Eeew wanton debauchery! Run awaaaayyyyyy!
Don’t worry, this isn’t some raunchy tell-all. In some ways that title is completely misleading, but in other ways it’s totally appropriate. Oooh, the tantalising difference between speaking literally and figuratively!
A couple of months ago I read an article about how much people love, and feel loved by their pets. In it, they made reference to some statistics released by the Australian Companion Animal Council. The council reports that 91% of owners feel “very close” to their pets. In fact, 56% of women and 41% of men said that their pet is more affectionate than their partner.
I was shocked to realise that, while the statistic saddened me, it didn’t actually surprise me.
As humans, we do tend to harbour a number of prerequisites, subconscious or otherwise, that must be filled before we give our love away.
- What do you look like?
- What do you do?
- How old are you?
- How do you smell?
- Will being seen with you make me more or less “cool by association”?
A six month old baby with big blue eyes, a musical laugh, and a clean nappy?
Hand him over lady, and I’ll cover that kid with kisses.
The middle aged woman with greasy hair, 12 teeth in total and a rasping cough?
Avert thine eyes children, and dash off to buy sushi.
Many of you have probably guessed that I have a border collie puppy.
Her name is Indie, and she brings much joy into our lives.
When we walk down the street, Indie happily engages with anyone and everyone, only limited by the length of the leash (!)
The little old lady with her wheelie walker; the teenage skinheads smoking at the train station; the professionals at lunch, sipping lattes with their laptops … they all get the same affectionate acknowledgement.
Dogs don’t care if your sunnies are Armani, your car is a rust box, or you’ve gained 15 kilos. Dogs don’t care if you’re intellectually disabled, you just got promoted, or your legs need a shave. They only care that you’re there, with them, and have time for a pat.
When I was a little girl I thought that when I was very good, I made God proud, and he loved me more; but when I was naughty, then he got disappointed, and I had to earn back his love by impressing him somehow. One time at church the minister told us that God loved us, and there was nothing that we could do to make him love us any more, and nothing we could do to make him love us any less. God loves us, just for being us, with an unchanging love. I remember being really surprised by this – surely we can influence how much other people love us by the things we do? I certainly felt less love for my parents straight after being smacked. For many years these thoughts rattled around in my brain, not quite fitting with my experience of the world. And then I got a puppy, who made me think…
Maybe Indie understands more about God’s love than I do? Indie gives love freely, and without thought of return. She doesn’t love people because she thinks she should, it’s completely genuine. Indie’s love for us is unchanging, regardless of whether we just took her for a long walk, or forgot her breakfast that morning.
Is my dog a better Christian than I am?