I love my dogs. Between the two of them, they weigh about one hundred and thirty-five pounds. For some reason, they think they are small creatures who love to get underfoot. I have repeatedly yelled out their names as I trip over a body and crash to the floor. And there they are, licking my face and forgiving me for hurting them in my uncoordinated fall and words of anger.
I can’t think of any creature on earth who demonstrates such unconditional love. Our dogs do not care about a person’s gender, color, religion, or creed. All they know is when they come in contact with a human being; they wag their tails discovering a new best friend. As a human race, we can learn a lot from man’s best friend about how to treat one another.
God made us unique and diverse. How boring would mankind be if we all looked, talked, thought, and acted alike? I think the enemy wants to use our differences to divide us, from each other and God. Why can’t we embrace our differences and find common ground? We all look vastly different on the outside, but if you opened us up, you would see we all bleed red.
We all share similar behaviors and traits known as a commonality. First, we all sin. Whether you believe in God or not, sin is part of our world, and we all partake in our fair share. Second, we all have a family. It may not be a traditional family, but it is our inner circle where we can let our guard down and share, confide, laugh, and cry. Lastly, we have physical, mental, and spiritual needs.
My heart is so saddened by the polarizing of groups in our country. Whether it is political, racial, or social commentary, I wonder what I can do to make a difference. I have prayed about this and God has revealed three actions for me to focus my attention.
Change-There will always be those who I disagree with on a variety of topics. It is not for me to change them to think as I do; I need to change. I need to recognize our differences and respect those who don’t see the world as I do. I need to recognize we are all children of God and to accept and extend grace to those who do not concur with my beliefs. A perfect example is the use of social media. I try and screen carefully items I would put out there in internet land and resist from responding publicly to friends or family who state thoughts which are different from mine. I need to treat others and their opinions with respect as I would like to be treated when expressing my views. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”-Psalm 139:23-24*
Cherish-I need to be thankful for my life and the people who are in it. Life is too short to be mad and waste time on petty issues. There are family members and friends who I need to reach out, forgive, and extend the olive branch. It will not be easy, and it may not go according to my plan, but I know God would want me to make an attempt and try and bridge the chasms created by anger and pride. I know there can be toxic relationships and I find myself praying for guidance and direction from Him. If God nudges me to focus on mending the damage, then I know this is a relationship I need to embrace and nurture. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”-Colossians 3:13*
Challenge-God has asked me to step out of my comfort zone and volunteer and minister to those who are not like me. Feeding the homeless has been a wake-up call to me and how I viewed people. It was easy to sit in my comfortable air-conditioned house with a belly full of food and pass judgment on those who lived on the streets. In my mind, they were addicts who threw it all away to get their next fix. My opinions have changed drastically since feeding the homeless and learning about them as individuals. Yes, there is addiction and mental illness, but they are people, who have stories, and want to be heard. They are so appreciative of the meals we bring, along with clothing, books, bibles, glasses, and toiletries. God has opened my eyes and shown me how to put aside my prejudices and see people for who they are, like me. –“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”-Proverbs 11:25*
I believe my true growth is to discover the importance of both facets and how to find common ground. I do believe we could learn a little from our canine buddies about unconditional love and how to show it to others. We may look different on the outside, but on the inside, we all have a heart and blood pumping through our veins. Unlike my dogs, instead of wagging my tail, I will grace a smile to show my genuine acceptance of a new best friend.
*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society