Tuesday, October 18, 2011
3:54 p.m. Today's project was to attend Bible study and lead my group. I actually had slept fairly well, but my eyes were still swollen from all the crying I did yesterday when our dog Bailey was hit by a car and killed. Our other lab Jada, woke up calmly enough after a lot of piteous whining and yelping for her friend yesterday afternoon and evening. So that was a relief, to have Steve let her out as usual this morning and get her back into her--now solo-- routine.
One reason I had cried so hard was that my older daughter Heidi had brought sympathy notes from her 3rd graders to comfort me in the loss of Bailey. Those letters were as sincere as if the kids had known us personally, and as if Bailey had been a dog they loved themselves. I especially loved the one huge drawing of a heart with these words centered on it:
IN LOVING MEOREY OF BAILEY
That's actually not too bad for a 1st quarter 3rd grader!
Over 40 friends of mine left kind, empathetic and loving comments on my Facebook wall. Through this incident, I saw love from all kinds of friends, all ages, believers and non-believers, with a mutual love for Steve and me, and heartfelt feelings of loss from dog lovers especially. As a person who has had dogs since I first picked out "Suki" at age 3, I know I'll always have a dog or two; they are just a part of life in my world. As for the next world, I don't see any scriptural indication of dogs making it into heaven, since those who will enjoy the privilege of seeing Jesus face-to-face are those who have trusted Him for salvation. The thought crossed my mind, though, because of one sympathy note that read:
"I hope your dog go to heaven and I hope she is alive." How sweet, with the pure sweetness of a hopeful child. Another child wrote, "Things are going to get better."
One thing I realized is that in a loss that anyone who has a dog can identify, that I was loved, and Steve also, for who we are, not for any ministry or acts of kindness we have done. I am loved!
It almost seems boastful, big-headed or self-centered to say that, except in the most intimate of family circumstances. Why? Because America is what is known as a meritocracy. You are recognized, promoted or even liked and loved, for the talent, training or education you have, for what you can "bring to the table." And we actually raise our children to fit this mold, to learn, excel, and achieve, to benefit themselves and society. This doesn't mean that we don't love them for themselves, of course, but I think that all children secretly suspect that they need to earn our love. It gets confusing, because we do need to earn our parents' approval with appropriate behavior and decent performance in our responsibilities at home and school. As parents, we need to love our children unconditionally! And where is the perfect parent who never slides into overemphasizing approval?
God our Heavenly Father is the only perfect parent. He loved the world full of sinful people so unconditionally that
...He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And we cannot allow ourselves to think that God must approve of our behavior and personalities before He can love us.
As children, we do seek our parents' approval, but what we NEED is their love. Hopefully, we received that love. But God loved us first, while we were hell-bound sinners. Romans 5:8 tells us,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And as we grow in returning that love through serving Him and others, God will one day say
to us, as the master said to his financially prudent servant (Matthew 25:21),
Enter into the joy of your Lord.
We are so loved!