Thursday, January 26, 2006

Submission and Trust

Truth be told, I'm not keen on the term "submission." Here's Merriam-Webster's definition (parts 2 and 3):

Submission: :
2: the condition of being submissive , humble, or compliant
3: an act of submitting to the authority or control of another (Merriam-Webster on-line).

We Americans (ruggedly-individual-pull-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps-"but-we-have-our-rights" Americans) resist anything to do with humility, compliance, or yielding control.

Labs, thankfully, aren't like Americans in this regard. They're so eager to please, they willingly (well, maybe not-always-so-willingly) submit to us.

I'm glad they're so inclined. Especially when I think of the damage lack of submission (i.e., lack of humility or refusing to yield our "rights" for the sake of another) can bring in the human world: war; divorce; child-abuse; slavery; marital conflict; destructive relationships; etc.)

It's a me-first world today--one that's lost the ideals of sacrifice, service, duty, and honor. And it's my generation (the boomers) that have made it this way (let's own up here, boomer folks).

I wish we were more like Labs, who so willingly serve and do what we ask without complaint or a "what's in it for me" attitude. They serve us, and do so with great joy.

Why? Why are they so willing to abandon themselves for our sake?

Well, partly, of course, it's their nature to do so; they are Labs after all. And partly because then are not human (filled with self-centered ego).

But I think it may also have something to do with trust (isn't it interesting that our generation is the one that came up with "you can't trust anyone over 30").

Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge trust us. They know we have their good in mind. They intuitively understand that what we do is for their best.

Just two weeks ago Don accidentally cut Baxter's toenail too short (the last nail on the last of the three to be trimmed), and it bled. And bled. And bled. We had Baxter lie down; elevated his leg; put pressure on the bleed; applied clotting stuff to the nail tip; and yet we still ended up with half-a-roll of paper towels sopped in crimson blood stains.

Yet for all our flurry of activity, and for all Baxter's discomfort, he yielded. He stayed still, didn't fight us, and allowed us to do what needed to be done.

Imagine the chaos (and mess) if he hadn't.

But he could only do so because he trusted (and trusts) us.

Don and I have a marriage based on mutual submission. We don't fight for who's top dog; we don't squash each other to get our ways; we voluntarily and mutually seek the other's best. Do we sometimes disagree? Sure. But we work it through, trying to maintain humilty and with an eye to the others' need (not just our own).

And after 24 years, we're still best friends; we love each other deeply; we like each other; we appreciate each other; we look out for each other; and we trust each other without reservation.

Ah...there's that trust word again.

Trust is huge. Without trust, we can't have healthy relationships: in our families, with our friends, in the workplace, and even with our canines.

I've been asking myself this question lately: Am I trustworthy? Can I do more? What can I do to foster even deeper trust?

And am I willing to submit? Am I willing to yield my needs (e.g.: to get work done) for the sake of another's (e.g.: the dogs' need to get exercise and attention).

I'm in process. As we all are. But at least I'm asking the questions.

Are you?

'Til next time,


JuliaR said...

I like the concept of humility. Learning to be humble is a great lesson that too many people haven’t had (yet). I didn’t “get” humble for many years but once I had learned it, I became a better person. It’s too bad it is mixed up with the concept of “humiliation” but anyway.

As for the toenail, if it happens again, try some corn starch because it acts as an agent to coagulate the blood. (You get a pinch of corn starch between your thumb and forefinger and then press the powder against the bleeding toenail.) If you don’t have corn starch, flour will work although not as well. I got this tip from a veterinarian.

Joan said...

Thanks for the tip, Julia. We'll try corn starch next time. The blood clotting agent we used was part of a doggie first aid kit, but it didn't seem to work well.

And yes, sadly, humility is often linked with humiliation these day, and as you said, they aren't the same thing. True humility is liberating; it comes from a position of strength, not weakness. Being humble doesn't mean being a doormat; it just means being willing to set aside your needs for that of others.

Sounds like you have it down pat, girlfriend!

Blessings to you, and thanks again for the tip.