Love...Free to Good Home
By: Mary Elder-Criss
Throwing the box bearing the words, “Free Puppies to Good Home,” in the backseat of the car, I slam the door, and crumple. I’m hurt and I’m mad. Nobody bothered to inform me it would be this hard. Angrily, I brush the tears back from my eyes, as I start the car, and quickly pull out of Wal-Mart’s parking lot, telling myself to stop being so stupid.
“You’re being ridiculous, Mary. You knew this moment was going to come, you certainly couldn’t keep all of them, for crying out loud. Besides, they are just puppies, anyhow. It’s not like it was your children that you up and abandoned by the side of the road. Now chin up, and stop your sniveling. After all, you kept two of them. You tried to find the best home for the other three that you could, and the children you gave them to sure had looks of joy on their faces, now didn’t they?”
As hard as I tried to talk myself out of my tears, they flowed nonstop, nonetheless. Arguing with myself inwardly, I told the “tough half” to just clam up.
“Yes, they were just puppies, but I had still come to love them over the six weeks since they were born. I watched them all grow and develop their own individual personalities. A deep fondness for each one had grown in my heart, regardless of how different they were. To just hand them over to complete strangers was so difficult. How do I know that they will care for them adequately? What if they don’t give them enough love or attention, or provide a caring home for them? So, don’t tell me to stop crying. I’ll cry if I want to. I’ll never see them again. I’ve earned the right.”
Obviously sensing my “tender half” was going to rise up and beat the tarnation out of my sensible side, the “tough half” wisely retreated, and I was left to weep freely all the way home.
It has been three days now since I loaded up the puppies and took them to Wal-Mart to give away, and I am still mourning their absence. I suppose time will heal this wound, just as it usually does all others, but the fact that the puppies now have new homes doesn’t lessen the love I still feel in my heart towards them, or make me worry about them any less.
It’s funny how devoted you can become to something or someone in such a short period of time. I never particularly wanted our dog to become pregnant, or have to deal with newborn puppies. I never intended to get attached to them, or thought I would cry for hours after I gave them away, or lie sleepless in bed, praying for their safety, and that their new families would give them the care they deserved. Regardless, that’s exactly what happened, and this experience got me to thinking about love, period.
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 1 through 8, we read Paul’s words regarding love. We can speak with the tongues of angels, but if we do not have love, we are a clanging cymbal. We may have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith, enough so that we could remove mountains, but if we do not have love, we are nothing. We could bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and give our bodies to be burned, but without love, it profits us nothing. Love, he reports, suffers long and is kind, it does not envy, it does not parade itself, it is not puffed up. It does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, and is not provoked. Love thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
It was easy to love those puppies, even when they got older, and were a little more troublesome, all five of them running in five different directions, and all of them seemingly under my feet. Anytime I would get aggravated with them, all I had to do was to look in their sweet little faces, and my heart would melt. Call me a pushover if you will, but it’s hard to remain angry when you are looking into puppy dog eyes.
Anything the puppies did to frustrate me, such as tearing a strip of sheetrock off my den’s wall, or chewing on my tennis shoes, I simply dismissed it as being part of their nature. Yet, when confronted with the individual sins of the human condition, I find myself a little more impatient.
I find I am not nearly so quick to love or forgive, as I should, according to Paul’s instructions. When confronted with rudeness or brashness, I often find my internal thermometer rising, instead of feeling love welling up inside. In the face of anger, I am often too easily provoked. When I come face to face with someone who keeps making the same poor choices, and is seemingly never going to change, I am often too quick to write them off as hopeless, instead of allowing love to hope.
Instead of remembering that it is their inborn sinful nature that I am dealing with, just as I dealt with the puppies, and reacting in love, I am too often quick to condemn, and slow to show mercy. Yet, if I remember to love, and to react in love, I am assured that it will endure all things. I can speak of love all I want, but if I do not show it, I am nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
My puppies are gone, and I most likely will never have another opportunity to shower them with affection. I pray that they indeed will live long and healthy, happy lives with their new families. I will think of them often with fondness, but most of all, I will remember what they unknowingly taught me. Regardless of our inborn nature, if we choose to love, it will bear all things, and will never fail. It is only then, when love is freely given, that it will indeed find a good home.
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