A Tether of Trust


New puppy in the house.

And the yard.

And the street (once—but that’s one time too many).

This afternoon, I picked up Penny and carried her outside (those weight-lifting sessions at the high school are paying off dividends). I’m in the nervous she’s-going-to-[insert preferred descriptive word here]-in-the-house stage of dog ownership. So with any questionable behavior, I’m up and she’s out.

In this particular case, I grabbed a good book and waited in the swing as the pup bounced around, explored, and plopped down. I waited some more—after all bouncing, exploring, and plopping weren’t on my agenda. We were there to get down to business. Obviously Penny didn’t get the memo.

As I waited, I observed.

And I thought.

And I waited some more.

Nothing happened. Well, not the something I had hoped would happen.

But something else did happen.

Something less practical.

At least in the short run.

But a better something.

Over the long haul.

Penny explored her new world up to a point. She went as far as her tether of trust stretched. She’d travel several yards in one direction, look, see me, then turn and run off in another direction. In each of her short jaunts, she traveled as far as eye contact with me allowed.

I didn’t have to direct her. Her natural inclination kept her in close proximity to me. She trusted me. As long as she could see me, she romped, rolled, sniffed, and fought imaginary battles with butterflies.

Something clicked inside my head. A tether of trust doesn’t just happen between a dog and her master. It happens between us and the ONE. The stronger the tether of trust the greater the sense of security.

What happens when the tether of trust is strong? I observed the answer in an afternoon of watching and waiting for a puppy to do her business (which she never did, at least not under my observation).

Connection. Penny, even on our first day together, connected with me. Connection’s always an amazing thing when it happens. One moment, a strange man with a new puppy. The next, a master and his dog, a clear sense that one belongs with the other. The more Penny and I interacted throughout the afternoon, the more we connected—the more we belonged together.

Confidence. Once connection took place, identity established itself—I was hers, she was mine—and confidence grew.

Curiosity. This was the kicker for me. When Penny tested the tether of trust and found it secure, when she grew more confident of my presence (I was always there when she looked for me), then she could release her curiosity. She chased those mean old butterflies and scratched around in the dirt and checked out the neighbor’s irises. She explored the world around her as far as her tether of trust would stretch. That got longer and longer as the day advanced and our time together increased.

So how curious are you?

My guess is that you’re as curious as your tether of trust allows. The stronger your sense of identity in the ONE the longer your tether of trust. The longer your tether the greater your curiosity.

And curiosity?

Well, for me, I think it’s an essential part of the JOURNEY.

But then again,

That could just be me.

Question: So what do you think about the connection between trust and curiosity?

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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4 Responses to A Tether of Trust

  1. Great insight connection trust to curiosity. I agree, I think there is a strong connection between trust and curiosity. I thought of clinging toddler vs. exploring toddler. Part of it is personality, part of it is trust factor in love of one’s father. Thank you for some great thoughts to think through and apply.

    • tnealtarver says:

      You’re clinging vs. curious translates into the puppy world as well. When Ellen and I went to pick out a puppy, we chose the more curious female over the one which cringed when we entered the room. You offer a partial answer to a question that’s raised: How much of our response is already hardwired into our personalities?

  2. Jeff Goins says:

    I’ve certainly sensed this tension between faith and wonder. Here’s a thought: maybe curiosity can strengthen trust.

  3. tnealtarver says:

    Yesterday’s experience offered an image for this tension that I hadn’t even realized existed in me. I’m still reflecting on the nature of curiosity and whether it serves as an index to measure my trust. Your thought, curiosity strengthening trust, definitely makes sense. I’m thinking the whole thing through (yeah, like we can think the WHOLE thing through).

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