My wife and I have always had dachshunds in our home. We have raised them with our children, and some might say we raised them like our children! About 35 years ago, we lived in a house with huge oak trees in the backyard. Our yard was home to a lot of squirrels and our dogs loved to chase those squirrels. Every day when I would get home from work, our dogs would greet me, dancing and jumping around my feet. Which is cute, however, one of them dribbled as he danced. Which is not so cute, because he danced a lot. To avoid this situation, when I would get home, I would immediately say, “Go get the squirrel!” Those dogs’ ears would perk up and they would fly out the doggie door, burst into the backyard barking, looking for squirrels to chase. It didn’t take long for the dogs to make a habit out of chasing squirrels as soon as I walked in the door, even without any prompting from me. I would walk in and before I could put down my briefcase – off they would go!
It’s been more than 30 years since we moved away from that house and none of our other houses have ever had any trees in the backyard. Two generations of our faithful little fur-babies have come and gone. When I get home from work today and open the door, I will be greeted by the two little doxies we have now. They will come up to me, wag their tails for a few seconds and then they burst out the doggie door into the backyard barking like crazy trying to chase squirrels. But the thing is, these dogs have never even seen a squirrel. We don’t have any squirrels in our yard, we don’t even have any trees! But they do it because that’s what dogs in our house have always done.
I said all that to say this, one of the greatest opportunities for personal development lies in recognizing and assessing our patterns of behavior. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything; and hold fast what is good.
It is good to reflect and ask ourselves if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes adding value. If they are, then let’s repeat them. Let’s hold fast to what is good. But if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes aren’t adding value, if they are detrimental to our wellbeing and our relationships, then maybe it’s time to make some changes and stop chasing squirrels.