Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Love hurts - and cat love hurts a lot.

Jean-Luc is a pain. Seriously. He is beautiful, glossy grey and silky soft. He is also intelligent, affectionate, funny, curious, and active. And he is a pain.

At just under a year old, he has energy to spare. Because he is an indoor cat, he spends an inordinate amount of time racing up stairs and leaping off of furniture. He has impressive tooth/claw skills. I have the scars to prove it. He is the very definition of an ankle biter. When I walk up stairs, he follows behind me, throwing his arms around my legs as I take each step. Then he darts ahead of me on the stairs and flies into which ever room he thinks I am heading for. He torments our other cat, Min-min, and is just biding his time as far as the rats are concerned.

The thing about Jean-Luc is that he doesn't do the usual irritating cat things. He has meticulous litter habits, never climbs curtains or destroys things. He only scratches the furniture when someone is watching and he wants to play. He didn't look twice at our Christmas tree, which I thought was really odd. In my room, he only ever flips my wooden incense holder off of my bedside table, ignoring the lip balm, pens and earrings. I think he just doesn't like the incense smell. Maybe he thinks I can't possibly like it, either.

The truth is, most of the fist-shaking, irritating stuff that Jean-Luc does has to do with wanting to play with us. He loves his people. He is especially attached to me, but he wants to play with everyone. And therein lies the problem. Have you ever seen a young cat play? To a cat, "play" is code for "I'll hunt you down and kill you with my teeth and claws, and then you can do it to me, okay?" Every night, he follows me upstairs (hanging off my legs) and curls up at the foot of my bed. He used to sleep at the head, on the pillow beside mine, but the Vicks and Tiger Balm have pushed him downward. Whatever adventures he has during the night, he haunts my room in the morning, waiting for me to wake up and snuggle with him. When I am in an IC flare, and have to head to the bathroom multiple times a night, he accompanies me on every trip, waits outside the door and leads me back to bed. Even if it means getting up 7 or 8 times a night. When he is not in my room, he is in Grace's. We are his people.

He doesn't want to be a pain. He just wants to play. It's his way of loving us, of making us a part of his life. And because I understand this, I don't mind that he is a pain. He is not mean, or aggressive, or vicious. He is a cat.

He kind of reminds me of my relationship with God. I am a human being,
and I am in love with the God of the Universe. I am compelled to express my love for Him in the only ways I know how. I have no doubt, sometimes my sheer humanness makes me a pain, too. But I also have no doubt that God over-looks any foolishness or messiness that accompanies my efforts to show Him my love, to interact with Him. He understands. He loves me. He proved this when He came down and literally became a human, like me, to show me that He "gets" me. To show the world that He "gets" us all.

Unfortunately, while God understands, too often we Christians don't understand each other. We have a tendency to frown at each other's paltry efforts to show God love, maybe because each one of us is sure that we know how to do it better. We lose track of our own humble humanness. We think that we've got it down, that we're doing it right. We don't understand God's love. We don't get the truth that He sees our hearts, and thrills at the very fact that we love Him. If we're making mistakes, He'll deal with it. Sometimes He uses other Christians to help us, but He chooses the humble ones who know that ultimately, our love for God is what matters most.

I love Jean-Luc very much. He is my little man, and a dear, dear fur friend. It's my job to try to keep him amused and busy in a way that keeps the scars on our ankles to a minimum. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I'm working on it. In the meantime, I love that he loves me, that he chooses me to play with, that the purring coming from the end of the bed is for me. I am choosing to believe that God loves that I love Him, too. He's is helping me, every day, to know how to express my love to Him, as well as helping me to see the areas where I am putting myself before Him, before others. I am grateful when He uses my fellow Christians to help me.

Just remember, if it looks like I or anyone else is making a mess of things, keep in mind that in the middle of this mess of clumsy human effort may be a heart that is simply trying to love a huge, powerful, awesome God. Only God can know for sure. It never hurts to ask.

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