During church, a guest speaker was talking about his family’s decision to give away their two small eight-year-old dogs. I could hardly listen to the story and the somewhat buried spiritual point because I couldn’t wrap my brain around giving away our family pet.
When Teddy, our beloved miniature poodle, died at 16 years of age, the loss hit me hard. As the speaker continued to unfold the story of pet inconvenience, children going to college, and the lack of attention his pets were getting, I was trying hard not to judge, because I could relate.
After Teddy died, I vowed not to get another family dog. Our family was too busy and often out of the house for long periods of the day. Having teenagers, I knew I would become the default caregiver despite my teens’ intentions to do their part. Against my better judgment, I conceded to getting a puppy.
So I understood why the speaker was trying to convince us all why his family wanted to give away their pets. Then, the speaker paused and said, “We couldn’t do it. We cried, lost sleep, and rescinded the offer.”
Some of you may be thinking, we are talking animals here, what’s the big deal? The big deal is this: Love and commitment seem to be missing in our relationships (with pets or people). We find easy excuses as to why we want out or don’t want to commit.
The sermon made me think of how disposable relationships are in our culture.
When inconvenience and struggle are involved in any relationship, are we too ready to cut the person off, get out of the marriage, or ditch our commitment? Working through the tough times of love and commitment are what lasting relationships require, pets or people.
Yes, we can get carried away with our pets and actually treat them better than people (listen to the show!). And sometimes, having a pet may not be a good decision and a new home must be found. But generally speaking, pets are a reminder that even unconditional love is inconvenient at times.
The next time you are completely frustrated with someone you would like to cut off, divorce or give away, think about all creatures big and small who need your unconditional love, patience, mercy, and grace to grow in intimacy and stay committed.