Our little dog died last weekend. She’d been sick for a while, and we knew that something was very wrong with her, but I guess we were in a little bit of denial. She had been in our family for over 13 years. Our children, who have both moved out now, grew up with her. It was a very tough decision, but one that we knew we had to make.
I felt guilty when I got home from the vet. The last few years, as she’d gotten older, the dog had been more trouble than in earlier years. She’d begun to have more accidents, and she’d developed some tummy troubles. She couldn’t move as fast as before, and tended to get underfoot. During those same years, my life got busier. As the kids began to go their own way, I started working outside the home for the first time in Dottie’s little life, and she became needier. She literally got in my way a lot, probably wanting the same amount of attention I’d given her throughout her life in our home, but I was busy, and I got annoyed with her.
As I’ve reflected on these things, the Lord has shown me that my heart still lacks mercy. Over this last decade of pain, and sorrow over the losses related to it, I thought that I had developed a more merciful attitude. In some ways, maybe I have. But the Lord is showing me now that I have a long way to go. When I found out how sick my little dog was, my heart ached for the ways that I had been impatient and sometimes angry with her. While I didn’t know just how sick she was, my attitude and actions toward her show a heart that is self-centered and impatient.
As I have confessed all of this to the Lord, I have received His grace. It is because of His mercy that I don’t have to feel guilty about it. All of this brings me full circle, back to Jesus, who He is, and how very much I want to be like Him. I am so glad that he doesn’t get angry and impatient with me. Like my little canine companion, I am getting older and demanding more of my owner. I cry to him more, and depend on Him more than ever. But what I really want now is to be more like Him in the area of mercy. I want to look on the things and people that could frustrate me with compassion and mercy instead of impatience and frustration.
I will miss my little dog. She was with me through both of my surgeries and all the pain, anguish, and heartache in between. She loved me unconditionally, and was always there no matter what. She was the last of my “kids” to leave the nest, and our house is eerily quiet now. I’m tempted to feel sad, and to dwell on the loss, but if I truly want to imitate Christ, I will use this heartache as an opportunity to be with Him, to learn more of Him, and to grow more like Him. As I do those things, mercy will grow in my heart, compassion will thrive, and my forever Friend and Comforter will be glorified. Hallelujah! What a Savior!