Aren’t pets great?
Don’t you love how the dogs comes running to the door when you get home and show unrestrained excitement? All they want to do is lick your face and show you how glad they are to see you. And it doesn’t matter that you’ve been gone only 15 minutes to run an errand.
It’s wonderful to be loved with such reckless abandon. Wouldn’t it be nice if people loved us that way, too? Well, except for the face-licking part.
Or how about when the cat jumps on your lap, curls up and purrs loudly and contentedly as you sip your morning coffee, reminding you that there’s no other place on Earth that they’d rather be. Right there with you, absorbing your warmth and love with a total, relaxed trust. The best place in the whole world.
Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody said that being with you is the best place in the whole world?
Let’s fess up: There are times when we get so aggravated with people, and it’s nice to get away from them and sit on the couch with the dog contentedly stretched out next to us. Or to sit there and let the cat’s purrs transform our lap into a sacred space.
Pets are so much easier to get along with than people. They’re not as complicated and unpredictable, not as demanding and challenging, not as mysterious and messy. People are very messy.
And that messiness makes relationships a portal to the divine.
As much as we like to be with our pets, we have to keep going out the door and dealing with people. Amazing people. Frustrating people. Inspiring people. Loving people. Broken people. Confused people. Self-doubting people. Challenging people. Lost people. People who have all the same anxieties and fears that we do.
Relationships make us grow into who we are meant to be. And the process is always, always, always messy.
If there’s no messiness, there’s not much relationship. Relationships tap into our insecurities and make them bubble up and out despite our best efforts to ignore them or keep them hidden.
They highlight our fears and insecurities in bright, bold colors. They grow and develop in their own time and have their own confusing and confounding rhythms.
They challenge us and fulfill us and yes, they make us want to beat our heads against the wall, depending upon the time of the day.
Relationships are miracles written with leaky pens, in smeared ink.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool to have a dog lick our face or a cat curl up on our lap, but it’s quite another thing to look into the eyes of someone who really loves us and isn’t afraid to show it.
They don’t completely understand us – we don’t even understand ourselves, so that part isn’t surprising. But they want to try to understand as much as they can because it makes them feel closer to us.
They’re willing to pay the price for being in relationship with us. They’re willing to wrestle with the fears and uncertainties and feelings of inadequacy that relationships unearth – theirs and ours.
They decide that we are worth all of this.
They listen, even when they’re not entirely sure what we’re trying to say. They’re patient, even though we’ve just fallen back into the same bad habit we’ve been trying to break forever. They forgive, even though we’ve promised not to do again what we’ve just done again.
They try to meet our needs, even though they’re not exactly sure what to say or what to do much of the time other than to just hug us and remind us that we’re important to them.
They’re willing to dive into the messiness of relationship and let it seep into their hair and ooze into their ears and embed itself under their fingernails.
And for reasons that make us forever thankful and grateful, they’re willing to let the messiness of relationship into their hearts, where it gets redeemed.
These crazy, amazing, grace-filled people want to see all of us – the messy parts, the pretty parts, the crazy parts, the broken parts, the take-your-breath-away parts – and love all of us. And in a truly courageous act, they let down their walls and let us see the messy, ugly, broken parts of them, too.
It’s important to embrace those people. Also, to try to be one of those people. To love with an unrestrained joy and a holy purr.
Purring is encouraged. Face-licking is optional.