Our Oscar is one of the most particular dogs I know, especially when it comes to food. He had to try several dog food brands ranging from ridiculous to reasonable before he finally “agreed” to one.
My parents are raising his brother, Michael. He hasn’t met a treat he won’t eat—and if you don’t believe me, his tiny pot belly bears me out. But Oscar? Nope. While he never passes up bacon or a chunk of baked chicken, he turns up his wet little nose at almost everything else. Brown Sugar is sweet enough—translation, crazy patient—to coax him to take a t-bone still covered with bits of steak. She’ll hold it for him until he decides he has juuussst enough dog in him to take it. Don’t even think about giving him a rawhide.
So, trust me. When Maxine accuses Teddy in ’Til I Want No More of acting like a dog with a bone, my four-legged baby is the furthest thing from my mind. My “character” wears satin hair rollers to bed, keeps socks on her cold feet, and has a name that rhymes with Bobbin.
Unlike Oscar, my mind isn’t that picky about what it sinks its teeth into, and it doesn’t let go. Nobody has to convince me to take firm hold of a worrisome thought, a memory, or minutes-old anger. I may forget why I walked into the kitchen, but a snippet of twenty-year-old guilt? Never. It would take the strength of Samson to wrest that from my mental grip. I can chew on regret, a bad decision, or a hurt, savoring their bitter flavor like it was that steak Oscar couldn’t bring himself to eat. Just make mine a ribeye.
My novel’s mini-me is the same way. Maxine condemns herself for her past (and present) failures no matter what anybody else tells her to the contrary. No matter what the Lord tells her in His word, through her dreams, or during premarital counseling. She calls herself every name but a child of God, and she answers to them, too.
Maxine tends to focus on one issue, but I spread my fears thin, the way I butter my toast. Not only do I fret over what did happen, I obsess over what might happen and what could’ve happened (That car almost hit us! See why I don’t want Think Tank driving on this busy road? If that driver had pushed us into the shoulder, we would’ve been smushed by those trucks! Then who would teach English and do hair?). I worry good things (My new book’s coming out!) will turn into bad things (What if no one reads it, and if they do, they don’t like it?). I assume bad things will get worse (I got over the virus, but will it affect my lungs, my hair, our thinking…?). As if I don’t have enough going on over here, I take on your business and make it my business (Why won’t they…? Shouldn’t she be…? They don’t need to…). Then I worry about my worrying (Why isn’t my faith big enough? God must think I’m a hot mess.).
None of it tastes very good.
But Paul in Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” He doesn’t say “whatever things are possible, likely, practical, heartbreaking, or impossible” but urges us to cling to what is true, good, and honorable.
That’s the food my hungry soul craves, yummy fare prepared with grace and mercy. I need to stop gnawing on any old bone that occupies me for a moment, but ultimately, doesn’t satisfy.
For those bones are lies, scraps the enemy left me. And he didn’t even serve them on a plate; he left them scattered about the floor for me to wander in and happen across them. To sniff at and accept, believing leftovers were good enough.
They’re not. Not for Maxine nor for Oscar. Not for me. My tastes are more refined…more particular.
God has set a place for me, and when He invites me to dine, He calls me by name. Not the name my mama uses, or the one my friends call me or what my enemies whisper behind my back. Not even my married name. The name Father God gave me when I answered His call: Mine, He says. “You are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) The Lord feeds me all manner of good things—truth, love, light, goodness, fellowship, forgiveness—’til I want no more.
“For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107.9)
a long time comin’