The Rev. Lakeya Stewart
Growing up in a small town, I saw just how special pets could be to families. My twin sister and I had a pet bird that we affectionately called “Tweety.” But, for some unknown reason the thought of having a dog as a pet scared me! I was gravely afraid of getting bit or, even worse, of dying from an altercation with a dog. (Yes, it was that bad!) As I have grown up, I have taken time to reflect on my past and the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today.
My sister and I recounted the time we were walking to school together and we realized that a dog had been following us there. Now, we had always been taught that dogs sensed fear, so we tried our hardest to remain calm. Instead of running, we began to walk very quickly with tears in our eyes to our elementary school.
Upon arrival at school, we called our loving grandmother and made arrangements with her to pick us up when the day ended. When we arrived home from school, the same dog that we had seen was lying down in our driveway. Now, as an adult, I understand that the dog was actually showing a very friendly nature. Even more that this good pet had only smelled his way back to the neighborhood he called home. Unfortunately, as a seven or eight year old child, my knowledge of dogs was limited at best. I somehow reasoned that not only this dog, but all brown and black mixed dogs were after me! Then there was another encounter with a dog that I had–that scared me to Jesus! But, that’s another story. So, all these issues with dogs had never been resolved—until recently.
Fast forward 20 years—iterally. I am happily married and my loving husband decides that he wants to have a pet. I was open to the idea of a pet until he exclaimed that he wanted a dog! A medium-large dog! (blank stare) A dog?!?!? I begged and I pleaded with him until I understood just how important having a dog was to him. Now, I may have had all bad experiences to feed my thoughts about it, but he had nothing but wonderful childhood experiences to share. So, how was I to cope with a dog that was to potentially live, sleep, eat and thrive in our home? I had to pray and even fast over this one! It was that bad!
We compromised on a puppy that I could grow with and we named him “Courage” because of the courage I would need to display to survive a black Lab/Spaniel in our peaceful home. In my personal prayer and reflection time I searched scriptures for comfort and for understanding. One that I came across was found in Psalm 27:1. The scripture in verse 1 said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.”
As a minister, I was hard on myself. How could I tell others that “God has not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7) yet be fearful myself? I felt like a hypocrite even though I try to understand that we are all a “work in progress.” I began to encourage myself.
As I sit now, with Courage at my feet, petting him periodically and embracing this daring idea more and more inwardly, I realize that we all have fears and imperfections. No one is exempt—from the pulpit to the door! Acknowledging our issues is the first step to overcoming that particular issue. Courage has given me courage. Scriptures have the power to speak to our situation even today. The Bible is still applicable. I am amazed at how the frightening image of a dog that once caused me great anxiety and fear has now become reality in the form of a protective dog that I can count on to alert me of impending danger. God is able to turn even our darkest nightmares and fears into moments of thanksgiving and peace. On this week, I challenge you to acknowledge that fear you try to avoid. What fear keeps you from enjoying what God has to offer you?
For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email at RevStewartSpeaks@outlook.com.
The Rev. Dr. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div., D.Min., ABD attended Berea College and the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies as well as the Master of Divinity Degree. Rev. Stewart is currently writing a dissertation on Toxic Leadership and Spiritual Abuse through Regent University.