How a Dog Taught Me About Unconditional Love
Years ago, my wife and I both wanted a dog. I wanted a big, masculine, hunting dog; she wanted one of those sissy little dogs. At that time, we had been negotiating on twenty acres of property west of the cities that would give my big dog plenty of room to run—a personal prerequisite for getting one. We eventually reached an agreement. I would get Lynne a little dog if she would have a good attitude about my big dog. She agreed and I went on to buy her Muffin, a little Yorkshire Terrier. Before I could buy my big dog, though, the deal on the property fell through. I wound up without my big dog or our new property; plus, I was stuck with a little dog I didn’t want. That dog, Muffin, had two strikes against her when she came.
Muffin was the most affectionate thing you ever saw, but she had a challenge on her hands because I had a bad attitude about how the dog situation turned out. I was absolutely determined that Muffin was going to have a hard life. She would jump in my lap and if Lynne wasn’t looking, I’d push her off onto the floor. If she walked by too close and Lynne wasn’t around, I’d give her a little bump in the rear. I gave Muffin no reason to love me, but she loved me anyway.
To make a long story short, I was as ugly as anybody could ever be to another living being, yet Muffin would not quit loving me. She would come up to me, always happy when she saw me. She’d be wiggling, jump in my lap, and want to be with me. I’d wake up in the morning, and she’d be in the bed licking my cheek. Gradually, Muffin’s unconditional love worked on my heart, and I started to love her.
As I recognized my heart change toward this little dog, I learned something. She didn’t give up on loving me; because of that, our relationship changed, and I eventually came to the place where I just loved little Muffin.
God certainly has a sense of humor; He used Muffin to teach me something about the God-kind of love I would not have learned any other way. If you want to see a relationship turn around, love the other person with the love of God—the love that gives and doesn’t quit. When you love someone with that kind of love, even the most cantankerous guy in the world can turn around, and you’ll reap back that person’s love.
Now, I should clarify that love doesn’t fail (1 Corinthians 13:8), but relationships may fail because they involve people’s free moral agency. If you love someone, you will reap a harvest of love back, if not from that person, through somebody else.
So the next time you are having difficulties in a relationship, remember the lesson Muffin taught me: loving cantankerous and unlovely people with the love of God gives those relationships the very best opportunity to work.