Yesterday, September 15, marked the fifth anniversary of my adoption of Louie, my rescue pup. While it feels like just yesterday he pranced into my life, many times I feel as though he has been with me for a lifetime. We both have experienced many lessons along the way.
The most important lesson has been about love—about being a loving person, not seeing others as objects, and walking out the characteristics of love: patience, kindness, trustworthiness…
Hand in hand with love is the need for safety. Louie needed to believe I was safe. And very much like love, safety is tough to get your arms around. But I dare say everyone reading this and those in your circle of influence need to feel love and to feel safe.
Many times in the quietness of the night, I will hear Louie in his bed having some sort of dream. Not his usual running, playing and jumping dream. These are disturbing, as though he is scared and he is whining. I know he is still sleeping, but I will whisper, “Lou, it’s OK! Mama’s here!”
Now he may not know what I am saying but the very sound of my voice calms him, and he is able to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
While taking a long stroll and Louie prances along, he will look up at me and touch his mouth to my hand. I don’t profess to know what he is thinking, but I imagine it is his way of “holding hands” as we walk, just to be near and to know he is safe.
My oldest granddaughter, Evi, would be playing just a few feet from where I might have been working and rather than look up, she would call, “Nonna.” I learned after a few times that she didn’t want to show me anything, she didn’t really want anything in particular. She just wanted to know I was near which guaranteed her safety.
Many times I’ve thought of a very early childhood memory. I remember quietly walking into my parents’ bedroom while everyone in the home was fast asleep. Next to my mom’s side of the bed on the wooden floor was a little throw rug. I would lie down on the rug just to be close to her. Often my mom would turn on her side and her hand would drop over the edge of the bed. I took that as a sign it was time for us to hold hands, so I would reach up and hold her hand. Never mind that my father was a police officer and knew how to keep a community safe. Holding my mom’s hand brought immediate comfort and satisfied my need to feel safe. I cherish the memories of holding her hand as she grew older and it was my turn to make her feel safe.
Thinking through the many times I’ve kept Louie safe from harm gave me PAWS. How safe am I as a person? A leader? A friend? A parent? How safe are you? Are you someone that, when trouble arises, others know they can approach you and share from their heart without judgment or criticism or lessons? Is love your first response? Is listening with a sincere heart to really hear the other person your natural inclination? Perhaps not, but we can be intentional about how we listen. Being a safe person and providing an environment where others are able to be vulnerable and share from their heart takes discipline and wisdom. But we can all strive to be that safe person others need in times of crises and when life feels stuck.
Louie’s life has been transformed because I am a safe leader. My life has been transformed because safe people surround me. Be intentional this week to be that safe leader, and you will see lives impacted for the greater good.
Stay tuned for a very important announcement about our latest book, Love Like Louie…