Grace and Comfort

December 24, 2012

This last week has been incredibly difficult on a personal level (I haven’t even been able to think about events on a national level because I don’t have the bandwidth). After what I described in my last post, I made the very difficult decision to put my dog to sleep. She was a wonderful dog almost all of the time but with that tiny fraction of time that she wasn’t, she was dangerous. I contacted several dog professionals who I trust implicitly. They told me, with great sadness, that there wasn’t another responsible option.

I wanted a miracle to save my dog. I didn’t get that, but I got a different sort of miracle – I actually felt God with me. There were a number of details that could have been much worse and weren’t. There was not one person who judged me for making that decision. There was not one person who expressed anything other than compassion, love, and sadness for me. No one offered suggestions for what I could have done or should have done.

One nationally known dog trainer/behavioral specialist who bills way more per hour than I can afford and who met me and Rio once made herself available to me by phone and email all week. My dog trainer who loves Rio came with me and held Rio’s paw until the end when I couldn’t handle being in the same room. A friend came over immediately after the incident when I had to deal with the situation. My brother spent the night on my floor to be with me when I had to put Rio down. Other friends texted, called, came over, and helped me clean up her toys. I can’t imagine having to do this without these people – or without the comfort I experienced from God.

This month, besides the tragedy in Connecticut, I have had two friends file for divorce, one lose her mother in a fire, one lose her brother, and several more who are dealing with anniversaries of death. And there was enough grace and compassion for me when I lost my dog.

I’m still very sad. My sister was explaining to my 2 1/2 year old niece that we weren’t going to see Rio any more and she said, “But I DO want to see her.” I do too. But I am feeling the truth of God binding up the brokenhearted, even when it’s “only” being brokenhearted about a dog.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”

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For Those of You Who Pray

December 17, 2012

please pray for me tonight.

This feels like a silly thing to ask for prayer for with all the violence against humans in the world and I have been mourning the Connecticut situation as well. But closer to home while not nearly on the same spectrum, I have an emergency dog situation and she is part of my family.

I’ve been doing really intense training with my dog around her aggression issues because she is really strong and could really hurt someone. And attacks other dogs when she is afraid. She attacked my neighbor’s dog today and wouldn’t let go. In the process, she bit both me and my neighbor on the hand. My neighbor had to get two stitches so there was a police report but since it’s her first offense they don’t mandate anything like putting her down.

However, they don’t know it’s not her first offense. It’s her third, and there were a number of other very close calls. In two of the cases, she bit a person as we were trying to separate them, and drew blood both times. I talked to my dog trainer as well as an dog aggression specialist who is really good and knows her and they both, with much crying on all sides, said that she needs to be put down. They added that I’m the one who makes the final decision and that they’ll support me in any way they can but I think they’re right.

My heart is breaking. I love this dog, and I lost my other dog two years ago and it feels like yesterday. When she’s not aggressive, which is 98% of the time, she is sweet and loving and likes to sleep in front of the space heater and snore. I love her so much. But, while everyone’s OK today, if there had been a child in front of the dog she was trying to attack, things would not be so OK. She could have easily broken my fingers or taken a few off. I’ve never seen her this bad and it was terrifying.

I don’t know if I have the strength to do the right thing and put her down and I don’t know if it is the right thing, although I suspect it is. I know she’s a dog and she won’t know what’s going on. She loves going to the vet and then she’ll go to sleep but then I have to go home without her. Please pray for strength and for knowledge of what to do. And for no guilt.

And I feel like, “Really, God, really?? With all the tragedy in the world you couldn’t leave me my most immediate source of comfort? You couldn’t leave me my dog who I love?”

again, i know it’s just a dog but I love her.


Loneliness

December 13, 2012

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness. Not because I’ve been feeling particularly lonely right now – although singleness does keep staring me in the face during the holidays (you know your thinking is very off when you find yourself wondering if it wouldn’t have been better to be married and divorced by now because at least I’d have gotten to be married.) Instead, I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to be lonely in any situation. This should not be new to me – I’ve been very, very lonely in the middle of romantic relationships, in the middle of parties, in the middle of a college dorm, and in the midst of very good friends.

Maybe it is because of the holidays, but I know a lot of people who are very lonely right now. The friend whose mother recently died unexpectedly. The friend whose brother died years ago and each holiday season is a reminder that now she’s an only child. The friend whose husband left to date men. The friend whose husband left to date women. The several friends who have spouses who are very, very depressed or caught up in addictions and can’t be a real part of a partnership the way everyone would like. Other friends are single mothers and desperately lonely, including the one who thought that having a child would ensure that she never felt alone again.

It’s just hard to be human, and it’s hard to reconcile the reality of our lives with what we thought they’d be, who we thought we’d be with, what we thought we’d be doing, and everything else. Disappointment and loneliness and sorrow seem to feed into each other and are hard to separate.

I saw a woman crying while driving the other day. She was not sobbing, but just periodically wiping at the tears running down her face without stopping. She looked alone – everything about her looked utterly alone. I wanted to do something but we were in our cars and I don’t know what I would have done anyway. I just prayed for her, which was really all I could do.

I remember, at my most depressed, I felt so lonely that I really thought the loneliness was going to kill me. I cried in the car too. Sometimes sobbing uncontrollably and sometimes, like the woman I saw, just not able to stop the tears. I learned to drive while crying, not because I thought it was safe, but because I literally could not have gone on with my life if I hadn’t, because I really truly could not stop crying. I learned to cry through a lot of things – reading, working – because if I gave into the sadness and the loneliness and the black hole, I’d be in bed all day. Functioning while crying non-stop was still functioning.

I feel like Jesus should come into this somehow. I have believed – since I was very, very young, before anyone told me explicitly – that Jesus was taking care of me. I knew to pray when I was lonely and that I was never really truly alone. But I can’t tell people who are feeling alone that they need Jesus. It wasn’t enough for me, and maybe it should have been, but I don’t think so. I think it was something – I don’t think I would have survived the loneliness without knowing Jesus was there, but it certainly wasn’t happiness and light the way songs make it sound, with all I need is Jesus and you make me happy, and you’re all I need, and all these other lyrics that were written by people who have never felt SO. ABSOLUTELY. ALONE. in the world.

It is certainly good for me to remember that other people are lonely – people in all walks of life and all sorts of relationships – because then it’s harder to get into the “If I were just X, I’d be fine” mentality. But I don’t like it. I don’t want anyone to have to feel that bad and sometimes it seems like there’s just too much aloneness in the world.


Mixed Feelings

December 4, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (which can be a dangerous thing).

I keep trying to be OK with being single and it keeps being hard to do. Which is a little strange because I really do know how hard relationships are and how it is very very easy to feel more lonely in a relationship than out of one. But sometimes, I just really miss having that one person who I come first for, who knows me really well, who seems like the perfect match for me (even if I find out later that he really wasn’t).

I have so many things going for me. I have really incredible friends. God has blessed me with a fantastic community and that’s something that a lot of people would really like to have. I have been self-employed for over 5 years now and am still making a living at it! Things are going well. But it’s hard to be single.

I keep wanting to not idealize relationships and marriage – I’ve been miserable and depressed in relationships and happy outside them. I also want very much to trust God and believe that he has what is best for me in store. But it’s something I just keep struggling with.