I grew up with a beagle named Tab. He was a typical beagle. That means a lot of things for those of us who have been beagle owners. In my case, Tab was a barking, bellowing rabbit chasing escape artist. If he saw a unattended door he would bolt out of it, and he would be gone for hours. You could hear him bellowing throughout the fields behind our house, and every once in a while you would see the flick of the white tip of his tail as he tracked something. When he returned he always smelled like something dead.
I came home from school one day to see Tab staggering around the yard with a milk cartoon stuck on his head. Who knows how long he had been like that, but there he was stumbling around like an intoxicated teenager after the prom. He was always good for a belly laugh. He was a great dog, and he was deeply loved by our family. He actually lived to the ripe old age of 18, and we enjoyed every year.
One day, when I came home from work I realized that Tab had been put on a
chain in the back yard. He was notorious for getting into the kitchen trash when we were away. Sometimes, he spent pretty days in the yard. We lived in a neighborhood with few fences and strict dog containment rules. So, if he was outside it meant a chain at his dog house. He didn’t seem to mind, and it kept him safe while we were gone.
This particular day he was standing in a hole he had dug, and he was barking. He was about seventeen by then, and he had gotten a little feeble. There he stood, barking. That wasn’t unusual for Tab. If he was outside he was often barking, but this day was different. His bark had a real distressed sound to it.
As I observed the scene, I noticed that he had gotten his chain caught on a small twig behind him. Each time he tried to move forward the pull of the twig kept him from going very far. He kept looking at the hole, and then I realized something. He thought he was stuck in the hole. The reality was something behind him was keeping him from going forward.
Isn’t that true of us. We’re struggling, and it seems like we’re in a hole. It seems like the hole has made us prisoners, and it’s going to keep us prisoners forever. Tab’s hole was only about 4-6 inches deep. Under normal conditions he would have easily walked right out of it. But, on that day, it looked huge. What Tab didn’t realize was that something behind him was keeping him from moving forward.
What is keeping you from moving forward? It might not be the situation you’re in at all. It might be something behind you. Maybe it’s a relationship that needs healing. Maybe it’s an apology that was never offered or never received. Maybe it’s forgiveness that was never extended or maybe never requested. Maybe it is a questionable action that needs to be corrected. Maybe the source of your struggle isn’t what you can see at all. Maybe it’s something behind you.