This essay was taken from material originally developed for my memoir, “Masterpiece (A Love Story),” now on sale.
As a teenager, I was willful and self-indulgent and on a desperate search for meaning, which led me to seek many illicit things. I chose a path of self-destruction and was blind to my folly, like a lamb that gets its own ideas.
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All the neighbors were involved in the fun. Their fun, at my expense. The phone rings: ‘Your lamb is caught in the fence again.’ I am 12 miles away at work. The phone rings: ‘Your lamb is caught in the fence again.’ I make a call to see if someone else can make the trudge. Quickly, I have had enough of this lamb with the misshapen horns.
At first, I thought Dippity would somehow get smart and realize that when she sticks her head through the fence, her horns get caught every time. Yes, well this is a sheep we are talking about, and ovines are not known for their problem-solving ability.
More fool I.
I briefly considered the plastic Elizabethan collar I had in case I ever needed to treat an injured dog. Nope – too flimsy for a lamb. Then the household engineer remembered a friend’s brilliant idea involving a short length of PVC pipe and duct tape. Thus, the “Ovine Curb Feelers” were born. The firmly anchored PVC stretched horizontally from one horn to another, jutting out far enough on both sides to make fence-trapping impossible.
When Dippity was released with her new fashion accessory, it was clear she knew something was wrong. She shook her head. She ran in circles. She was immediately shunned by the rest of the ewes, lambs and yearlings. This is because sheep, remarkably, have an acute ability to remember faces. For example, every year after shearing, a newly-shorn ewe returns to the flock, only to be stared at by the others as though they had never seen her before: ‘Who in the world are YOU?’
So when Dippity appeared before the befuddled staring crowd, antennae akimbo, and began shaking, stamping, circling and spinning, the stampede was on. She ran to join them. They ran away. For comfort, she ran to her mother, Sera. Sera ran away. Dippity ran faster. Sera ran faster still.
Dippity stopped and started. The others danced away. She stopped, confused. Bobby the Guard Llama came over to investigate, bowing on his long neck for a closer look. Dippity shook her head as if to say ‘Stop staring at me, Bub’, and ran off to join the flock. They scattered again.
Eventually the flock got over it. As a bonus, Dippity was weaned in the bargain.
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God slapped an outsized accessory on me during an encounter with Him in 2003. I walked into this in great psychic pain. I walked away stone cold sober and eager to know more about this God who saved my life. The outsized accessory was His Spirit. It served the same purpose as the PVC pipe I put on that lamb. It brought an awareness that I was no longer my own master.
Dippity had no choice. I used mine to surrender. Oh, it wasn’t done happily, nor willingly, but it was done. God now had the ability to turn my head the way He wanted me to look, which then caused me to follow.
I had been told years before in driver’s education never to stare at an accident or a slow-moving vehicle, or a pedestrian on the side of the road – I will have a tendency to steer into it. Life is exactly like that. I turn aside toward the things I fill my vision with: an escapist lifestyle, my victimhood, the illusory pleasure of a pornographic image, that greener grass on the other side, or God Himself.
The day came when I was no longer fence-trapped. My days as a lost lamb ended. But not before the Shepherd came to find me and I let Him carry me home.
To read more about my journey, you can buy my memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story) in eBook and paperback.