Dialogue brings healing

The world is full of people hungering to be heard and understood.

It seeks communication that builds bridges, strives to understand, perceives the heart of the matter, focuses on reconciliation, unites and loves more.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in interfaith work this year. This helpful document (see below), created by Mark Gerzon and Rachel Kessler, highlights the distinct roles of dialogue and debate in discourse.

Have you ever debated with someone — like a family member, colleague, or even in comments on a blog post — when you really meant to be in dialogue with them? I have.

Sometimes I ended up trying to “win” a conversation, when what I really wanted was a conscientious conversation that healed the heart and respectfully acknowledged all sides of an issue.

Sometimes I get swept up in debate when I know dialogue will really help find solutions and bring healing.

We constantly need to be reminded of communication skills necessary for fostering respectful discussions of ideas.

We share something in common with everyone even though we are unique. We are blessed by getting to know one another and engaging in constructive dialogue.

God’s individual care: spiritual lessons from dog training

This week I’ve been thinking about how individual God’s care is – specific for every need.  

Christ Jesus shares this metaphor:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” (NIV, Luke 15:4-6)

This week, my husband and I have been working on dog training. I’m so grateful for Judy Moore’s training method called “Dialogue”. Reading her book and studying her training method has shown me yet another example of God’s individual love and care. 

“The real purpose of dog training ought to be to make the dog’s instincts, not so much the dog himself, submissive to human authority. What I mean by that is, in simple terms, the goal of training should be to enable the dog to override his instincts with response to his owner. Luckily for us, dogs have one instinct which they can safely obey and which we can use to help us to achieve this goal. This one instinct is the dog’s overriding natural desire to communicate with humans.” (Dogs Deserve Dialogue, p. 22)

Judy teaches that dogs can live in approval and praise, and not punishment; dogs do this by asking question the question “what should I do right now?” before everything they do and getting the right answers from his human parents which they always deliver; this builds the dog’s confidence and self-esteem, and reveals who the dog really is – one who naturally wanting to be obedient and a good dog. 

Isn’t this symbolic of our relationship with God? God is always praising us and giving us confidence in our ability to succeed. He would never punish us because fear is an element of punishment and could never be a factor in an all-loving and trusting relationship.

Have you ever been corrected by someone in such a gentle, loving way that it showed you how silly your mistake was and how you could easily and joyfully do better? I have! What a privilege it is to be corrected in this way without any loss to your self-confidence or self-esteem.  In just the same way, God corrects us when we don’t do the right thing but this correction is always coming from His loving nature and never costs our self-respect; He encourage and nurtures us. 

Judy also points out that there are no bad dogs or stupid dogs. If this seems to be the case it simply shows that the dog is obeying his instincts that have often been bred for centuries.  All dogs are bred for a purpose and this purpose may involve more human interaction or less (this is what we perceive as a smart or less smart dog).  Each one has a love for human companionship and is able to establish this communication with their owner that won’t diminish their natural instinct or skill, but rather enhances and provides them with safety and confidence in a human world.  

This reminds me of this passage from the Bible about God: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Each of us has the individual voice of God (which can also be thought of as the Christ) within us showing us the way. This voice reveals how very special we are; how talented, loved and cherished we are; how our unique individuality has been made specially as a light of God.  

We, too, can cultivate the mental discipline of yielding and asking God first before we do each thing. He is always showing us the way and causing us to prosper. 

And here’s a fun song/video for the dog-lovers to enjoy: