One day, my son brought a gerbil home to live with us. We put it in a cage. Some time later, the gerbil escaped. For the next six months, the animal ran frightened and wild through the house. So did we—chasing it.
“There it is. Get it!” we’d scream, each time someone spotted the gerbil. I, or my son, would throw down whatever we were working on, race across the house, and lunge at the animal hoping to catch it.
I worried about it, even when we didn’t see it. “This isn’t right,” I’d think. “I can’t have a gerbil running loose in the house. We’ve got to catch it. We’ve got to do something.”
A small animal, the size of a mouse had the entire household in a tizzy.
One day, while sitting in the living room, I watched the animal scurry across the hallway. In a frenzy, I started to lunge at it, as I usually did, then I stopped myself.
No, I said. I’m all done. If that animal wants to live in the nooks and crannies of this house, I’m going to let it. I’m done worrying about it. I’m done chasing it. It’s an irregular circumstance, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be.
I let the gerbil run past without reacting. I felt slightly uncomfortable with my new reaction—not reacting—but I stuck to it anyway.
I got more comfortable with my new reaction—not reacting. Before long, I became downright peaceful with the situation. I had stopped fighting the gerbil. One afternoon, only weeks after I started practicing my new attitude, the gerbil ran by me, as it had so many times, and I barely glanced at it. The animal stopped in its tracks, turned around, and looked at me. I started to lunge at it. It started to run away. I relaxed.
“Fine,” I said. “Do what you want.” And I meant it.
One hour later, the gerbil came and stood by me, and waited. I gently picked it up and placed it in its cage, where it has lived happily ever since. The moral of the story? Don’t lunge at the gerbil. He’s already frightened, and chasing him just scares him more and makes us crazy.
Today, I will be comfortable with my new reaction—not reacting. I will feel at peace.
Quoted from the book Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie.
Find recovery resources at Hazelden.
Dr Sherry Baker Christian Counselor and Christian Life Coach
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13