Thursday, July 28, 2011

A love that IS up to scratch

He was curiously staring at my hand covered with scratch marks in the process of healing. “Where did these come from?” he asked me.
Tidds (the older of our two cat children) loves lying on the kitchen table. Every now and again when I pass by I stop to give him a quick brush and a kiss. He just seems to love it. As soon as I start he rolls over until I’ve brushed all 360* of him.

It took me a long time to win Tidds’ trust. Little M (baby Monster) is an easy going, loves everyone kind of personality who just wants to play all the time, but Tidds I’ve always perceived as the more serious one. He is about 7 years older than M. He is very clever though. He knows his body parts and when you ask him for his ear so you can kiss it, he doesn’t give you his tail. He even knows his left and right paw from each other.

I’ve never seen him play; not by himself or with a person – only with his little brother. Sometimes when he is lying on his back
and I’m brushing his belly he playfully paws the brush. At first I perceived it as him telling me that I’m doing something that he doesn’t like but later on I realized that he was only playing with the brush because he enjoyed it so much! Initially though he pawed my hand a few times instead leaving me with quite a few scratches. 

I couldn’t decide whether to just leave him be or whether I should continue trying to be kind. In the end I decided on the latter and as I get to know him better I understand better what I can do and what I should rather not do and it’s made quite a pleasant difference.
Staring at my hand I realized that it is often the same with people. Sometimes you try to be kind and you get scratched instead; not quite what you imagined when you were pondering your kind intentions. So once you’ve been scratched and you’re bleeding you have to decide what to do about it: do you get angry and scratch back? Do you sit in a corner, staring at the trickle of blood and feel sorry for yourself? Do you make up your mind that you will never show kindness again since this is the thanks you get for it? Do you write off that person and rather be kind to others in future (maybe until you discover that everyone scratches every now and again)?
And what if you’re the “cat”: are you someone who scratches others who show kindness to you because you’ve not known a lot of kindness before and think that everyone who reaches out in kindness secretly intends to harm you? Or do you go around clawing and scratching before anyone’s even had a chance to reach out with kindness – and maybe even thinking that you somehow have the right to do so?

The reality of life is that there is no way for us to be in relationships without getting hurt. People are fallible and even with the best of intentions we hurt others and they hurt us. The question is what we decide to do about it once it’s happened. Just like hurting others says something about one person, your response to it says something about you.
God’s love is the only love that is perfect. God is perfect. God is love. Nothing can compare to it. His love has the power to heal a broken heart and it drives out all fear - fear of rejection, fear of punishment, fear for tomorrow or fear because of yesterday. His love has the power to show you the way HE sees you and who He’s made you to be. His love makes you want to love Him back, and then share that love with others.
No wonder God says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Then He says, “…do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God].” (Luk 10:25-28 AMP)
As we come to understand how God loves us and what He has done for us then it awakens a desire in us to love Him back. But also in that process you learn how to love yourself better, the way He does. And once you understand that better you are able to share that love with others more effectively – not your own human love, but God’s love through you.
And that’s where everything changes!!

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