Real | Loving | Relevant

Dirty Paw Prints

I just lived through one of the most equally awful and humorous experiences of my entire life. At least, I’m hoping it will be humorous 24 hours from now…

I’m on my way to Miami, Florida, to start a new job, new life, and new direction in ministry–I couldn’t be more excited.

Hilton Head Island is the perfect half-way point between Charlottesville and Miami, and it just so happens my grandparents live there for a month every March. I had the perfect place to spend the night for free on my voyage. Or so I thought.

The only hangup is that my grandparent’s resort doesn’t allow pets. Of any kind. Not even the adorable dog kind pictured below (my baby, Beni, who I’ve had for two months now). I even laid the charm on thick for the gate attendant, but it was a no-go. “Absolutely no pets!” (direct quote)

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So my dog and I ended up going to a hotel across town that had space AND accommodated canine creatures. I wasn’t about to miss out on my grandma’s homemade spaghetti though, so I left Beni safe and sound with toys, food, and water in the hotel room while I went down the road to eat dinner. WORST IDEA EVER.

I came back to discover my poor dog (who has severe separation anxiety–I should have seen this coming) covered in her own poop. Which was also all over the floor. And the walls. And the bedding of the hotel room… in neat little poopy paw prints.EWWWWW!!!! And of course, it happened to be the worst smelling poop I think I’ve ever smelled. I felt like I needed a hazmat suit.

Instead of being mad, all I could do was scoop my trembling, terrified pup up in my arms and pet her until she calmed down. She was so afraid that I had left her for good. She had felt abandoned, and she responded as any dog would: in distress.

As I held her and stroked her and told her I wasn’t leaving again, I felt Jesus whisper in my ear:

“This is how I feel about you when you feel abandoned by me.”

My heart swallowed.

Have you ever felt abandoned by God? Do you currently?

In my early days of understanding who Jesus was, before I fully surrendered my heart to him, I felt abandoned on almost a daily basis. I would spend hours in my dorm room crying, screaming, praying to Jesus. I wanted to hear him. Feel him. Touch him. Sense him. I felt abandoned by him to die in my loneliness, confusion, and anxiety. I wasn’t sure if he was ever coming back.

To know that he looked at me in that panicked state and felt the compassion (tenfold) for me that I am currently feeling for my traumatized pup is priceless. I will always remember my time of seeking as a painful time in my life–but it brings my heart healing to know that Jesus WAS there. He WAS watching, and his heart WAS aching with mine.

Isaiah 54:7 says: “I abandoned you for one brief moment, but I will bring you back with unlimited compassion.”

Sometimes we feel that God is absent. There’s a myriad of reasons for that, which themselves merit another post for another day. The truth is that even in the middle of our dirty chaos, our emotional distress, and our discomfort, he cares for us. He does not prevent us from feeling abandoned, but the truth is that we are NEVER truly abandoned. Our God will always come for us, and scoop us up into his loving arms when he does–poop stains and all.

M

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