Practical lessons from the single black arrow: Submission and Selfless Love. If you didn’t catch my post about the arrows you can find it here.
Stepping off the deck I surveyed the mist rising on the beams of sun that were poking through the trees. I breathed deeply, the mix of the fresh water from the river behind us and the musky dampness of the deep forest around us awakened my senses, “What a great day for a walk Rippley!” Rippley was a friend that I always started my day with! She was a beautiful brown and white husky that I treasured. She was a real little lady too, always a pristinely groomed coat and whenever she lay down, her front paws usually crossed.
For many years, Rippley had shared our family’s adventures as well as my struggles through a particular arduous season of my life. During this time, I had often wept into her soft coat knowing my tears and secrets would be safe. I could sense a genuineness in her eyes, you go ahead and cry, you will feel better afterwards.”
This morning, as usual, she was waiting at the front gate. The spark in her eye and the playful sway of her tail indicated her happiness to get started. As I clasped the shank to her collar, her tail quickened and her excitement grew. With the click of the gate latch she bolted through, but not before stopping …just at the end of the lead. How does she know how far to go? She sure is a clever dog.
That was the last walk I took with Rippley. She was healthy to the end, but sadly, she stroked that afternoon. It was severe and she never recovered. It was hard to grieve her. She was always so full of life, like a perpetual puppy. I had overlooked that she was aging, so I hadn’t prepared myself and I missed her. Animal lovers know that pets come and go, but every once in a while there is one that just gets lodged in your heart. Rippley was one of those pets.
Weeks passed, and every couple of days Darrell, my husband, would probe, “I saw some puppies for sale, what do you think?” My response was always the same, “No, I’m just not ready.” He continued to ask over the next few weeks, and I started to get irritated, “Rippley was special to me, she was my dog and I’m going to grieve her in my own way, not your way, OK. I’ll let you know when, if ever, I want to get another dog. Please stop pushing me!”
We are both dog people, and this wouldn’t do for Darrell. He pressed on, “Robyn, we grieve people but we replace pets. I loved Rippley too and I miss her, but I think another dog could fill that void for you, and help you get over her.”
That did it. I didn’t want to get over her. And knowing I couldn’t have her back only served to top off my grief with anger. I turned on my heel and marched towards the house, muttering to myself, you’re going to push me? Fine. I’ll find the most expensive little dog I can find. Yes, my immaturity was beginning to show. Indeed, I was responding from pain and this can never be good. But sometimes there are deeper lessons going on than what appears to be the issue. I had decided to look for an expensive dog because I knew Darrell didn’t like to spend too much on pets and little because, what man likes small dogs, Right? (well some do, but I knew mine didn’t)
It was my last ditch effort to not get another dog.
Darrell had come in from the shop (we were operating a business on our property) and it was time for lunch. As soon as he stepped through the door, I spun around on the office chair and pointed to the dog I had just found, “I want that dog right there!” He approached the computer and eagerly looked over my shoulder, “Hmmm, a Shih Tzu, OK, let’s call and see if there is one available and we‘ll swing by the bank on the way.”
Uh-oh that was not the response I was looking for. Reluctantly, I called and found out the address.
“There is one left; it’s a male. I don’t know if I want a male dog.” Darrell didn‘t give me much time to think about it though, “Well, let’s go take a look anyway.”
It was a forty-five minute drive from our home to where this puppy was, and it was starting to snow. Great I thought. We piled into the car, the kids and dad full of excitement.
I entertained them with a few names that I thought they might like. But really, I was trying to get them to begin ownership of this puppy, because I still, really did not want another dog. So the whole time we were driving there I was hardening my heart towards this little puppy.
I felt like my feelings were being ignored and I was being forced — I didn‘t like it.
We pulled into the laneway and Darrell put $500 in my hand. Why is this so hard? I thought to myself. Hesitatingly, I made my way to the door and as I reached to press the doorbell the outdoor light illuminated. The woman had a little bundle in her arms that she cradled like a baby, as she leaned out to push open the door and welcome me in, the wind caught a corner of the blanket revealing this little mass of black. Then, as if right on cue, his little black head flopped over and he was looking at me from upside down, right into my eyes, it seemed.
In a flash, all the hardness of not wanting him melted away. She placed him in my arms, and like there had been a secret bond already established between him and my husband, this little guy struggled to climb up my chest and nuzzled into the nape of my neck, “just give me a chance.”
The lady broke into this private humbling of mine,
It is surprising how fast ownership happens. Before I knew it the words retorted out of my mouth, “What’s wrong with his colour, I think he‘s really cute.” With those words, I handed over the cash and with both hands held him up to look at him, “Hey Rocky, welcome to the Gibson family!” The lady smiled, she knew immediately, “Rocky, as in Balboa — that’s awesome?”
But the final lesson came for me the following winter. Darrell always uses the snow blower to build a mountain of snow in the backyard for the kids. Rocky was outside in the backyard and as I passed by the window I peeked outside to make sure he was ok. He had dug a hole in the side of the mountain of snow and was curled up in a little ball. He must be cold, I thought. But all he did when I opened up the door to call him in, was look at me and then he nestled back into the hole, just like Rippley used to do.
Darrell had been right.
It was this experience that taught me to trust the heart of my husband. When I was hurting and not thinking clearly from emotions, he knew what I needed but I hadn’t given him the benefit of the doubt, I had believed the worst in him and not the best. It was a bittersweet lesson, but well worth it.
Love (God’s love in us)
does not insist on its own rights or its own way
for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful
Love bears up under
anything and everything that comes
is ever ready to believe the best of every person
(1 Corinthians 13:5,7)