Our dog Pearl is tiny, even for a miniature dachshund. Six pounds of muscle and spine. She has assumed the role of protector of our yard, which is frequented by all sorts of unsavory characters: armadillos, chipmunks, moles, squirrels. But mostly, deer. If we start to say, “Pearl, there’s a deer…” she is at the front door and ready. The problem is, now that the deer have become accustomed to her, they don’t even move when she races up to them, barking her miniature head off. They continue devouring our hosta, but with an added annoyed look. Sometimes they follow her back up to the house to see what else we’ve planted. But Pearl is not phased and she is not afraid.
Similarly, my husband used to “help” with driving cattle on the farm, even when he was little. He proudly donned an over-sized cowboy hat atop a Shetland pony, as his little Huskie-jeaned legs squeezed into her sides to get her up to “top” speed. The 700-pound cattle would look up from their grazing, swat flies with their tails, and stand their ground against the diminutive duo. Still, that little cowhand was not discouraged. More importantly, he was not afraid.
Sounds a little like David and Goliath, in a modern, less deadly kind of way. What made Pearl and my husband and David able to attack their “giants?” Something essential is that they had to decide to do it, to raise their hands, to saddle up that horse. But no reasonable adult/dog would have done that! The odds were too great, the challenge too insurmountable, the risk too real. Bravery perhaps? True, but I believe all genuine acts of bravery have something in common: being a little clueless. At best, not overthinking the situation. To put it simply, some naiveté was in order.
Just when we needed it most, God blessed my husband and I, realistic, logical people that we are, with a large life-saving dose of being naïve. When we felt the full brunt of my illness, God knew we’d need that naiveté to avoid rationalizing ourselves into oblivion. And it was a godsend to us in dealing with the giant we faced.
Deep down, I suppose we sensed the situation was serious. Not at first, of course. We left home on the morning of Black Friday, headed to the doctor for an antibiotic to get this illness under control so I could meet up with my girls later for some serious sale shopping. My husband jokingly said, “What do you think the chances are that we’ll be home by noon?” I scoffed. I may have missed the door busters, but I wasn’t going to miss the entire day, the rare opportunity to spend time with my daughters! But within a few hours I had a hospital band on my wrist and a chart near my bed that said “Heart Failure.” The doctor on call for the holiday weekend blurted out with my family in the room, “We’re doing everything we can to keep her alive. If things don’t turn around soon, we’re looking at a heart transplant.” Yes, things had certainly changed, in a hurry. A giant had entered the room.
Still, our naiveté persisted. We spent the first few days playing Bananagrams and watching Hunger Games with our grown children in the hospital room. The girls did my makeup and the nurse braided my hair because they wouldn’t let me off the defibrillator long enough to take a shower. My husband and I encouraged the nurses and slowly walked the halls, sure that we could fight this off and go home after the weekend. My daughter arranged for her high school choir to bring their Christmas concert to me in the hospital chapel. I was thrilled because I had purchased tickets for every show that would now be given to friends. As I sat in the wheelchair on the front row of that chapel, tears streamed down the faces of the young singers. I felt guilty that their sorrow seemed to eclipse my own.
The naiveté continued for months and months as we faced more information, and disappointment after disappointment. Against our nature, we allowed God to shield our eyes and ears from the harsh reality, and we continued on with our lives. It wasn’t always a happy cluelessness. Sometimes, we hunkered down. Sometimes we researched when we shouldn’t have. But usually, we naively stepped onto the battlefield with a few stones and a mission. God was about to use us in combat and, even without knowing the battle plans or length of service, we raised our hands.
When we can stop asking 1,000 obscure questions, googling for statistics, and pondering dozens of “what-if’s,” we become immeasurably more useful to God. When we can welcome our naïve not knowing, in this world of information overload, there is room in our brains and in our hearts to let God fill in the blanks. God doesn’t ask for ignorance. Far from it. He asks us to thoughtfully consider the options and choose to do life with Him. But then we need to let God be God. And let Him handle when and how that giant will fall.