelled, “I think it’s a lion!”
It wouldn’t surprise me if, somewhere way up North, another canine was barking that night. This time, though, it would have been a wolf, fierce and hungry. The animal’s bark could have been directed at a hunter, whose kill the wolf was attempting to steal. It could have been a small bear or even another wolf. The growl and bark of this animal was not the righteous protection of his “own” territory, but the attempt to control what belonged to another.
I have been thinking about our dog Keno and that imaginary wolf for a while. Jealousy is one of our most powerful emotions. When it is used to protect that which we love, it can be very righteous and helpful. When it is used to control that which we want, it can be devastating…even deadly.
It’s that controlling type of jealousy that enters our conversation as we continue our Clean Slate series this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. When jealousy is ugly and selfish, it becomes the root of much violence. No wonder it keeps many from living in peace with others. I can’t wait to talk with you about it this weekend. Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!