Monday, January 07, 2008

Some Friend

This is Belle, my son Christian’s new dog. Although she is almost 50 pounds she seems to think she’s a lap dog. She also lives under the delusion that our two cats, Lucia and Princess, want to be her friends. Lucia is warming up to Belle a bit. Princess, on the other hand, hisses and arches her back whenever Belle comes within 20 feet of her personal space.

Princess’s new favorite routine is to sit on the highest shelf she can find in order to make herself taller and more threatening. But Belle refuses to give up. She is a needy dog with separation anxiety and wants companionship. She looks up at Princess with her big brown eyes as if to say, “Why can’t we all just get along? I’m really very nice.”

I even went so far as to remind Princess that she has no room to think of herself as superior. “You come from the same background, you know. Same shelter and everything.”

This afternoon Princess and Belle had an inevitable standoff. They met unexpectedly in the laundry room. I noticed, right off the bat that Princess didn’t look quite as confident without the added height that a book shelf provided.

“Not feeling quite so cocky now, are you, Princess?” I teased.

She looked at me like she wanted to hiss, “Why don’t you shut up!”

Then, in one heart-stopping moment, Belle tried to take advantage and step a little closer, Princess made a run for it by jumping over Belle, Belle defended herself against the oncoming attack by standing to her full height, causing Princess to miss the hurdle, and she ended up clawing her way over Belle’s back. Both ran from the scene in a flurry of hisses and yelps.

Now Belle trembles in fear at the sight of Princess. She doesn’t even need to arch her back. But Belle still gives her the sad eyes. She still wants to be friends. Unfortunately, the feeling isn’t mutual and probably never will be. I can’t help wondering, why won’t she give up and just be happy with the idea that Lucia sorta likes her and has come within inches of touching noses with her? Lucia doesn’t hiss half as much (only when Belle tries too hard or barges in when Lucia is getting the affection—see, told you she was needy) and doesn’t have back-mauling claws like Princess does. Lucia is sweet; Princess is . . . I’m sorry to say . . . a little brat. Even when she gets cut down to size as she did in the laundry room, she still cops an attitude around the tender newcomer.

It reminded me of the times in sixth grade when I tried very hard to gain acceptance from the “cool group” in my class even though half the girls in it were snots. Then there was the time in high school dance class when a group of girls snubbed me for NOT snubbing someone else and I still wanted them as friends (again, because I considered them cool, even though, when I think about it now, they weren’t really, only good at making people think they were). And then there was the time when . . . Well, maybe I better stop. This is enough proof that I have a pretty pathetic background when it comes to one-sided friendships.

I almost want to say, “Belle, Honey, you deserve so much better. Give it up.” I’m sure she’ll continue to learn the hard way, as I did. But she is only a dog and I’m an adult human being who knows better. Watching Belle is a good reminder to take the precious friendships that God has sent me instead of attempting to hang on to something that is one-sided, or even damaging. Thankfully, there is nobody like that in my life now, but I’ve had more than my share. Praise God for learning experiences that showed me, “Don’t bother with those that hiss and arch there backs and claw their way over you. You deserve better!”

And so do you!

Cross Posted on my new blog, Worth It! (

Saturday, January 05, 2008

When You Can’t do what You Planned

This weekend we are putting away Christmas decorations. It’s hard to believe that the season is over. It was actually a strange one for us because one person or another has been sick since before Thanksgiving. For most of December the sick one was me! Perhaps you have already discovered this from experience—that when Mom is sick many things fall apart. For us it was our typical Christmas routine.

At first I felt too awful to care about what I missed out on. A few times, however, I felt extremely bummed out. I didn’t have energy to bake cookies for friends or write Christmas cards. I had to skip the choir Christmas party and even the Christmas Eve service. After awhile I decided to avoid wallowing in disappointment and consider the things that I got to do instead.

I didn’t bake cookies for all my friends but, on a day when I had the energy, did dip chocolate pretzels for friends who had helped get my son to and from school, took him to a birthday party, and helped my family in other ways.

I had an opportunity to see that friends and family members really do understand when you are too doped up on pain killers and a brain-zapping infection to write cards. I don’t know why I felt to let off the hook. I would completely understand if the situation were reversed. But it served as a nice reminder. And there was an “instead” here too—the few that I did hand out or send were to very special.

True, I missed out on some fun events, but I also did a lot less running around. I was basically forced to have a quiet Christmas. And you know what? It was kind of nice. I read a book, watch a lot of old movies with my family, played games with my 5-year-old, and had time to reflect.

So looking back the change in routine turned into quite a blessing.

I’m sure you know this already but life often throws unwanted twists. Plans suddenly have to change. Things that we were looking forward to must be cancelled, put off, or enjoyed by others without us. How do we handle it? Sure we mope and maybe even cry, which is completely normal, but what about after that? Think of a time when changing plans allowed you to do something that might not have been possible otherwise. The next time that circumstances change you plans or traditions, pay attention to what you get to do instead.

Happy New Year,

Cross posted on Girls, God and the Good Life