**Update from this weekend – forgot to post! But, better late than never!***
My eyes are still red.
I’m late to the party, but I finally watched Marley and Me.
Those writers sure do know how to tell a story.
Dogs have always been around me. Either my family or someone in my family has always had a dog. I guess you could say we are “dog lovers.” I remember the black and white dog at my grandparents farm and I was just a little girl back then. Less than four years old. I believe that dog’s name was “Cookie.”
The wonderful thing about dogs is their absolute loyalty and heart. You can say mean things out of anger to dogs and they will still love you. Even if you had a spat the day prior, a dog doesn’t drag that back up the next day. That dog will still be happy to see you when you come home. S/he’ll greet you with happy panting, tail-wagging, and a pink tongue ready to slurp you up.
Too bad most people don’t share these same characteristics. Well, maybe not the tail-wagging, tongue-licking part. But some humans, after a fight (or in some instances, before a fight) like to hold grudges.
But dogs don’t do that. They live in the moment. They don’t hold on to yesterday. All they know is that they love you, and want to be around you.
Watching Marley and Me reminded me of the great compassion that dogs have when we don’t. It reminded me of their nobility – if you’ll work with me on that one. I’m saying that the characteristics that some dogs display is of higher character than some of us humans when it comes to forgiveness. All through the movie, Marley was referenced as the world’s worst dog – that is until the end. And, if you’ve not seen the movie, I encourage you to do so. It will pull you into the story, allowing you to feel the joy and the pain that comes with owning a pet.
Marley, even through her antics, many of them hilarious, others not so much, has reminded me that no one is unloveable. No matter how talk to you, not matter how they treat you, no matter all the mean things that they may say about you behind your back or even to your face and no matter how many grudges they decide to hold against you. If they want to hold a grudge, don’t drop down their level. Instead, drop down to your knees and pray for them.
Take the high road and be kind.
I needed to be reminded of that. Thank you Lord for such sweet encouragements and reminders! You see, for me, once trust has been broken in a relationship – when mean things are said to me, or when someone decides that they would rather hold a grudge against me instead of working on whatever the offense may be, my general response is to let them fade into the background, until they can get their act together, and see that there is a greater, more important work at hand. I want them to see that we are in a spiritual battle and that the enemy would like nothing more than to drive divisions in purported Christian relationships. Aren’t we supposed to be about soul-winning for Christ? Aren’t we to have a solid focus on things other than ourselves. The answer – yes. So, when I allow myself to think on things other that those which bring Him glory, I waste time.
Sure, the sting of grudges can be severe – especially if you care for that person. But, don’t waste time licking wounds and plotting come-back strategies. Pray for them, be open to how God may ask you to move in that situation, and then, let it be. Go on with your life.
You can’t make someone treat you right, and you don’t have any control over somebody else’s grudges. Accept that.
So, pray for them, and guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) You don’t want somebody else’s issues creeping up into your life causing you problems. Be sure to ask yourself: Am I harboring any unforgiveness? Has that person’s venom of immaturity been transferred and pumped into my heart? Is hatred present? And if so, if any of this rings true, now what? Take these cares and concerns to the Lord.
You see, that’s why I’m encouraging us all to take an “animalistic” approach to relationships. My good friends and I talk about not letting things fester in our relationships with others and in our relationships with each other. And this is how we remain good friends – we communicate with kind words even in heated debates. Yet, because we value each other and have compassion toward each other, and desire most to see each other’s good, we are even able to quickly forgive and continue our relationships when an offense occurs (though they don’t occur often).
Dogs don’t harbor hate. They quickly forgive – they don’t hold grudges. They still think you are the cat’s meow, the cool breeze in their face and the apple of their eye. And they will be right there waiting for you, no matter what mean thing you said, with their happy panting, tail-wagging and pink tongue, ready and willing to slurp you up!
So, once more, don’t harbor hate. Don’t embrace grudges. And when someone has done you wrong and hurt your heart, no matter the circumstance, take the higher road of compassion and model for them what forgiveness looks like. Don’t drop to their level, drop to your knees in prayer. Think about Marley.
I know it can be hard. People can say some hurtful things. But let’s be encouraged together and know that this is the right thing to do. I’m still working on it myself and do not profess to be an expert in the matter. But I believe that by so doing, we will honor God in our relationships with one another. And we, together, build a stronger witness for Christianity.
A key verse to ponder: James 5:9
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
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