It’s the Dog You Feed (Not the Dog You Kick)

. . .I have a red dog and a blue dog inside of me, the red dog is my addiction and the blue dog is my recovery – my goal is to keep the blue dog bigger than the red dog.  He explained that the only way to do this was by feeding the blue dog.  Hence my revelation:  I realized that I was trying to do this by fighting the red dog and keeping him small.  (Read more at A Beast Within)

I remember this old story, usually attributed to an unnamed “wise Native American elder,” as describing a black wolf and a white wolf, but red dog and blue dog certainly will do!  There is a passage in Ephesians which illustrates the nuts and bolts of this concept.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.   ~Ephesians 4:17-19

“Darkened in their understanding,” I assume, means they are not in the Word.  “Separated from the life of God” would mean separated from all the means of spiritual growth, some of which are prayer, fellowship with believers, service, and the Word. “Given themselves over to sensuality” clearly alludes to the very basic human nature of hedonism – doing whatever feels good, leading to wanting nothing but more of whatever feels good.   The people Paul describe here, my friends, are feeding the red dog.

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  ~Ephesians 4:20-24

These guys have brought the blue dog food to the party.  They have been taught the truth of Jesus (the Word), and they have also been taught to “put off [their] old sel[ves]” which were being “corrupted” by “deceitful desires.”

I am all too familiar with “deceitful desires!”  These are the things we want, which seem to feel good, and which sometimes can look quite virtuous at first glance.  Codependents are experts at this.  Our central unhealthy desire is to control all people and situations within our reach, but this desire is nothing if not “deceitful.”  This drive to control can masquerade as helping, serving, caring, self-discipline, unselfishness, and a whole host of other positive traits.  We fool ourselves, and often others, into thinking we’re being “good” when we are, in actuality, feeding that red dog.

This passage tells us how to “put off” that “old self,” by having a new “attitude of your minds.”  I read this to mean focusing on feeding the blue dog, rather than focusing on kicking the red dog.   In other words, rather than focusing on that old self we’re trying to put off, instead focusing on the things that will make our new self strong and functional.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.   ~Colossians 3:1-2

Practically, in my life, to set my mind “on things above” has meant talk to Father, listen for his answers, read and study the Bible, hang out with other Christian believers, serve others less fortunate than I, go to recovery meetings, call my sponsor, and work my steps.  When you look at that list, you’ll realize that it’s a pretty lengthy one.  Combined with the everyday responsibilities of life such as working and raising children, this list of “blue dog food” will keep me pretty busy.

Bottom line:  if I’m tempted to manipulate a situation to get my way, I ought to call my sponsor or go to a meeting instead.  If I’m feeling like losing my crackers on my kids, I should talk to Father or work my steps instead.  Instead of gritting my teeth and saying, “I have to stop, I have to stop, I have to stop” (trying to kick that red dog), it’s more effective to say, “I have to start” (feeding the blue dog).

I love comments!  Would you tell me about the dog you feed, and what you feed him?

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