Thursday, May 19, 2011

A New Perspective

I was getting ready to leave for a Bible Study last night when it occurred to me that our pup, Lucy Liu, needed to be taken out one last time before leaving.  "Ashton, can you take Lucy out for me?" I yelled across the rooms of our small condo.  "Okay, mama!" he enthusiastically responded. So, as I finished getting dressed I listened for the door to shut and planned to follow him soon as I touched up that one last stray hair.  As I stood before the mirror smoothing my hair to perfection, I heard it.  Another dog.  However, it wasn't one of those sounds that immediately registered in my brain. For instance, when you hear your alarm go off in the morning, you immediately know what it is.  But, have you ever heard something and not realized what you heard until a minute or two has passed? You know the type - we've all had this experience at some time or another.  You'll hear a sound and know instantly that it means something, but what that "something" is doesn't connect in your mind to the actual sound in your ears until later. Well, the instant my "later" arrived, I went running outside and saw what my ears had been trying to tell me.  In the front grassy area of our condo, I saw my six year old son (who, I might add, is lucky not to have gone airborne) trying desperately to pull back on the leash of a relentlessly playful and much stronger black Labrador pup.  Lucy Liu was excitedly trying to break free from the leash on her collar so she could lick, hug, love on, slobber on, and chew on two new friends. The victims of her love assault?  Two prim, and most definitely proper, pillow puffs..

I don't know what breed of dog these fluffy sensations were, and I use the "pillow puff" description, not to be offensive, but because that's precisely what comes to mind when I visualize them.  I envision them being led home to sit on a satin pillow while their owners feed them caviar from a silver spoon.  They look like large Pomeranian movie stars that should go by the names of "Fifi" and "Mitzi," or at least something close to that.  Now, imagine our clumsy, awkward, black Lab pup whose relentlessly loving nature drove her to run like mad towards Fifi and Mitzi.  Well, within a matter of seconds after running out the front door I could see the utter contempt on the face of Fifi and Mitzi's owner.  The minute I arrived on the chaotic scene, he shot me a look that summed up what he felt at that time - "I hate you and your dog."  Harsh?  No, not really.  I've encountered this particular neighbor before and he has always been less than friendly.  On an 80 degree day, I can walk past him and feel the need to put on my jacket.  It gets pretty cold.  Well, as I got Lucy under control and pulled her away from his dogs, I quickly apologized.  "I'm sorry!" I sheepishly said.  With a look that could kill, he shot me an even more disgusted stare.  "I'm so sorry!"  I said again, as heat rose to my cheeks and tears threatened to wet my face.  I was so flustered and filled with guilt, that I didn't know what else to say.  He just looked at us like we were the scum of the earth.  He turned to quickly walk away, but before he got to the corner to turn out of my sight, he shot me one last look of contempt.  "I'm SORRY!" I said a third time.

As Ashton and I headed back inside, I started to feel less guilty and more angry.  "What a jerk," I thought.  I wanted to run after him and tell him how ridiculous it was for him to get so angry and that if he has dogs, he may as well accept that this wouldn't be the last time his precious pillow puffs got love assaulted by a rambunctious puppy.  "You may as well stay inside and avoid the entire rest of the dog population forever," I wanted to yell at him.  I asked Ashton if he ever said anything to him while they were out there before my arrival, but he said that he didn't.  "Dang, there goes my chance to hunt him down and tell him off," I thought to myself.  What am I going to do now - pelt him with insults and judgment for giving us a dirty look?  Tempting though it was, I knew I couldn't do that so I started asking God what He thought.  It was then that I realized what a blessing it was to get just a dirty look absent of harsh words.  Though from his eyes to mine, many harsh words were spoken, my six year old son didn't have to hear a thing.  How grateful I am that this less than friendly neighbor said no hateful words to my son before I arrived, and how grateful I am that he maintained his silence after I did arrive.  I could see that he wanted to scream, but I'm guessing he didn't because of Ashton's presence.  How completely considerate of him.

I remember a few weeks ago I was on a walk around six something in the morning. As I came around a corner, I could see trouble brewing between an out of control puppy, much like ours, and a smaller chihuahua sized dog.  The puppy got free from her young female owner and went running after the smaller dog, led by a man clearly dressed to go into the office.  In his khaki pants and button down shirt and tie, he scooped his small dog up and out of danger, but not without himself receiving a puppy's love assault.  As the larger dog jumped on what was clearly a freshly ironed shirt, he yelled obscenities at both the dog and it's owner.  He delivered his final verbal blow in the form of a loud "dammit" that followed God's name.  Though he saw me and several others walking close by, it didn't stop him from bellowing his loud attack on God, the dog, and the dog's owner.   I remember comforting the flustered girl that day and thinking that I completely understood where the man's frustration came from (he was clearly on his way out to work and just got pawed by a wet and dirty dog) but at the same time I have a seven month old puppy, so I could easily relate to the girl in the situation too.  That was several weeks ago and now that I've been exposed to a dog's angry owner, I am so thankful that the mean looks I received yesterday were just that - mean looks. It turns out my less than friendly neighbor is quite considerate of the presence of children, or at least he seemed to be yesterday.  How fortunate I was to be on the receiving end of my neighbor's anger rather than the neighbor described in this paragraph.   

Get a new perspective on your circumstances and situations.  Get God's perspective.  When you're tempted to be offended by someone's behavior, ask God to show you how He sees the situation and other person's behavior.  We spend entirely too much time being offended by what someone else does or does not do.  Have you ever found yourself in conflict with someone and decided that resolution would occur when and only when the other person does "the right thing?"  "Well, when he apologizes, I'll be happy," or "When she acknowledges that she was wrong, I'll talk to her again," might be things we say.  Or, my favorite - "well, he owes me an apology." To that, I say get over it and move on! You're probably not so perfect yourself that you didn't at some point miss an opportunity to apologize when you should have. Someone may be waiting for you to apologize for something you did ten years ago.  How sad is that!  I would rather forget offenses towards me and live a happy life, independent of someone's "should be" apology.  Don't make the "should be" behavior of someone else dictate your life's happiness. Let God be your happiness!  We need to get over ourselves and forget about what other people should be doing and start focusing on what we should be doing.  If we live our lives waiting for other people to do what they "should be" doing, then we're going to live miserable, frustrated lives because people rarely do what we think they should do when we think they should do it. God gave us each one life to live - our own, and even our life isn't our own, but God's. (1 Corinthians 6:20) so worry less about what others are or are not doing and more about what you're doing.  Remember to ask Him to show you His view of people and situations. You might find that you get offended much less often.  

When we face God on judgment day, He's not going to ask us whether or not our neighbor was nice to us; He's going to ask if we were nice to our neighbor.  Have a great day everyone!

Meet Lucy Liu, the bouncing pup!


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