Fourteen years ago…
our daughter in Georgia was in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend in Chicago. One weekend, when he was visiting, they toted a tiny Jack Russell puppy to our home in a cardboard box and announced they were going to share a dog together. Our daughter was to be the main caretaker while a full-time college student and working as a barista at Starbucks.
I remember my husband and I meeting with them on our screened in porch. Calmly, but firmly (maybe sternly), I remember telling them that getting a puppy was a crazy idea. My husband and I reviewed things like cost of dog food and vet care, and we spoke of the unfairness of a dog spending long hours alone in an apartment while our daughter went to school and worked.
They kept the dog.
Fast forward to this month, January of 2019. That little dog, named Baby, passed away at the ripe old age of 14 1/2 years old. You see, our daughter married that boyfriend, then they had two precious kids and became an amazing family, with great choice in pets, I might add.
Baby has been with them every step of the way.
A year before she died, when I was visiting them in Chicago, Baby was showing enough signs of old age that I knew it was the last time I was going to see her alive. I crouched by her dog bed, stroked her gray head, and sobbed while I said good-bye.
I knew right then I was going to someday write this post.
Under the watchful eye of my son-in-law who was in the room, I asked that dog’s forgiveness for the stern logic I had doled out to her parents after peering over a cardboard ledge and seeing her for the first time. I asked her forgiveness for using every ounce of persuasive ability I had at the time to talk her young parents out of keeping her. Turns out, she was a great dog and our entire family loved her.
Right there next to the dog bed, down low on the living room carpet, I was reminded that I know NOTHING about what God wants to do with people’s lives and what decisions each is to make. I must set people free so God can have His way with them. I have become increasingly committed to a principle I often choose to live by in my relationships with others. Unless I see something that is in direct violation of God’s Word — of which keeping Baby was not — people get to run their lives. If I am asked my opinion, I share freely, but not with an attitude that I know best. I don’t know God’s Story. I am simply never that good.
Truly, this dog is part of what God has used to keep me in my rightful place.
I am not God. I don’t know it all. And often, God’s ways are not logical and safe and controlled.
Baby has made me better. Though she is gone now, this story lives on. I lived it, and it changed me.
Good-bye, sweet girl.
Picture Explanation: Baby, and baby with her family over the years.
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