(Originally written at 5:29 am, Tuesday August 29 – this version has been retyped and edited to make it sound smarter than my sleep-deprived self wrote it originally)
Maggie. Maggie Lester, soon to be Maggie Lester-Lemmons. Maggie is, technically speaking, still Ashley’s dog, but she has been living with me (and Cricket, my dog of almost 13 years now) in my apartment since November of 2004. Although there was a period of adjustment between Maggie and Cricket, Maggie now very much thinks of me as “daddy” (for as much as a dog is capable of thinking), and she has grown to love me, just as I have grown to love her. Funny that; I initially volunteered to play host home for Maggie because Ashley couldn’t have a dog in her apartment on campus, and not to try and curry any favor with Ashley and have her fall head-over-heels in love with me because I was keeping her puppy. Granted, I’m glad that it helped, but still…
God, in all of His infinite wisdom and coolness, sometimes uses Maggie & Cricket to give me insight about His love towards me is. Whether it’s the fact that Cricket, with her stinky breath, wants to give me a kiss (because sometimes I feel like the best I can offer God is my own stinky kisses) or whether It’s the way that they both just get so happy when I come into their presence (reminding me of how I am supposed to be with Him), or the way that I love them, even when they make a mess in the house – it’s kind of humbling and amazing just how many parallels I can draw from my own life when I consider these two fuzzballls.
This morning, Maggie drove the point home in a way only she could. Probably around 4:00 in the morning, she came up to the side of my bed and started whining. LOUDLY. Maggie has fallen into this bizarre sleeping pattern of when sometimes; she apparently just needs me to be with her, to hug her, and to sleep by me. Now, I’m a big enough of a softie that when I crawl into bed every night, I’d love for Maggie and Cricket both to jump in and we all fall asleep together, one big bundle of cuddles. But, Cricket sis now too old to jump on and off the bed, and Maggie gets pernickety sometimes and doesn’t give a crap about being anywhere near me when she sleeps.
Maggie doesn’t want to be petted and loved on unless it’s on HER terms, and at her time. She’s much happier to run around the apartment, free-willed and independent as all get-out, chewing on her stuffed squeaky “chicken,” trying – on rare occasion – to get me to play with her. And even though I’d rather show her my love, she’d rather run free. …sound familiar?
However, this morning, all I knew was that her cries indicated she wanted to be loved on. By me. So, I scooted over in bed, and gave her my side, the side I had been on all night long. As soon as I moved over, she jumped up, lie down beside me, and promptly fell asleep. She just wanted to be with me.
Now keep in mind – she’s a dog. And the way she sleeps is not how I would choose to sleep. Unlike a human, she does not lay head-to-foot in the bed like a person; she lies ACROSS the bed, length-wise. So, what do I do? I move again. I move from lying where I am to laying where she is; I move to love on her where she is. And she doesn’t stir. In fact, she’d probably still be laying there with my arm around her if I hadn’t felt God compelling me to get up and write this down.
And here’s where it gets even more fun: once I got out of bed to go into the living room, it turns out the little snot had actually done something she wasn’t supposed to do in the house. See, I have this peace lily in my living room that Maggie, for reasons I cannot explain, loves to chew on. I tell her not to, I move the plant away, and every time – she keeps coming back to it, eating it, getting sick and throwing up. Now, could I have gotten angry (again) and gotten on to her? Yeah, I could’ve – but I looked into my bedroom, and I saw her as a puppy, my “child,” if you will, and not as a belligerent and obstinate thing. She didn’t feel good, she was sick from doing something she wasn’t supposed to do, and she simply needed some love and reassurance from her “daddy.” Totally a “prodigal” moment if there ever was one.
It’s a little bit mind-blowing, the way God uses the people – and loved ones (which would be Maggie & Cricket, in case you weren’t keeping score) – in our lives to illustrate His love for us. Simple? Yeah. But sometimes, the simple is all we need to remind us of His love.