I don’t like dogs. Now, before all you animal lovers out there start pitching a fit, please hear me out. We own two dogs – Annie (Shitzu) and Shamgar (Lhassa). They live in our house, much to my chagrin. But, my husband is a dog lover. My children are dog lovers. And so, I put up with the dogs.
But as I said before, I really don’t care for dogs. They stink. They get fleas. They make messes. And, did I mention, they stink? So, I try to stay far away from them. I burn a lot of candles. I go through many cans of air freshener.
There is a problem, though. Those dogs really love me. I have no idea why they love me, but as much as I try to push them away, they stay at my feet. They would stay in my lap if I would let them.
They follow me everywhere. Sometimes, I go in my bedroom and shut the door just to get away from them. But do you know what they do then? They sit at the door, whining and scratching until the whining and scratching is more annoying than the doggy smell, and I finally get up and let them in.
Not only that, but Shamgar sleeps at the foot of our bed. At my feet, actually. And if he hears any unusual, semi-scary sound, he is right there, ears back, teeth bared, ready to tear into any would-be intruders. He is my protector, keeping me safe from lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! I am happy to say I have not had a problem with lions or tigers or bears at my house. Thanks to Shamgar.
As I recently pondered this annoying, albeit humorous dilemma, I realized something quite profound. The reason the dogs adore me is because . . . drum roll please . . . I love those dogs! I may not like them, but I love them. For you see, love is not a feeling. It is an action.
I feed them. I give them water to drink. I bathe them, and let them in and out of the house when they whine. I take them to the vet. I give them their medicine all wrapped up in a piece of cheese.
Where Annie and Shamgar are concerned, I have set my feelings aside, and acted in the way I know is right. I have acted in their best interests. I have seen their needs, and met them. I have shown them that I care for them, and they have responded.
I am ashamed to admit I haven’t always been so gracious with humans. There are people all around me who need love, who need to know someone cares about them, who need a kind word of encouragement. But sometimes, I don’t actually like those people.
So instead of acting in the way I know is right, I avoid them. I go the other way when I see them coming. I see their needs. But when given the opportunity to meet those needs, all too often I shut the door in their faces.
But that is just plain wrong. After all, I’m not always likable. There are times when I am grouchy or annoying or just plain hurting, and I need others to love me anyway. I am so grateful for those people in my life who have stepped up to the task, and acted not on feelings, but on what they know is right. And because of their actions, those people will always have my loyalty, and my total and complete devotion.
I hate it when I get these profound insights. Ignorance is so much easier. But now, I realize in a new way that love is an action, not a feeling. And while acting on our feelings is easier than always doing the right thing, it is not nearly as rewarding.
I mean, think about it. If I had acted only on my feelings, I might have been devoured by a tiger long ago.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”