Tessie, my husband’s cat, had been missing for a couple of days. I went out last night and opened all doors to sheds, etc., in case she was locked in. About noon my husband drove in from his morning of volunteering at a community outreach center; he was honking his horn all the way up the driveway and into the garage.
“Enough, already,” I shouted to him, thinking he would surely rattle all the windows in the houses. What had gotten into him?
“Go see if that’s Tess laying down there beside the road,” he commanded. Yes, it was Tess and she was dead, run over by a car. I knew how devastated he would be as he had raised her from a kitten, and they had a special bond. He might growl and be ornery with others, but Tess would still jump up into his lap and love on him.
With a shovel in hand and a gallon of water to loosen the dry ground, we took turns digging her grave. We said a prayer over her and put stones in the shape of a cross on her grave. He said, “That will be the last cat I ever have. I just can’t stand loosing another one.”
I’ve thought about that statement and how tempting it is to never take the risk of being hurt again. It might not be a beloved pet–it might be the loss of a loved child or mate, a failed promise from someone we trusted, any number of events that strike close to home. We just want to wall ourselves off from being vulnerable, from being loved or loving in return.
And therein lies the answer. We are created beings made to love and be loved. It is not a matter of receiving, but of giving as well. Unconditional love doesn’t count the cost or expect a pay-off. Tricky thing is, most of us have a hard time loving unconditionally, yet that is the most fulfilling act we can experience. It is close to the essence of God, the love of Christ on the cross.
How can we go on after a devastating blow? I think it has to do with hope. Hope is the assurance we have as redeemed Christians that we can trust God to keep us securely in His hands. Without this hope, I can understand how people can run, hide, and refuse to take risks. It is a matter if trust. Mental health people have identified the process of getting past the hurt—the grieving process. It will happen, even though maybe not in the prescribed order. The base truth is that a person will get through it, and life will go on.
I have experienced some hurts, losses, and betrayals in my life. I find that I am more strong and resilient than I ever thought I would be. I seem to be like a tree planed beside a stream of water…
“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8) (NLT)
My hope is that my husband will open his heart again someday for a new cat.