This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement.”
What is “His Encouragement?”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. Since I’m a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning to my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday. We are calling the series, “His Encouragement.”
It is my prayer that these words of encouragement inspired by scripture will help to carry you through the rest of your week My prayer is that this weekly series will be a much needed of reminder that God loves you.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8)
A Chihuahua that Grunts Like a Pig!
“What is that thing?” I asked with disdain as I eyed the squirming bundle my mother held tucked under her arm.
“Hush!” My mother said as she slipped into my dorm room with my grandmother following closely on her heels. My mother closed the door quickly behind her and turned to face me. The bundle that my mother held began to make small grunting sounds. The small creature she was carrying was obscured from my view by the blanket that covered it.
“Is it a pig?” I asked as I took step forward.
“No,” my mother said indignantly, “It’s not a pig!”
She pulled back the blanket to reveal a small white face with bulging eyes staring back at me. “It’s your grandmother’s new dog. This is Tinkerbell.”
“You know I’m not allowed to have animals in my dorm room!” I said as I examined the small creature with disdain. “Besides, we’ve always had big dogs.”
My mother put the dog on the ground. Now that it was free from its blanket, I could see that it was incredibly round with short stubby legs
When I was a little girl, we had owned a large Boxer dog. After she passed away, our family pet had been a medium sized mixed breed who had loved to go for long walks. This small snorting creature was nothing like either of our previous dogs. She looked like a football with legs.
“Well, this time your grandmother wanted a lap dog that would keep her company.”
“I bet she doesn’t even like to go for walks,” I replied as I watched Tinkerbell take in her surroundings.
Suddenly, Tinkerbell ran toward my roommate, Natalie. My roommate had been sitting on her bed bemusedly watching my little family drama unfold in front of her, but she became startled as Tinkerbell barreled toward her. Natalie gave a yelp as Tinkerbell threw her stout little body up onto the bed.
“Help!” She cried. “What’s it doing?”
Tinkerbell ignored Natalie’s protests and promptly curled up onto her lap.
“Guys!” Natalie said plaintively as she sat completely still, “Can one of you get it off me? Please? I’m really more of a cat person.”
Tinkerbell entirely ignored Natalie’s protests, deciding instead to close her eyes and take a nap. Within seconds, the small dog began to snore incredibly loudly.
“That dog is really weird,” I said. “It looks more like a pig than a Chihuahua. Aren’t Chihuahuas supposed to be small and dainty? And how did is it asleep already?”
“Guys?” Natalie added, her voice a half step higher, “I think she’s drooling on my pants. Please?”
Tinkerbell continued to breathe heavily and make tiny grunting noises as she lay curled on my roommate’s lap.
My mother turned to me and commanded, “Go get Tinkerbell.”
“Why?” I asked. “It’s Gram’s dog.”
My grandmother and my mother both exchanged a look and then glanced at me sheepishly.
“Well,” my Mom said after a long pause, “You see- well- Tinkerbell bites.”
I recoiled inadvertently. “What do you mean, she bites?”
Grandma nodded. “You go ahead and get her, dear. We think someone abused her and kicked her before we adopted her. She’s missing some teeth and she doesn’t like a lot of people.”
“That’s terrible!” I exclaimed. My gut lurched at the thought of anyone hurting an animal.
“But never mind that,” my Grandmother said, “You two should get to know each other.”
“Great,” I said. “That’s just great.” Then, I snatched up the blanket that the tiny ferocious canine had been wrapped in and slowly made my way over to Natalie.
Tinkerbell stopped snoring and gave a small low growl.
“Hurry up, man!” Natalie exclaimed. “I don’t want her to bite me!”
“Just hold still,” I told my friend, “I’ll get her.”
Natalie remained motionless while I spoke soothing words and wrapped the blanket around the small dog. As I gently lifted Tinkerbell into my arms like a baby, her bulging eyes met mine and I felt something in my heart begin to melt.
“There! You did it!” My mother exclaimed. “See! I knew you’d like her.”
“Yeah,” I said as I continued to gaze back into Tinkerbell’s surprisingly soulful eyes. “I guess she’s okay. She is pretty weird, though.”
Who Rescued Whom?
Several months later, I was visiting my grandmother during the winter break. One morning during my visit, I awoke with a start to hear my grandmother’s frantic shouting. “Help,” she yelled, “Help! Help!”
I jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen where I found my grandmother using a badminton racket to keep a snarling Tinkerbell at bay.
“Gram!” I cried, “What are you doing? You’re the one who said she was abused! You can’t threaten her with a racket!”
“Well, what else am I supposed to do? She won’t listen to me!”
Tinkerbell snarled ferociously at my grandmother. Then, she lunged at the racket and sunk her few remaining teeth into the netting.
“Here, Tinkerbell!” I cooed softly as I gently lowered myself to the floor and beckoned the dog onto my lap. “Here, girl!”
Tinkerbell stopped snarling and turned to face me.
“It’s okay. Come here, you little weirdo.”
A smile seemed to come over Tinkerbell’s features. Quickly, she scampered over to me and flopped onto my lap.
“There now.” I said as I gently rubbed her back, “You’re safe now.”
Grandma tentatively lowered the racket. “You just like her because she’s odd.”
I looked up at grandma. “Exactly.”
“Well, you can keep her.”
“That’s the plan,” I said as Tinkerbell promptly fell asleep in my lap and began to snore loudly once more.
A Dog’s Love Reminds Us of How We Should Love Others
It’s been ten years since Tinkerbell came into my life. She is still as round and odd as ever. Through the years, Tinkerbell has shown me in her own quiet way that it’s okay to be different. Although she started her life in a dark situation, she was able to find people who loved her just for being herself.
As a young person, I endured a great deal of pain and hardship. It was challenging growing up in a small town as a person of minority descent with a disability. I also struggled with my weight for many years. God has loved me through all my foibles and failures- and so has Tinkerbell.
Tinkerbell’s love for me has been a very tangible reminder of God’s love. She also demonstrates the way that we should love one another. Tinkerbell doesn’t care what I look like. She sees me with her heart. She doesn’t care whether or not I have a disability, how much money I make, or where I’m from. She just loves me.
Tinkerbell has been a constant presence in my life. I’m grateful that she has been by my side through college, seminary, and throughout my first five years in ministry.
Tinkerbell has grown old and now she is also starting to lose her vision. I’m not sure how much longer I will have her in my life, but I’m so grateful for the gift of her love. Tinkerbell’s steadfast devotion serves as a constant reminder to me that we all deserve to be loved. This is an incredibly important lesson for me to keep in mind as I do my best to serve my congregation.
Tinkerbell has taught me that it’s okay to be yourself, because God loves us exactly as we are- even if we are little oddballs.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!