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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Pets (09/13/04)

TITLE: Simple Lessons
By Billie Jo Youmans
09/19/04

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To my shame, I have been known to say all too frequently, “Who wanted these animals in the house?!” I grew up with many pets—all outside or in the barn. In fact, I thought I was a devout animal lover. The limitations of my love have been glaringly evident as I have sought to rise to the challenge of co-habitating with animals. My family graciously ignores my outbursts most of the time, and the offending animal scoots out of my path as I whine about the disruption it has caused. . It doesn’t take a whole lot to prompt my grumbling: muddy paw prints on a freshly mopped floor, the fourteenth request to ‘go out’ by our terrier with the peanut-sized bladder, one of our kleptomaniac cats stealing a chip from the bowl on the countertop or the pain of stepping on a dog bone in bare feet can elicit a complaint from this rather slow learner.

But learning I am. Not only am I learning the shallowness of my definition of love, I am learning what a tremendous example pets are for living as God designed. In my more reflective moments—when the house is clean and devoid of paw prints, when guests have been fed and departed, when I am sick and the pets gather around the couch watching over me…I recognize their contributions. As I watch the kittens play with abandon and sheer joy in one another’s presence, I see a model of joyful living. When the tiger cat curls up with our pug, I see friendship that is pure and heart-based. The purring of the cats as I bend to pick them up (often just to put them downstairs) reveals hope and acceptance often unseen in this world. The pets never doubt themselves or react from their own insecurities. They live and love out of their simplicity in a manner that humbles this introspective, self-examiner.

Most importantly, though, is how they reveal the self-centeredness of my ‘love.’ I’ve learned that sincere love embraces the loved one for their own distinctiveness—not for how the loved one makes me feel. It is the emptiness of my love that magnifies the love of my Creator. Our heavenly Father treasures the unique-ness of each one of us, and He longs for us to love one another as He does. I want to learn more about living out of the rich simplicity of His love, and I think our pesky pets are a tool He is using to re-shape my heart to be more like His. Who wants those animals in my house? I do.


Member Comments
Member Date
Teresa Lee Rainey09/20/04
I enjoyed reading and learning from your 'simple lessons' :^)
Angie Schulte09/20/04
As I was reading your story, I was struck with the differences animals make in the elderly as well as the disabled. Animals give such unbiased love. Thanks for sharing..
Marina Rojas09/20/04
This was a fun look at a fake grouch. I liked it!
darlene hight09/21/04
Great piece and great application!
L.M. Lee09/24/04
pets never doubt themselves or react from their own insecurities. They live and love out of their simplicity in a manner that humbles this introspective, self-examiner.

what a profound truth