Six years ago, our third born, 4 month old baby Lukey had RSV and we were in the hospital for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and I think the day after. While I was in there with him, Mike left to go home and check on the girls, and without my knowing it, to pick up a puppy.
A cute puppy.
An adorable puppy.
A golden-doodle puppy.
Ninety percent of you are probably like, "AWWWWWW. How sweet. What an amazing Christmas gift." But not me. If you know me in real life, you know I'm NOT a doggy person. I love people who love them. I wish them well. But I've had ZERO desire for one of my own. Honestly, most of them scare me. Big ones scare me. Little ones scare me. I'm just scared of most dogs.
And, I don't like the way their paws feel on your legs when they jump on you. I don't like the messes that they can make. And we've always already had plenty of mouths to feed on an always tight budget. Plus I'm a clean freak. And you know, doggy paw prints on wood floors. And vet bills. And food. And toy. Crates. Collars. Rushing home to "let the dog out."
There is a LOT to consider about getting a dog. It's not exactly a good idea to "surprise" a non-doggy loving person with a dog. Especially someone who at that time didn't even like a "surprise!" And who had 3 little kids, in the winter, in the snow, one who was sick.
It was all wrong for us. My attitude was so terrible about him, it was an absolute Miracle when Mike's friend said he'd take him. Boy was I glad. Until they actually came to get him. That was DEVASTATING. To my kids. To me watching my kids cry. I felt like an awful mother and wife. It was easily one of the worst days in our family's history. True story.
My kids never got over it. They'd write all their personal narratives at school about how they'd once had a puppy and were devastated when he got taken away. It was like a heart-break that just wouldn't end.
They have been asking every since for another. SIX YEARS every single day, "When can we get another dog?" Our oldest is an animal lover and all that she wants in life is pets. Mike was raised with dogs, so he's wanted a doggy too. He's told me repeatedly, "They need one. It'll teach them compassion and empathy and responsibility. It will be SO good for them." And all I heard was BLAH-BLAH-BLAH.
When we moved, in a moment of absolute weakness, I agreed to a dog, back while we were still living in Kentucky. A dog by Christmas, in fact. So we, no THEY, have searched and searched and searched, and finally, Daisy's brother popped up. We thought she'd already been taken. At the last second, we were told she was available and I knew she was the dog for us.
I agreed for Mike to get her. And I made up my mind, I was going to have a good attitude about her. (At least MOST of the time!) I prayed and prayed, "God, please let me have a change of heart toward doggies. At least "our" doggy. Let me be a good doggy mom. Let her be good. Please let this work out for us. I cannot go through all that heartache all over again."
So he brought her home and I oohed and aaaaahed over her.
We excitedly face-timed family to show her off. I'd sometimes bring her in the carpool line to pick them up. They'd ask, "Did you take good care of her today?" and I'd tell them about taking her for a walk. Or about how she didn't make a peep in her crate. Sometimes, I'd even say, "Teach me to hold her!" or "Am I holding her right?"
They were so HAPPY that I liked her. Maybe even more happy about that than the doggy itself.
I'm trying so hard to NOT ruin this experience for them. You know that saying, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" #truth Mike also is known for saying "Happy wife, happy life!" #moretruth. There is a sign in our town that says, "Love is patient. Love is Kind. Love is a Choice."
That part, love is a choice is what I'm really writing about. Not about the dog. It is so easy to love people when things are going our way. When kids are behaving. When spouses are doing what you want them to do. But what about when life throws....say a dog....at you. How do you respond?
I used to believed that when things didn't go my way, inside our marriage, I was entitled to act like a brat. To fuss. Complain. Cry. Withhold love. Send hateful text. Need I go on? Maybe you know. I hope you don't. I'd never do that in public, but for some reason, I let the most important relationship of all be the one I've stunk at the MOST! The place I let out all of my "Ugly."
Being a Christian has taught me life isn't always about me and what I want and getting my way, but about the JOY I get to experience when I CHOOSE to LOVE other people well, even when it's not something that I "think" I want. God has shown me time and time and time again, ESPECIALLY THIS YEAR when you love other people and meet their needs, HE will step right in and fill you with JOY that you never thought possible.
Watching my kids chase her around the yard, giggling. Priceless. Seeing them hold her and love on her and making their dreams come true, so worth it. SO WORTH IT!
It's probably not a dog that you "don't" want this holiday season. I do realize I am a very rare bird! Maybe it's a party that your spouse is excited about attending, but that you could seriously do without! Maybe it's a gift that someone is desperate for but that you don't see the value in it. Maybe it's a place that they want to go and would love for you to come along, but that doesn't interest you. Time that someone wants to spend with you, but that you're "too busy" or "too tired" for.
My challenge to mostly myself and maybe you too is to do something that you're really not thrilled about doing. And don't just "do" it. Kicking and screaming and fussing. Ask God to help you do it happily (or at least to silence your grumbling) so that your spouse/kids/another human can ENJOY whatever is that your doing with them or for them. Make up your mind in advance, I am going to CHOOSE to be joyful. I am going to CHOOSE to love other people even when it is NOT what is convenient, easy, or fun for you. In my case, I'm going to choose to love this dog even though I am not a dog person.
Saying NO is good. Really. It is okay to say No. No thank you. No ma'am. No sir. However you want to say it, it's perfectly okay to say No. I think we don't say No enough and we get ourselves exhausted and are good for nothing when we overcommit. Say No to all that you want to say No to.
But I want to be all-in on my Yeses. Not half-hearted. Not just Yeses that make me Happy, but Yeses that make other people happy, too. Especially Mike. ESPECIALLY MIKE. I want to CHOOSE to not be a grumbling wife every chance I get.
I'm realizing that when I set out to bring other people Happiness, to take care of other people better, I end up being the one filled with Joy. Did I mention that already?
The joy that comes with Choosing to Love other people well far exceeds "Being Right" or "Getting Your Own Way." We can create our own happiness, which we absolutely SHOULD work hard to do, but we have so much power within us to CHOOSE to LOVE others well. To make sacrifices for other people so that they can enjoy life too.
When you are ready, when your heart is in the right place, Get the dog! Let him buy the boat. Go fishing with him, or hunting, or to the game that you care nothing about. Golfing, maybe? I don't know. Whatever is his/her jam. Do it and do it with a shockingly good attitude and have a blast doing something you'd never think you'd like. I promise you'll be surprised at how much fun it is to do something outside your comfort zone!
Like me rubbing on this doggy as a type. Baby-talking her like I have done with my own babies. "Oh Daisy! You are such a good puppy! You are the best girl!" If I can become a dog-lover, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
It will change your life. Choosing self-less will change you. You will have so so so much more JOY in the Chaos of life. I PROMISE!
Some scripture that I love and truth to go with it...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong-doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Loves never ends.
Oh my....I have such a long way to go! I am so thankful for God's word and how it is changing my heart, but please know that I still miss the mark all the time. I hollered like a crazy person last night when I realized there was puppy POOP in the carpet by our bed. I'm sorry Mike! I don't always get it right, but I know what I'm aiming for. I have lots of Grace for myself when I come up short and try to have even more Grace for those around me.