A decision, love, and a dog
Today, I’m going to tell you a story.
Here are the 3 main characters:
This is how the story goes …
Boy wants (and has wanted for quite some time) a dog. Girl could care less about ever having a dog. Boy and Girl finally get a house and yard that is conducive for a dog. A dog (a boxer, no less! Boy loves boxers!) comes up for sale on Craigslist. Girl decides to agree to getting the dog out of love for Boy, although is still somewhat hesitant. Although Boy loves the dog and the dog is awesome with the kids, she is young, still needs training, and is naughty at times. Girl complains often about dog and does not enjoy the dog being part of the family. Boy is gracious with Girl’s complaining, but one day kindly suggests she needs to change her attitude about the dog. Girl realizes she needs a heart change because she is actually making Boy “pay” for her supposed “labor of love.”
The end. Or not?
As you can see by the pictures above, “Girl” is me, “Boy” is my husband, Shun-Luoi, and the dog is our boxer, Asha. After reading my story, you have maybe decided that since you don’t own a dog, this post does not really apply to you. Well, hold on. I am guessing that you too have at one time or another acted out of love for someone, only to make him or her “pay” for that “act of love.” Maybe you encouraged your husband to have a night out with the guys, only to later complain about the extra work him going out caused you. Maybe you went out of your way to help a friend, but then slyly made some reference to how you were inconvenienced by helping her. We tend to do this kind of thing, don’t we? Initiating something and then following through in love to the end can be hard for those of us who sin (Ahem, if you try to convince me that you do nothing contrary to how God instructs us to live our lives or how He intended us to live, I won’t believe you. Sorry.).
But this story isn’t about you. It’s about me, and it’s a true story. I didn’t grow up with pets and quite frankly, would have been happy to never have one. However, my husband has incredibly fond memories of the boxer dog he grew up with and wanted a dog for our family as well. In theory, I could somewhat understand why he wanted one. But in reality, I thought mostly about the additional work having a dog would bring during a time that was already busy because of having small children. However, we ended up getting a puppy (not a boxer) back in December and when Shun-Luoi ended up being allergic to it, I must admit I wasn’t all that sad. Then, at one point in March, Shun-Luoi again started looking online for dogs that were for sale. One afternoon, he excitedly called me about a boxer dog he had found for sale. The dog was being sold for a great deal, but we needed to make our decision quickly because of the tendency for boxers to sell almost immediately. I determined in my mind to try again and a few hours later, we went to pick up (gulp) our new dog.
Asha is a beautiful dog. She is incredibly patient with my kids. Shun-Luoi loves her. However, she is fairly emotionally needy. She loves human food, especially if it’s sitting on my kitchen counter (argh). Oh, and she eats poop. Read here if must know more …
But it’s really not about the dog. It’s about me, and about my heart. It’s about me not following through in love on a decision I agreed to out of love for my husband. How did I make Shun-Luoi pay for us getting a dog, you ask? Well, I often say things to Shun-Luoi that begins with, “Your dog did _________,” or,”That dog!” (usually said with clenched teeth). Basically, I complain a lot about her. Oh, and although I am not mean in a physical sense, I do tend to yell at her, and don’t take time to love on her. There’s a whole lot more to the dog part of this, like me not understanding the reasons behind Asha’s misbehavior, and me not taking the time to train her, etc., but that’s not for this blog post.
The point is – if I’ve chosen to do something out of love for Shun-Luoi, he should never have to ask me to adjust my attitude (which, again, he did incredibly graciously) about that choice. He should not have to put up with my complaining and whining about the decision I had made. To put it bluntly, my choice to love him should not make him wish I had never made that choice. My choice should not come at such a high cost to him.
If I make a specific decision to love Shun-Luoi, I need to keep living that decision in love, even though it may (and does) cost me. Because my husband is worth it. And more than that, because it’s the kind of love I am called to as a Christ-follower; love that follows through once a decision is made, no matter the cost.