As of Saturday, a dog lives in my house.
If you know me well, I’ll give you time to scoop your jaw off the floor.
An animal person I am not, and that happens to include dogs. I’m not drawn to pet them, they usually smell, they poop in your yard, and then sit their un-wiped, uncovered pooper hole all over the carpet of your home. I don’t get why that’s okay. For the entirety of my parenting career I have been resolute in telling my children they can have a dog when they live on their own, and sticking to this rule has been easy, mostly because no one in my household wants to make me mad.
So when I briefly and quietly mentioned to my husband I thought maybe our kids needed a dog for Christmas, he jumped on the idea so quickly I had to wonder who the biggest kid in the house actually is. There was precious little chance I could ever take my words back. That’ll teach me.
After days of scanning Craig’s List, my dear hubbs found the perfect dog for our family. We brought her home together, called the kids out ‘to see something’, and gleefully watched as their faces cycled through stupefied reactions like blinking lights on the tree. Eyes bulged (the dog’s included). They fell to their knees, clapped, shrieked, pranced, and nearly burst into tears. A few of them came dangerously close to spontaneous puking. What I’m saying is, we got ‘em good.
Christmastime brings out all sorts of hidden kindness from people. We donate food from our pantries. We buy toys for less-fortunate children we’ve never met. We drop change into familiar red buckets. If we fall all over ourselves to extend generosity to people we don’t know, why is it so darned difficult to be lavishly kind to those we love the most?
Bending against my dog aversion meant I had to swallow my mom pride. I really wanted to stick to my guns for several solid reasons, like the pooper hole reason and the not-having-a-dog-is-cheaper reason, but also because I really enjoy sticking to my guns. Sometimes I don’t feel like giving beyond what I am required. Most times, generosity sounds like unnecessary work.
As we step into opportunities to live generously, our heavenly Father reveals more of His generous nature. Not to say we give cheerfully because we expect to receive in abundance. We give with unusual kindness in response to our extravagantly generous God. He sent Jesus to fix our brokenness. He loves us enough to offer us second chances. He completely enriches us, promising we can continue to mirror His kindness for others without ever running out. The true goal of showing kindness is not to receive a ‘thank you’; the true goal is that Jesus receives all the thanks.
My gift in this dog-giving exchange? Watching my children shower their new pet with love. And hearing them ask if they can take the dog for another walk. I just tricked my kids into getting more exercise! I guess everyone wins.
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