I’m a dog person. I mean, I really like dogs. If I see you out with your canine, I will invariably ask if it’s alright if I pet him or her. Almost always, the answer is yes. That’s because, in my opinion, dog people understand one another.
I had yet another opportunity to meet a new to me dog the other day. I saw Brutus, taking up most of the corner of a waiting room, sitting with his human mom. Being a 165-pound Great Dane, you can see how he would take up space. I asked and was given permission to pet the gentle giant.
As dog owners, our conversation went along predictable lines as we shared stories of our beloved pets habits and activities. It was then the Brutus’ owner confided to me another common sentiment among those who love their dogs: she liked dogs better than most people.
I responded by telling her I understood how she felt but that I, being in the ministry and all, had to make sure I put people ahead of our furry friends. Whereas this usually changes the topic, this lady instead pressed me, “But don’t you sometimes like dogs better than people?”
I laughed off a response and then it was time for Brutus and his owner to go, leaving me to ponder her question about which I liked more. Anyone who knows me, or is familiar with my Facebook page knows that I adore our Goldendoodle, Violet.
In my eyes, she is the perfect dog: friendly to everyone with a ‘I want to please you’ style that is so endearing. Smart and playful, Violet is loved deeply.
But the lady’s question lingered. This usually means that something is going on in my brain or spirit that God wants to address. It didn’t take long to come into focus. For me, it’s not so much a question of liking one over the other. The sticky point is how much patience I have with dog v. human. Violet can have an accident or chew on another dish towel or eat the occasional jig-saw puzzle peace and I take it all in stride. Her good points outweigh these minor inconveniences to such an extent that these bumps in the road hardly register with me.
If only I could so easily extend grace to the world of humans around me. Personal slights or forgetting something important that I told you are nearly capital offences at times. The list of ‘how could you’ can get quite long. Not a ringing endorsement for a pastor, but it is an honest one.
Having identified an area that needed adjusting, God was just as quick to show me how to start. Praying, as I like to do on my long afternoon walks with the above-pictured Violet, God spoke quietly to my spirit. Basically, He reminded me that He loved me. So much so that He gave His one and only Son to die for the forgiveness of sins, mine included. His Spirit also reminded me that my very capacity to love comes from God and that I ought to access it more frequently.
Taking this to heart and putting into practice these last couple of days has been a joy. Allowing God’s grace to flow through me to others has re-opened my eyes and heart. These folks, all created by and loved as deeply by the same God who poured Himself out for me, deserve my patience and all the understanding I can muster.
Colossians 3:13 instructs me (and all of us) to: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV) I’ve been doing this all along with my four-legged friends, simply loving them for what they are. Applying this same criteria to the bi-peds around me is helping me to see them more clearly and compassionately for who they are as well.
Next time I’m asked which I like better, I’ll have a clearer answer! It’s not an ‘either or’ but rather a ‘yes and’ that works the best!
How about you: Dogs or people? And cat lovers too!
Blessings and thanks for reading,