Growing up I always wanted a dog. When I went to vet school most of my friends had pets with them. I had a horse that I couldn’t take with me. Living in a new city that was a two days drive from home in an empty apartment was one of the many things that made year one of vet school difficult. I kept searching for the perfect dog for me – there was a long list of attributes with which I won’t bore you. I’ve never been one to do things on a whim though and adopting my first dog while I was in vet school did not seem very practical. Then my sister got married. I was happy for her. But my loneliness just got exacerbated. I was tired of hanging out by myself most of the time. I was tired of having no one to come home to. I was tired of not having someone who thought I was the best thing in the world. And maybe your reading this and thinking this sounds crazy. It’s hard to describe the feelings that those of us who are single experience. Or your thinking the thought that often crosses my mind – if I was a good Christian shouldn’t God satisfy my loneliness? And I believe that yes we should be looking to God to fill that since He is the only one who can satisfy us and never let us down and if He does not have the proper place we put a burden on those around us they were never meant to handle. But God also said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone and created both a human partner for him as well as animals to befriend.
Anyway to continue my story – I went to the shelter a week after my sister’s wedding to “look” at the dogs (insert skeptical laugh). I had seen a black lab on the shelter’s website, and decided to find her first. I couldn’t get away – she kept sticking her paw through the door of her run. She was not the dog I was supposed to get. She had been at the pound for a week before being taken to the shelter, so nothing was known about her (so much for my long list). But I couldn’t leave her there.
The first year or so was a huge learning curve. Several times I wondered why I hadn’t been logical and made sure to adopt a dog that fit my list. But as time went on I saw how God had chosen the perfect dog for me at the perfect time.
First of all there were the things I hadn’t thought about putting on my list. For example: the dog must like long car rides. Some of my friends’ dogs get nauseous or terrified in the car. Not my girl – she will sleep the day away. Which is a good thing when home is a 16 hour drive away.
Secondly, one of the most important attributes to me in a dog was loyalty. I wanted a dog that loved me, that wanted to be with me. That attribute is a little hard to search for in a shelter because loyalty takes time to develop. My girl adores me and I have no idea why. I messed so many things up that first year. I’m gone a lot with school. I’m always tripping over her or accidentally dropping things on her (I’m not the most graceful person). And yet she is always excited to see me. She will go anywhere with me. She mopes when I can’t take her with me on trips.
Thirdly, I have stories with her that make great theological object lessons. I think the best one is when I gave her a cow’s hoof chew toy. She went to town on it and thought it was one of the best things in the world. I noticed though that she was breaking splinters off and I was worried that she would get a piece stuck in her throat, so I went to take it away from her. She got upset and grabbed my hand with her teeth (not enough to break skin thankfully). Then I got upset until I realized that that was exactly what I had been doing to God lately. I had felt like God was taking away my favorite things, and I kept trying to keep a hand on them and pull them back towards me. I, like my dog, couldn’t see how taking away this thing could be protective or for my good in any way. I couldn’t understand why my dog didn’t trust me to know what was good for her and yet I don’t trust God to know what is good for me.
So we finally got to trust. I find that my dog is one of the hardest things for me to trust God with. I have spent hours worrying that something would happen to her. Not that the worrying does any good – it just sucks the joy out of the time I do have with her. So why do I do it? I wish worrying were an easy thing to stop.
I know that God knows that I need her. I wouldn’t still be here today if I didn’t have her. There have been days that have been so hard that if I didn’t have her jumping on me at the door, licking my face, excited for a walk and a snuggle I would have called it quits. Thinking about her waiting for me and me having chosen not to come back to her is enough to turn my dark thoughts around.
Yet sadly I know she will not live forever. Accidents happen. Sickness happens. Old age happens. And so in order to quit worrying about losing her I have to trust that God will allow me to have her until He knows that I don’t need her anymore. And by that I don’t mean that I will ever not want her. God gives us gifts to help us bring Him glory in this world and help others, and I have to trust that He knows the timing of when I need my girl to carry out His plan.
But it’s really hard. Especially this week when she developed bloat that could end up in a twisted stomach and I thought I was going to lose her. Especially this week before my first Christmas spent away from home.
But I don’t want to spend the time I have with my sidekick weighted down with worry, so I have to trust that God knows things that I don’t know and his timing and plan is always perfect even if it feels like crud at the time.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. ” – Romans 8:28
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5 – 6
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” – Psalm 28:7