My favorite scene in Lady and the Tramp is when Lady is given her breakfast from Jim Dear and Darling, her owners. Because they love her so much, Lady is given a saucer of coffee and a doughnut to eat.
This is a much better breakfast for dogs than, say, dog food or milkbone and a bowl of water.
I remember, as a kid, watching the doughnut change color in the coffee (from light brown to dark brown) and seeing how carefully Lady made sure that her doughnut was saturated before taking a bite.
This, I thought, is the proper way to consume both coffee and pastries. To this day, I always am looking for something to dunk in my coffee. Doughnuts taste better when eaten the way that Lady, Jim Dear, and Darling intended for them to be eaten.
Like the Lady and the Tramp doughnut-dunked-in-coffee, it is amazing how many times I do something out of habit,
thinking knowing it is the “right way to do things,” simply because I saw it done that way as a kid.
This can be anything from the simple and mundane (how I tie my shoes [poorly]) to the complex and deeply-embedded (how I express [or, more commonly, suppress] anger).
When I worked with college students, I remember telling people that I wasn’t sure how much control we had over our emotions. If it’s a gut reaction, you shouldn’t have to apologize for feeling a particular way. It’s out of your control. You can control how you respond and react to those gutteral feelings, but the feelings themselves are too deeply embedded to change or for you to be held responsible for. (If I ever told you this, I apologize, please read on.)
This last winter, I was listening to MaryKate Morse talk about spiritual formation. She talked about how we should be seeking to have our thinking (orthodoxy) and our doing (orthopraxy) transformed and changed, along with our feeling (orthopathy). This isn’t a completely new idea (you can google those three and find various sources that talk about them), but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it expressed in a way that actually hit home.
For me, hearing this and believing it for the first time, I felt a sense of hope that some of my deeply-embedded gutteral reactions are not permanent chains that I will be stuck with forever. To quote Dave Matthews, from the dark side we can see the glow of something bright.
Through the process of (for me, spiritual) growth, change, formation and maturation, there is hope to cast these habitual broken feelings aside, along with the broken ideas and broken habits that I’ve picked up along this journey, and put on a new set of emotional clothing.
This is good news.