I came across the phrase “Fiercely Loyal” and I immediately thought of our dog, Griffin. Most dogs are known for their loyalty to their master, but our dog was what we considered to be fiercely loyal.
He used to sit on the back of our couch with the most intense gaze on our pear tree, watching the family of squirrels in anticipation of their next move. They would play a game of cat and mouse, as one would slowly creep down the trunk of the tree and Griffin would burst out the doggie door in a mad chase to defend the backyard.
Griffin was part of our family for over 15 years, and from the very beginning, he found his identity as the protector of our family. He was there as we raised our children, and he was with us as we watched them leave — one by one — for college. Last year, when his body was weak and in pain, he would still lay at my feet —ever the protector.
John Grogan, the author of Marley and Me, said this of his dog Marley:
A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. He taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart.
He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” (Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog)
Loyalty is a fairly straightforward word, attribute, and characteristic. We expect it from those we are closest to, but how often do we contemplate being fiercely loyal to our beliefs, values, and others.
Learning to understand what matters most in my life has helped me to develop greater loyalty. When I read the book, Choices that Change Lives by Hal Urban, I found a simple exercise in determining whether your priorities are in line with your values.
- List the top 10 most important things to you. Spend some time and be deliberate and thoughtful in making your list.
- Make a second list of the top 10 ways you spend your time. If it helps, calculate how much time you spend on each item.
- Go back to your first “most important things” list and write what you do each day to prove its importance.
Are you spending your time proving what is important to you or is there a contradiction between the two lists? This exercise helped me understand my governing values and discover adjustments I needed to make. It helped empowered me to stay on track.
One of the things that makes me who I am is the loyalty I have to people I hold close to my heart.”—Simone Elkeles
I believe our loyalties are determined by our hearts – what we value and feel a firm allegiance to. Sometimes it’s hard when we feel conflicted between two things we seem to value. Jeffrey R. Holland, religious leader, and American educator said: “Think of the heart as a figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our value; then consider Jesus’ declaration that in the last days “men’s hearts shall fail them.”
When what we say and what we do don’t match up we are living the definition of a hypocrite, showing evidence that our hearts or loyalties might be failing us. For example, if we profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but the way that we act during the week reflects something different we should probably question where our real loyalty lies.
It was some time ago when I was participating in a discussion at church about obedience when someone defined their obedience to God as loyalty. At first, the idea seemed a little foreign. Obedience is doing what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it. It’s compliance and submission, but is it really being loyal? And does it have anything to do with God?
As I sat and pondered the idea, I thought again of Griffin. He was obedient to his master. He sat when he was commanded to sit — not because he felt obligated to, but because of his faithful and unwavering love for us. Our Master does not demand the unreasonable of us — he simply wants us to come unto him and enfold ourselves in His love. He gives us commandments not to be mean or to make life hard, but to protect us and help us grow. To be fiercely loyal means standing up and being true to your values and beliefs, but it also means being humble enough to hear our Master’s call.
Take a minute today and consider what you’re doing to become fiercely loyal.
Do you need to make any adjustments?
Want to stay up to date with the latest from Choosing Wisdom? Sign up and receive my Ultimate Guide to Happiness.