I remember the moment I knew she'd reached the turning point. She did something wrong and I gave her a stern "No". Instead of fearfully slinking away, she walked to her crate, plopped down with with a "Hrmph" and then started muttering under her breath. I'm not sure what she was saying, but I think it was some sort of canine complaining.
Dora was also abandoned and abused. When she was delivered to my home, she had to be carried in, fighting to get away the entire trip down the sidewalk and up the front steps. She definitely had trust issues. With plenty of patient love and regular feedings, she eventually didn't distrust me. I use those words deliberately, because she didn't' trust me, either.
Just from her expressions (yes, dogs have them) I knew she was a dog that longed for affection; she was the type of dog that would love to cuddle.
I'm not ashamed to admit my dogs sleep with me (I owe the Peoria Pair another 14 Things). Once Dora collected enough courage to climb in bed with Grace and I, she laid on top of the blankets; yet, I sensed she was a "burrower". I knew she'd love to climb under a load of blankets and nestle beside me, if she could get past her fear. I think the reason she didn't though was because she was afraid of being trapped.
It took a long time, but I knew she'd successfully navigated a crossroads when she started climbing under the blankets. She trusted me to protect for her in case the boogie man came after her some night.
I see parallels between the dogs' relationship with me and my relationship with God. Like Grace, when I'm disciplined I slink back in fear. Like Dora, I crave the affection and cuddling He offers, but I don't trust Him enough to believe He will protect me; I think I have to take care of myself.
I love Grace and Dora and because of this love - MY love for them - I've seen them grow; I've seen their true, sweet personalities emerge and had the gift of their affection returned. As I observe their growth, I believe there is hope for me, because God's love for me is much greater than the love I can ever have for my dogs. There will be a time when I will not slink back in fear when disciplined. I'll be able to go about my life without looking over my shoulder planning how to defend myself against some attack, because I know my (very strong) Father is watching over me. I'll be able to rest peacefully in His embrace.
Until that time, however, I have to be content with the true hope that I'm making progress, slow as it may be.