Dog Training And Sinful Habits

I went walking my boxer dog this morning. Since she was a little pup I’ve been training her how to walk on a lead. When we train a dog out of walking improperly on a lead it takes a lot of time and patience. The beginning is the worst because the dog pulls on the leash. You find yourself implementing the technique you’ve studied over and over and it can take a good 20 minutes before you begin to see even a small amount of progress.

It’s been a year since I’ve been training her on the lead and while she’s very good at it, she still requires a good amount of correction. Every now and again she’ll step outside and test the boundaries. Although I’ve trained her to a pretty high degree in this area, she never quite kicks the habit of abandoning her position.

It’s the same with our sinful habits. One thing we need to always keep in mind is that we never quite kick the habit. In the beginning prayer and change can be quite difficult and many of us become like seeds who land on the rock. We spring up, but because there’s no root in us or determination it speedily devolves into nothing and we become worldly again.

Whenever someone comes to me with any kind of sinful problem of a habitual nature my first reaction is to advise them not to focus on eliminating the behaviour. Instead, it’s better to look at targeting the habit and reducing it to a bare minimum entrusting oneself to prayer and the grace of Jesus. What happens to most beginner dog trainers is that they get fed up with the technique because they think it’s not working. Either they abandon it altogether or exchange it for another. That is a very bad idea.

With prayer, many apply the prayerful rule they’re given, but not seeing any results abandon it altogether. Another habit we develop is one where we change the prayers up. One day we pray this and the next day we pray another type of prayer because we feel the former isn’t working. This is usually the problem of the person under of a spiritual master well accustomed to such beginner traits on the path to holiness.

When dog trainers abandon or change up the training they only make the dog worse and run the risk of causing themselves unnecessary frustration. I was watching an episode of Star Wars yesterday where Yoda scolds Luke Skywalker for abandoning his training so early. He schooled him on how Darth Vader chose the quick and easy path evidently being turned to the dark side.

If I show any slack in my dog’s training, she will be back to square one. If I abandon it she will be back to her old tricks or even end up worse off than before. If I change it up I also run the risk of the former becoming a reality. It’s no different from spiritual life. We need to keep a steady course and look at the path and not the peak of the mountain. To take the narrow path of suffering and not the easy one that leads to ruin is a better choice.

There is an important lesson to be learned that although the dog is trained the habit is never fully eliminated. Although we may have progressed over much toil and hardship to curb our bad habits, they’re always lurking in the dark somewhere ready to make an appearance should we abandon “The Way”. Take up your cross and walk with it. . . slowly. . . and eventually you’ll reach the Hill of Golgotha where you finally get to crucify the entire world within you to the Cross.

Meditate on the words of Saint Paul: “You began your race well: who made you less anxious to obey the truth?” Galations:5:7

Happy Sunday! Take time out today to walk your own dog, and ponder on what I’ve said.
God bless.

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