My wife and I have always had dogs as part of our family. We usually opt to rescue dogs and provide them with a safe, loving home. Our two children (aged 15 and 11) are a tremendous help. They patiently aid in the dogs’ recovery while earning their trust and teaching them daily routines.
Caring for dogs and watching how they respond to things has taught me a lot about myself. Here are two such lessons:
1. God provides.
Most pet owners will agree that whenever daily routines are disrupted, it’s easy for pets to become nervous, anxious, or panicked. The same holds true for humans. At some point in life, our daily routines will be disrupted, and we will face dire circumstances. These may range from a busted house pipe to a lost job to a cancer diagnosis. Regardless of what kind of hardship, we each experience several during our lifetime. When these “emergencies” strike, we are forced to use significant amounts of time, energy, and resources to find a solution. Our daily lives are often put on hold so that we can address a difficult situation. And here is where I falter: Whenever I place my daily routine on hold, I also place God on hold. I no longer find time to read scripture, meditate, reflect, or pray. I’m too busy managing my crisis. If I fail to find a solution, I become frustrated, which causes me to ignore God even more so that I can work harder at my dilemma. I become a “dog chasing his tail.” I can’t rest until I find a solution. And when I’m exhausted and completely out of options, I finally realize that God provides the solution. Even though I may physically perform whatever task is needed, it is God who provides:
patience when things go awry;
insight to think of new solutions;
resources to fix a problem; perspective to lessen our anxiety;
hope, inspiration, forethought, intuition, perseverance, and a host of other elements needed when times are tough.
God’s guidance is often subtle. Rarely does a solution drop from the sky in a thunderbolt of revelation. Sometimes praying helps me talk through a problem, which allows a solution to surface. I believe God is always present and willing to help. I just need to listen.
2.Everyone deserves God’s love.
It should be noted that my dogs are pit bulls that were rescued after years of neglect and abuse. Pit bulls are banned in some parts of the country, and many people believe they are inherently dangerous. After years of research and caring for them, I find this to be highly inaccurate.
Pit bulls (and their reputation) remind me of the marginalized members of our own society. Many of us have misconceptions about marginalized groups, including those who are homeless, mentally ill, or addicted to drugs. I am a firefighter, so I am called to help people without any bias or prejudice. For example, not only must I help the victims of a drunk driver, but also the driver who caused the accident. As a firefighter, my job is to help. As a Christian, my job is to love. This is a tough task, and I must admit that I’m probably a better firefighter than I am a Christian. But I trust that God will help me sift through the misinformation, half-truths, and popular opinions in order to treat all of God’s creatures with the love they deserve.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.