My dogs think I am the greatest person in the world. While they adore my mom (“grandma”) and my best friend/roommate (“Aunt Sarah”), there’s only one person they call “Mommy” and that’s me. As I type, one of the little ones (Madalyne, two year-old shih tzu) is curled up in the covers of my bed. She’s staring at me ready to follow me should I arise from my chair and head into the kitchen, check the mail, or go to the bathroom. The other (Cassie, nine year-old peekapoo) is lying in the living room ready to fiercely bark at any intruder that might even think about trying to enter our apartment.
One such potential intruder is J.D., the one year-old lab that lives across the hallway. I’ve tried to explain to both dogs again and again that J.D. is not their enemy; he is merely going outside to do his doggie business. When I’m talking to them, they look interested in what I’m saying (Maddy tries to lick my face), but my words never seem to sink in. Sigh.
At night, I feel one little fur ball by my side and another at my ankles as they cuddle with me in my bed. On the darkest of nights, when sleep doesn’t come easily, their presence is a saving grace. As I lie awake, praying and talking to God, my two dogs are the only witnesses to the words uttered in the darkness. Not only are they privy to the sacred, they also watch me get dressed (and undressed), go to the bathroom, and so on. If they weren’t dogs, I would think they were perverts.
When I leave the apartment, they look at me with their big, sad eyes. It’s as if I’m crushing their little worlds, and sometimes it feels like a sucker punch in my gut. When I return, there is a canine celebration of jumping, licking, tail wagging, and toy tossing. Hooray! She is here! They run around in a frenzy for several minutes, even if I was only gone for a minute or two taking out the garbage or checking the mail. And it makes me feel worthy, wanted, and loved on the inside. I like being their hero.
It seems slightly egotistical to enjoy being the center of their universe. I like being needed, revered, and followed. I can say anything–anything at all–in a certain voice, and they’ll go nuts with unbridled joy. It can be the Pledge of Allegiance, one of my writings, or “What a good dog.” I also delight in my dogs–the way they play together, romp about the apartment looking for mischief, and how they interact with their world. It’s generally amusing and slightly innocent.
As much as I enjoy being fixated on by my dogs, I realize that there’s a God who delights in me. Of course, He doesn’t follow me around like a puppy and certainly doesn’t relate to me as though I am His pet. However, the adulation I experience from my dogs is a bit like the adulation I should give to God–I should constantly focus my attention towards Him. While my dogs do things that aren’t “Amy-centered” like chew on bones, eat their kibble, and bark incessantly at nothing, they are constantly aware of where I am at work and what I am doing. They live their lives around me, and when I’m not around, they know I’ll return. I’ve always returned before and I will return again.
Why, oh why, am I so prone to wander? I’m a lot more intelligent than my dogs, yet I am not constantly aware of where God is at work and at times, I don’t care what He’s doing in my life (or in the lives of others). I get bogged down with the worries of the world, my own personal failings, or the crisis of the week, and I lose sight of Him. I’ve built my life around my belief and trust in God, but when I can’t see Him, I’m not always confident He’ll “return”. He’s always been there, even when I can’t “see” or “feel” Him, but I lack faith.
You’d think a creature who greets another by smelling its butt wouldn’t have a lot to teach us about faith, especially since it lacks the brain power to even consider deep issues of theology. Yet as I gaze upon the little shih tzu sleeping on my bed, so confident I love her and will care for her, I feel a pang in my chest. There’s a little voice telling me that I am just as loved and can be just as confident in my Father’s provisions for my life. And I can wait just as rest just as peacefully in His grace.