But when I see them with rescued dogs I can't help but wonder how long it takes the dog to trust, to replace horrid memories with new memories of kindness and proper care.
I know that I am like that when I realize I have been doing things that harm me, things God has "forbidden" not because He is harsh or cruel or wants to "spoil our fun" but because those things harm us and those we love. So when we awake to the wrong behavior and begin to realize the danger that behavior poses to ourselves and to those we love, that is often not enough -- just realizing. We also have to act in new ways, to let God heal us to the point we can believe God is cheering for us and sending us blessings (wise friends, good books, movies with hope, songs that touch our heart, amazing sunrises at the beach and awe-inspiring sunsets behind grand mountains, and soothing walks in the woods, to name a few). Such things teach us to hope, to believe that we are not so far "gone" that God can't care about us.
Like that frightened, abused puppy we need a new life to replace the painful one we have experienced. To find a new way we need to talk to God (pray), study about God (read the Bible in a translation that speaks to your heart), find trustworthy friends in a church who serve honestly, and sometimes with little steps and sometimes with giant leaps we begin to replace fear with Love, anxiety with Trust, despair with Hope.
God has important plans for us, to reclaim for us what we were born to be, to love as we are loved by God, to show kindness toward others without expectation of getting anything in return. God has infinite patience with those who seek Him -- God loves you exactly as you are. This is the most excellent way of living.
St. Paul wrote, “I will show you the most excellent way.” - 1 Corinthians 12:31 (NIV)