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

TITLE: For Real
By Jan Grupido


My first pet was very complacent. It never ate. It never drank water. It never needed to be walked. It preferred to stay in the box under my bed amongst the milieu of other ‘portant things’ I cherished. Mom said it was ‘reeeedikulus’ for a 6 year old girl to keep a pet ‘anything’ under any bed. But that was ‘zactly’ where it should be so no one else bigger than my six year old self could fit under the bed and find it. I didn’t want to share.

When I was seven, and had grown up so very much more wise than six years old could ever hope to be, I made a very big decision. I would share the secret about my pet with my new best friend Mary Grace. Mary Grace and I were in my room. We were whispering and giggling and gliding on wings of friendship as I had never experienced before. It was then that I just knew I wanted to share my secret pet, because true friends share. I had learned that special truth somewhere between ‘silly’ six and ‘smart’ seven.

I placed the box on the bed and carefully removed the lid. I held it securely with both hands as I lifted it, presenting it to Mary Grace. She craned her neck a respectable distance in anticipation of a quicker view of the box’s precious contents. Her eyes grew large and her expression was one of great surprise, as I knew it would be. Then her eyes got all crinkly and her mouth opened and turned up at the edges. Then she giggled, out loud! ”That’s your pet!? That’s not a pet. That’s just a picture of a dog. That’s not for real!”

I looked at Mary Grace as if she had grown two heads. How could she say that? His little ears would perk up, listening as I spoke. I heard him whine in empathy as tears fell from my eyes over a hurt, still stinging, from mean words spoken to me on the playground. When I was six years old my dad had told me, “We don’t keep dogs in this house.” So the picture of the dog I had shown to my dad, and had asked him to buy for me, became my pet in the box under my bed, for real.

Years later living, breathing, flesh and blood dogs would be mine. I would feel real wet, slobbery kisses as I rolled on the floor playing with my dogs. I eventually knew the difference between furry balls of puppy wonderfulness and my pet dog, in the box under my bed. Yet, I will never forget Mary Grace and her eyes, and her face, and her giggles when she told me my pet wasn’t ‘for real.’ She had giggled even louder when I tearfully told her that someday, maybe, you will believe he’s real. The look in her eyes had pierced to the very heart of my little self. I experienced, for the very first time, genuine disbelief and pure mockery. These two things have not changed. They are the same today as when, at seven, I was first taught that harsh lesson by Mary Grace.

Forty years later, I see eyes with the same disdain in them greet me on a daily basis. I see mocking disbelief in eyes looking back at me from across a desk at work, or over the cash register in the grocery , or around the barbeque grill at a neighborhood block party. I hear snickers and giggles as people turn away shaking their heads. I feel the sting of words telling me, “That’s not for real. Are you crazy? How can you believe in Jesus? You’re going to be with Him!? Wake up! He’s not for real.”

And when it’s more than I can bear I take hold of the precious box that now sits on top of my desk. Holding it securely with both hands, I open the tapestry covered lid and take out my precious Bible. I look inside it and I read and hear Him speak to me. I cry and He cries with me. Then I pray that someday they will come to believe. I see Him there, in His word, and I feel His comfort and presence and I know He’s ‘for real.’

Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight09/20/04
Yep He's for real but we can't keep in a box under our bed or any other box for that matter. Good analogy!
Teresa Lee Rainey09/20/04
Yes, very good analogy. Not hidden in a box, but kept sacredly and shared just the same. :^)
Marina Rojas09/20/04
This was great. This was really great.

Melanie Kerr 09/22/04
I ma glad that Jesus is for real.
L.M. Lee09/24/04
what a beautiful illustration of learning to only care about what Jesus thinks and ignoring everything else.