Trippin Over Dogs
I have a confession to make. I’m not a dog fan.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that every dog I had as a kid became a hood ornament for coal trucks and other vehicles that quickly sped along our two-lane, curvy road in West Virginia. Maybe it’s due to the fact that, each time I carry in groceries, I have to shut the doors to my car after grabbing a few bags, all the while gently (notice I said gently, all you PETA people!) kicking yelping beagles off my heels and grocery bags. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I was charged with a misdemeanor once by our county’s animal control office years ago, back during the early years of both my marriage and my teaching career, because my husband had failed to hang the vaccine tags around the necks of his huntin’ dogs. (Yes, we eventually got that record expunged, but the fact that I was the one who bore the brunt of that citation simply because my husband wasn’t home at the time just rubbed me the wrong way AND placed another notch in my “why I do not like dogs” belt!) Maybe it’s due to the fact that, every time my son’s coon dogs hear Zumba music flowing from a window of my house, they all gather at that window and start baying like they’ve treed a prize-winning coon (And YES! I am offended! While it is true that my Latin dance moves may not quite be up to par with those of the perky instructors, and my salsa dance may look more like a slithering shuffle, and one may mistake my merengue for a misshapen miscreant, I still should be afforded the right to do Zumba in the privacy of my own home, without feeling like such an epic failure!) So no, I am most definitely not a fan of dogs.
There is one dog, however, who (as difficult as it is for me to admit) has stolen my heart. Her name is Lucy and she is a Maltese who weighs all of five pounds soaking wet. When my 17 year old (who was 16 at the time) begged for a Maltese for Christmas, adamantly declaring that she would be the happiest girl in the world if she could ONLY get a Maltese, I scoffed at the notion. After all, we have never been a “pure bred, lazy dog” kind of family. Oh sure, we have had a few pure breeds over the years who have been registered with the AKC (I always thought that stood for the All Kinds Club until I became an adult. As a kid, who cares if a dog is a pure breed? Pure breeds stick on the grills of coal trucks just the same as mutts!) But all of those dogs had worked to earn their rights to the papers. Like Scooby, a gray speckled blue heeler who refused to leave my daughter’s side when she played in the front yard as a toddler. Or Big Ben, a big, beautiful bloodhound who patiently traipsed through the woods with my then 9-year-old son, who had embarked on his first solo journey to his nanny’s house on foot. Or the numerous beagles we’ve had over the years, who have had a history of making deer drives much more fun and entertaining. No, Lucy is different. She is the first dog we’ve ever had that simply exists (and exists in the house, no less!).
Yesterday, as I came home from church (as usual, with my hands full of paraphernalia including Bibles, purses, grocery bags, etc.), I stumbled over Lucy, bringing my flip-flop clad foot right down on her tiny paw. (Yes, I often wear my Nike flip flops to church. Don’t judge me!) Gaging from the piercing yelp that emerged from her mouth, I knew that it had hurt her, so I proceeded to the kitchen table, where I planned to lay all my bags down so I could pick her up. Just as I reached the table, my phone rang, then my son hollered, then my husband asked me a question, and pretty soon, I had forgotten all about poor Lucy.
Later that evening, after a full day at the lake, we sat down to watch the cartoon Rio, and I felt a warm glob of fur near my feet and a wet sticky thing tickling my toes. Just as I was ready to start kicking (memories of a squirrel once finding his way into our bedroom flooding my memory), I looked down on the other end of the couch and there was Lucy, content as can be, just licking my toes and giving me her unadulterated affection. Me, the person who, just a few hours prior, had tripped over her, stepped on her, and hurt her. Me, the person who had completely forgotten to pick her up and check her paw. Me, the person who had forgotten to say she was sorry.
Lucy was showing me love, even though I was obviously undeserving of it. I had hurt her. I had allowed the things of life to get in the way of me checking on her. Through my negligence, I had shown her that everything else in my life was more important than her. As I lay there thinking about that, the parallel of how I often treat Christ became very clear to me. How often had I hurt Him with the way I had spoken to someone else? How often had I hurt Him with my decisions to watch or read something that I knew would be displeasing to Him? The answer is . . . A LOT. . . . too many times to even count. But just like Lucy, He’s always there. Tugging me. Showing His affection for me. Trying to get my attention. Loving me. Even when I ignore Him. Even when I hurt Him.
Paul reveals the depths of God’s love for us in Romans 8:38-39: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, with my measly little words through this measly little blog, I will attempt to give Christ the gratitude that I so often fail to give Him.