26 October 2014

Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

A friend of mine recently wrote this, in answer to his dad's concerned question: "Which wolf are you feeding?" These two wolves are present in each and every one of us, and I loved the way he explained them both, and the opportunity to examine, in my own heart, which wolf I feed.

The first wolf in me wants the safety and comfort of belonging to the right club, the right social set, the right religion, and the right profession. It wants to believe that following the mainstream is the only safe path, and safety is most important. It prizes appearance over substance. It wants me to identify and follow great men, accepting their beliefs as authoritative and trustworthy. It wants to believe that there are men on the earth who would never be allowed to lead me astray. It wants me to pity people who don't follow those men, and who don't adhere to that true religion, and it wants me to be unable to fully empathize with their experiences. 
In that way, the first wolf wants me to see those people as less than me, or alien to me. It becomes threatened when people stop conforming to the standards of dress and behavior that serve as a shorthand for "in the group." Because it doesn't accept their full humanity, the first wolf won't let me fully love people who aren't like me. If it can apply a repulsive label to someone, it knows it will be that much easier for me to reject their ideas. Because it prizes the sense of security and safety it finds in following the right leader and belonging to the right institution, it wants me to shut my ears to truth which contradicts the false notions under-girding that sense of security. It trembles and rages if I listen to them, and doesn't like being contradicted. The same wolf wants me to rely on the security and comfort of man-made objects, buildings, economies, governments, and religions institutions. 
The second wolf knows there is only security in truth, and that ultimately it can only get that truth from God. When evaluating other's opinions, it values experience and sound reasoning over position and office. This wolf is more likely to make tentative conclusions based on ongoing learning than to take dogmatic positions based on tradition. It is never too proud to admit when it is wrong, and gratefully accepts correction. When it possesses pure knowledge, it lovingly attempts to persuade others. When it doesn't know, it doesn't need to be heard. 
This wolf is insatiably curious. It wants ugly and uncomfortable truth no less than beautiful and encouraging truth. It knows that both kinds of truth are faith-promoting. It is eager to identify and discard false traditions masquerading as truth. It is allergic to them, because they destroy faith before it can begin. It resists judging and condemning others for their perceived failings, because it knows that we all need forgiveness and grace equally. If someone says something false, it is not afraid to acknowledge that falsehood just because everyone else thinks that person couldn't be wrong. It knows the difference between speaking evil of someone and pointing out when they are mistaken. It thinks men are almost always self-important, silly, self-righteous, and vain, and he always reminds me that I am one of those men. 
I can confirm that both of those wolves are alive and well. I shared this blog post because it feeds the second and enrages the first. Of course, I could read the same article in a way that feeds the first wolf: confirming what I already believe to be true and allowing me to judge other people as ignorant and blinded by tradition. I am grateful for the reminder to always question my own motives.
Thank you, my friend, for your wisdom--and experience.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!