By Jacqi Ballough
Shep, short for shepherd or protector, is a sweet fluffy puppy who was adopted into our family a few weeks ago.
Our son immediately hugged and cuddled the little guy like a proud father all the while an excited tail wagged and licks were given. It was a precious moment for us as parents to watch, while for our son, it was “a dream come true” to have and raise a pup of his own.
My husband and I knew from past experience that the puppy would take a considerable amount of time and energy. My son on the other hand was experiencing the mountaintop experiences along with the inconveniences for the first time.
Selflessness has to be on the forefront of your mind when a living creature is relying on you for love, food, water, and bathroom breaks.
A few days after the puppy’s arrival, we ran out for some errands but arrived home to a fetid smell. A poopy puppy awaited us, and as the “dad” of the dog, my son had the duty of washing the dirty pup and also cleaning an extremely rancid crate.
The challenges of a puppy can be frustrating and even messy at times, but during those moments, I am reminded that the value is in the lessons learned and the relationship that is formed from the unpleasant events.
I was encouraged when our son said, “Sometimes I don’t like doing this, but I know in the end it will be worth it when I have good dog.”
In real life, relationships with people (even fellow Christians) can be the same: inconvenient, frustrating and rancid at times, but if we pinch our nose and press through during the unpleasant circumstances, the relationships can grow stronger and the unconditional love of Christ can sweeten the smell.
Loving through life’s relational conflicts or differing convictions takes pure will-power. It is a choice: continuing to love, or not; to pray or not; to listen to the Holy Spirit or not; to humble yourself, or not. In the end, the right choices will make the body of Christ “good” and worth it.
Paul reminds us of what is good in his letters to the early church: Accepting God’s sacrificial love, our relationship with Him, and through Him being connected with other brothers and sisters in one accord.
By remembering how the Lord cared for us in our stinky messes to the point of cleaning us up using His son’s own blood, we can by faith be “good”, holy, and blameless in his sight. Because of His amazing grace and goodness, we, in turn, are able to share the same grace with others.
“Fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliest of mind let each esteem others as better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interest of others.” Philippians 2:2-4