We have a Boston Terrier named Babbs. Bless her heart, Babbs has issues. She’s very sensitive and suffers from separation anxiety. Though never aggressive, she’s jealous of our other dog, our two cats and even our goldfish. Despite her vet-prescribed anti-anxiety medication, Babbs is an emotional wreck.
Babbs also has a problem with snoring and could rock the Richter scale at a seven. If there were C-Pap machines for K-9’s, our girl would qualify. She even snores while awake and standing, though the problem is worse at night. She prefers human companionship at bedtime, but the snoring often results in her getting booted into the hallway. This hurts her feelings, triggers her separation anxiety and sometimes causes an “I’ll show them” temper tantrum in which she leaves us a “present.”
As if Babbs doesn’t have enough problems, she’s also what you might call a full-figured gal. Basically, she’s fat and on a continual, annoying search for food, overturning waste baskets, pulling out sofa cushions and staying underfoot in the kitchen in hopes of a crumb. Her weight also causes gastroenterological distress, and we’ve determined that she’s a huge gas ball with a permanent leak.
Recently, Babbs was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, which is contributing to her weight as well as her other problems. Now on medication for the Cushing’s, plus a new med for her nerves, Babbs is starting to show some improvement.
I know people who would’ve shown Babbs the door a long time ago. She’s a lot of trouble and one of the most expensive pets I’ve ever had--but she’s such a sweet girl who just wants to love and be loved. Knowing this, and discovering the underlying medical condition causing a lot of her issues, it’s hard for me to look upon this snorty, panicked, house-wrecking, present-leaving gas ball with anything except compassion.
I bet I’d feel differently if she wasn’t the sweet and affectionate girl that she is. What if she was cold, aggressive and downright mean?
This caused me to consider my attitude towards people. It’s easy for me to love nice people, even if they have issues—but it’s really hard to love the not-so-nice. Here’s the challenge with that: Christ says we ARE to love others. Not a suggestion, it’s a command. “’A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”(John 13: 34-35 NIV)
In 1 John 4:19-20, we read “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says ‘I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (NIV) Wow, strong words—ones that should make us learn how to love the unlovely. But--what do we do when we just can’t “feel the love”?
In “TouchPoints for Leaders “ published by Tyndale, love is described as a decision to value people with respect, compassion and courtesy because they’re created in God’s image—not because we feel they’re worthy of love. We find motivation to love in the character, promise and gift of God, not in the appeal of the other person. Such love is an act of spiritual maturity, based on the eternal significance of each person. (1)
We can realize that Jesus died for that unlovable person as much as He died for us, and we can choose to be Christ-like in our dealings with them. Reserving our love for the loveable doesn’t set us apart, as Jesus says in Matthew 5:46: “’If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.’” (The Message Bible)
We can also pray for them. Praying for the unlovable is one of the hardest things we’re called to do—but we are called to do it. (Matthew 5:43-45) There’s a reason why people become unlovable and they’re usually in pain--remembering this helps me take the first step in praying for them. Whether it yields change is between them and the Lord, but we’ll know we’re obeying Jesus’ command to show Christian love by praying for them.
If we find it hard to pray with sincerity—if we’d rather roll in an ant hill than pray for this person—we should confess it to the Lord. His Spirit will guide us and change our hearts. (John 16:13, Romans 5:5)
Now if He’d only change Babb’s snoring. Separation anxiety under control for the moment, she’s right at my feet, sounding off like a loose chain saw…
1.) TouchPoints for Leaders, God’s Answers For Your Daily Needs, Tyndale House Publishers, page 156
Loved your story of Babbs. Your comparisons were great. I have found that even when I get upset with people (rather used to) the quickest way to get rid of the anger or frustration is pray God's blessings on them. I learned this a number of years ago and now I am not very easily upset or angered. Jesus always loved the unlovely didn't he?
I really enjoy your writings.