Yesterday, I shared the sad and tragic story of how my sweet, fluffy dog went from this:
My three-year old niece said she looked both "funny" and "naked". My sister Abby texted me and said, "Poor Neely, she looks like a skinned chicken!"
Poor Neely indeed. She has lost, arguably, her most beautiful and definable feature: her curly, fluffy hair. When we first arrived in Minnesota, people would stop us on the trail by our apartment to comment on how beautiful she was. I tell you, I was one proud mama. Now, we get around the loop much faster, because no one's stopping us to comment on her girlish good looks.
Here's a little factoid for you: Neely is actually from Minnesota; this is her homeland! I was emailing the breeder to schedule a visit for her to run around with some of her relatives, but in light of the tragic recent events, I had to email her to ask if we could push it back as far as possible. When we journey out to the land of Irish Water Spaniels, I want Neely to feel as much as of an Irish Water Spaniel as she possibly can.
The good news? Hair always grows back! Eventually, Neely will make a full recovery!
And yes, I'm fully aware this is just a dog, but I had no idea this little trip to the "Wizard of Paws" would be teaching me so much. In addition to thinking about heeding the warnings from the Holy Spirit, I've also thought a lot about our identities and what we use to define ourselves.
No, Neely can't talk, but if she could, I bet if you asked her she would tell you that her beautiful coat is her most flattering feature. When she got in the car after the massacre, she was fully aware that something was different and it was not good. So what do you do when all of a sudden, the feature or attribute you put so much weight on suddenly disappears?
The job title you've worked hard to earn goes away, your glorified "temple of a body" just can't seem to bounce back after having kids, your beautiful hair color begins to turn grey, your "perfect children" that helped define you as a "perfect parent" suddenly start to show a few more imperfections than you'd like...
It's so easy to allow ourselves to be defined by our looks, our talents, or our accomplishments, but ultimately all of these things are fleeting. If we're trying to stand up on them, we're going to fall, because at the end of the day, they're not solid. Remember the story of the foolish man and the wise man? The wise man who built his house on the rock was able to withstand the storms. And similarly, we need to be looking to build our lives on a solid foundation, so that when some of the things we hold on to so tightly fall out from under us, we have the strength and perspective to keep moving forward.
By standing firm you will gain life.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.