“What’s on your mind, Floey? You’ve been staring off into space for a long time,” I asked.
“Oh, hi, Mom. I didn’t notice you come into the room. I’ve been thinking about tonight.”
“Oh, yeah. Tonight’s your big night. You’re going to see all your litter mates again for the first time since your adoptions. I bet you’re excited.”
“In some ways, I am. I can hardly wait to see them. All six of us will be together again for the first time in over a year. But I’m sure we’ve all changed a lot. I know I have. What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me? We all played together the first six months of our lives, but then we were moved away from the Indian reservation in northern Minnesota where they wanted to shoot us, and a rescue group brought us to Wisconsin to find new homes. Over the next few months we all went our separate ways. What if one of my brothers or sisters has turned into a really mean dog? I don’t want to play with any mean dog, even if he or she is a sibling.”
“Wait a minute, Floey. You mean to tell me that you will stop loving one or more of your siblings if you don’t approve of the way they act tonight?”
“I guess so, but only if they deserve it, Mom. If they growl and snap at me, and act like an enemy, I’ll be very disappointed, but I won’t play with them. With five litter mates, I’m sure I’ll find someone else who’s nicer to play with.”
“Oh, Floey, don’t worry about this. I bet they’ll all be nice dogs. I’m sure they were all adorable pups just like you when they were chosen to be adopted. You’ll have a great time playing together again tonight.”
“I hope so, Mom. I think you’re probably right, but I’m a little worried anyway. What if …”
“Floey, since you have a nagging little concern about the ‘what if’ possibilities, I think I need to tell you about what I read in Jimmy Carter’s devotional book this morning. He referenced Matthew 5. Here are the verses he referred to from THE MESSAGE version. Jesus said:
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. …
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
[Excerpts from Matthew 5:38-48]
Jimmy Carter went on to explain, “The command to ‘love your enemy’ is both startling and unique to the Christian faith; no other religion has a parallel teaching… Christ commanded [us to have] … a self-sacrificial love for other human beings [and dogs], even for those who may never love you back or who may not seem lovable.” [“Through the Year with Jimmy Carter”]
“Mom, does that really mean that if one of my siblings has turned into a mean dog, that I need to pray for him?”
“Yes, Floey. I think it means that you need to pray for him, and play with him, too – be nice to him, kind of like Jesus said to give him a present of your best coat.”
“Wow! That might be hard. What if he bites me, or grabs my collar and drags me?”
“Well, that probably won’t happen. Remember, your litter mates are probably all just as nice and fun-loving as you. But if one of them is overwhelmed with all the excitement, remember that Mim and I, and all the other adopters, will be there, too, and we’ll see that no one gets hurt. For all of us, our dogs are our best friends, and we’ll take care of all of you. Oh, and most important, God will be there, too! Your Mama Dog will probably be standing right next to God, the two of them watching all of you playing together.”
“OK. I’ll stop worrying, and just be excited about our first reunion, 6:30 tonight at the dog park. Are you going to bring special treats for me and all my new/old buddies?”