Friday, September 23, 2011

a timeline of true love

Bear with me while I tell you a story - it's the last story I expected to think about this week, but this is what happened:

Monday a week ago: I had a very difficult, but significant day. A lot of tears & pain. It hurt and was not a fun one.

Tuesday: As I was journaling about the day before I prayed and asked God for a little surprise. Just something that would be a tangible reminder of his love for me. Of how He loved me. Little did I know...

Wednesday: That afternoon I felt a prompting to make a phone call (we had just recently started looking for a dog for our family) and I talked to a breeder who was selling mini Australian labradoodles... this was the dream dog. The perfect one for our daughter's allergies, but one we knew we could never, ever afford. Due to a personal crisis the seller had just marked down the dogs she was raising to one fifth of the price. We went to see them trying to not get our hopes up; we were inevitably besotted and we came home with a very cuddly, very cute surprise! (Thanks to the kids pitching in their savings and my parents playing early Santa.)

Thursday: We all fell head over heals in love. Me most unexpectedly. My husband said if he had known I would have this much fun & love her this much, he would've bought us a puppy years ago. But with the kids' ages & stages in life - the timing was perfect.

Friday: The dog had been dry-heaving at night since we brought her home and we kept thinking it was fear from leaving her litter. But it was only sporadic and we all were bonding with her and she was clearly loving our home. The kids were on cloud nine. When I woke up that day though, I felt a persistent urgency to take her into the vet. We found out her vaccinations were late (the breeder was in crisis), she needed a thorough exam and - surprising us -  we were offered a promotional of a month of free pet insurance. Both my son and a little inner voice kept pursuing me to sign up for it right away, so I did.

Saturday & Sunday:  We were supposed to leave on Friday for a week-long family vacation. We had postponed it after getting the pup to have time to get ready. We haven't been away alone just as the four of us in a couple years. But the place we had been going to stay didn't want a dog there. Understandably - and we knew there was that risk when we got her. The hard thing, though, was we had been offered the place to stay for free and now we didn't have a way to take the kids somewhere else. There was a lot of acceptance (after all we did have a puppy!), but still real disappointment.

Monday: The puppy was vomiting blood & clearly in distress, we went back to the vet had some scary tests done - she checked out okay and we came home with a lot of medicine for a painful puppy tummy.

Tuesday: She seemed much, much better. We all took a deep breath and were grateful that was over!

Wednesday: Something was not right. Both my husband and I were worried we had bought a sick puppy. It was turning into a rough week with real confusion and disappointment.

Thursday: Our puppy looked like she was having convulsions and was in a great deal of pain. We took her in, she was X-rayed and found out she had a large impassable rock in her stomach. She had immediate surgery and the vet said she probably wouldn't have lived through the day without it.

As we drove home from the vet - with plenty of tears and worry - one of my kids expressed how it seemed like with every good thing that happened you had to protect your heart from it turning into a sad thing. Our little gift was sick. Our vacation had to be cancelled. What had we done wrong? Didn't God care about that? Why would he give us gift that could die? A gift that hurt?

It suddenly dawned on me that my child was voicing my exact thoughts I had been feeling the Monday before. The day I asked God for a reassuring surprise from him. But our surprise was now in surgery. It got quiet in the car as I paused to think - I wasn't about to address these deep questions in my child with pat answers. I needed answers, too. And I knew that helping my child - and my self - remember that protecting out hearts from disappointments is a bad road to start down, was very crucial.

My husband spoke up and pointed something out - if we had left on vacation as planned we wouldn't have been given pet insurance. If we had left on Saturday & then realized the puppy was in so much pain, we would've had to possibly spend a couple thousand dollars to save her life or lose her  - all while away from home.

What we saw as disappointment may have been a God's way of saving our little gift's life. And in a big litter, puppies who are a bit slower and in pain don't really get noticed as quickly. Maybe her coming to our house with a big rock in her belly causing her this hurt, was actually the perfect timing for us to take care of her and help her get to a doctor to save her life. (This turned into a short conversation about how much God loves puppies, too. On purpose!)

Self-protection, we tried to explain, is the opposite of trust. It is, even more significantly, the opposite of love. It's extremely tempting - but it has huge consequences. Whether it's in marriage, with your siblings, with your friends - life's disappointments and phone calls with bad news do stab our hearts and do hurt us.

But sometimes we get the privilege of seeing a bigger timeline and realize that what we perceive as painful - is actually a means to saving our lives. Our hearts. And sometimes we get reminded that we are never in control to begin with. We are at the mercy - thank God - of a very kind God. One who loves puppies and us - but one who also wants our attention and wants to protect us in ways we don't always want to submit to. Or like. Or agree with.

But that's still His heart.

It may sound silly when talking about a little apricot puppy, but I so love how C. S. Lewis addresses it:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

And that was my surprise this week - a reminder that lavishly, besottedly and without any self-protection is exactly how God loves me. 

{Emma is still at the vet hospital - but we are hoping to bring her home this weekend.}

{39/365 is about this being the last year of my fourth decade. 
I am watching for God in my day-to-day life & I am writing about the gifts He gives me in this season. 
I am listening for His daily, beautiful presence in my years.... all 39 of them and counting. 
This week I have been thinking about how giving unconditional love is tied to trust. And knowing how lavishly we are loved first. 
Please feel free to join me. }


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post on many levels. I'm hoping Emma comes home healthy and happy again.

emily wierenga said...

you are so lovely. i hope you know this.

Heidi said...

You have no idea how this touched me today. You are a blessing, Misha. <3

Misha Leigh. said...

Thank you, ladies. Each of you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Misha.

Shelly Miller said...

Love this story Misha, on so many levels. Glad you shared it here.

Andi Mae said...

Oh, Mish! I am so sorry to hear about everything you guys + sweet Emma had to go through last week! What a crazy, crazy story. I am so thankful that everything turned out okay and that the Lord's timing was so perfect. And every single time I see a picture of your sweet puppy, I think to myself how very loved she is by all of you! You can tell on your faces that she makes you SO happy!

This post was so beautiful and good for me to read- and not just because it updated me about Emma. I was so overwhelmed and convicted about how I have guarded my heart, especially the past couple of years. It is so hard to let go and just trust- both God + people. Thank you for sharing this. I love you, dear friend!