“You’re a good girl! Yes you are! You’re a good girl!” I said as I scratch Lola’s fuzzy white head. With her tail wagging so hard that her whole back end swayed back and forth, she lapped up the praise. She danced excitedly around waiting for me to continue. “Please show me more” she seemed to be saying.
I had just arrived home and there was Lola, at the door to greet me. She was always there waiting, just to show me how grateful she was for my arrival. Now finished greeting my still excited dog, I kicked off my shoes and thumbed through the mail. Bill, bill, bill, “always bills, doesn’t anyone write letters anymore” I thought to myself.
As my mind wandered back to a time when getting the mail was an enjoyable thing I caught a glimpse of Lola out of the corner of my eye. “What was she chewing on?” I thought as I turned to give it my full attention. My shoe! Not just any ordinary shoe that could be easily replaced. No, she had my brand new, expensive, once in a lifetime, sale find shoe. You know the kind, the bargain of the century, the kind that would be irreplaceable.
NOOOOOOOO, GET AWAY FROM THAT SHOE!!! I screamed at the top of my lungs. BAD DOG!!! BAD DOG!!!!! I scolded. “LOLA, YOU’RE A BAD DOG!” I said as I shook the now ruined shoe at her.
Crouching down as low to the floor as she could, Lola backed away. The shoe now chewed up and torn beyond repair, I was furious as I glared her way. Skulking away, she headed to bedroom to hide. Just before she turned the corner and was out of my line of sight, she turned back with one last glance my way. “Could I be your good girl again?” she seemed to be asking me.
As she turned back and slinked off, a thought crossed my mind. “Why is she considered a girl when she’s good and just a dog when she’s bad?” I knew instantly the thought was a message from within. But the next thought stopped me in my tracks, “What you are showing her is when she’s good, she is something special, but when she’s bad, she is nothing. Does she have to be good to be special in your eyes?”
What a question! Pondering this thought a little further made me realize something. Isn’t this often how we treat others? And more than that, I had to ask myself, had God ever treated me this way? Did I have to be good to be considered special in His eyes?
I had to admit, the answer was no. His only requirement of me was my acceptance of His son. It was my belief in Jesus that had made me acceptable to God. I was required to believe and accept Christ, two things that had nothing to do with anything I had done. In fact, in my own power, I could never be acceptable enough. It was Christ who had done all the work so I could be considered special in God’s eyes.
In my lifetime I had done many bad things that had broken God rules. In my own way, I had torn up God’s shoes before. Instead of condemnation though, I had received forgiveness and grace. He had lovingly corrected my bad behavior without judgment or character assassination. Somehow even in his discipline I knew that I had not lost His love. I was never made to feel less special, loved or important.
For me, a valuable lesson was learned that day. Lola no longer is just a dog when she has bad behavior. She is always my girl.
More importantly, it has changed the way I treat others. Giving grace has become much easier. Understanding everyone has flaws and expecting others to fail me at times, makes me more empathetic.
God is removing the character flaws in me one at a time. But I do need to ask just one thing from you. Could you be a little patient, because I can be a little slow?
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