One late afternoon last week I walked out my front door with my running shoes tied up; my fitbit attached to my side and my phone GPS on so I could track my mileage and time. I used to do it to see how ‘fast’ I could run 3 miles, but now I just do it to log the mileage so at the end of the year I can see how many cardio miles I had logged .
The road was busy as usual and I questioned myself again, whether or not I should find a different route. But as I turned onto one of the side streets, I felt that I would be okay and I didn’t need to keep looking over my shoulder for fast drivers. I don’t jog with any kind of music; I have to listen to the stride of my feet hitting the pavement and the rhythm of my breathing. This helps me focus on what I am trying to do. After I get into a good comfortable rhythm I allow my mind to think of other things. Sometimes its praying, sometimes it is working through something that has been heavy on my heart or sometimes it is just imagining heaven.
I can usually block out the normal noises that one would hear jogging in the late afternoon; kids playing, a chain saw chewing its way through a log, or dogs barking in the far off distant. However, as I was in my mental haven an annoying noise started creep in and it pulled me into a conscious state of mind. “What is that noise?!” I thought to myself. The sound got louder as I continued down the street, and I started to look in the neighborhood yards for the source. All of the sudden something moved in the tree ahead, I slowed my pace down as I got closer to see if this small creature was the guilty one for all the noise. Sure enough a squirrel started to chatter this indescribable racket 4 times, then I heard a dog bark 4 times, then again the squirrel- the rhythm was the same, and the tone was the same. Well, it was a squirrel, and a dog, so it wasn’t exactly the same. But it was 3 barks or chatters at the same pitch then 1 higher pitched bark or chat.
I really hope this is making sense to you- imagine a dog barking, an annoying bark just to make noise. Not to say, hey danger someone is approaching, or hi, I am glad you are home. It is just an annoying bark.
I stood there for a moment and laughed at the squirrel and asked him; are you trying to sound like that dog? I chuckled to myself, shook my head and began to jog again. Once I got my breathing in sync with my strides- my thoughts went back to what I had just witnessed, a squirrel mimicking a dog, two different animals entirely. Then I thought; I wonder how long that squirrel has lived next to that dog listening to him bark? Does a squirrel normally sound like that or did he pick up a bad habit?
I then thought of myself, how I too sometimes start to mimic the people around me. I usually try to have a happy disposition and look at the positive in every work environment that I’ve been in. But truthfully I have been guilty of sounding like the noise around me. There is always someone in any group that will see the pitcher half empty, and point out the negative in every situation. That type of person can pull the most positive person down. And I confess, after listening to someone like that day in and day out, I too can start to have negative words come out of my mouth. Like that squirrel in the tree I started to mimic what was around me.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
So next time you are around an annoying person ‘barking’ don’t pick up their bad habits. Focus your thoughts on Him who sits on the throne, and may your words be pleasing to Him and not just annoying chatter.