It’s easy to say, and tough to walk out. There’s no other way to truly love except unconditionally. Love is NOT love if there are clauses and a long string of “I’ll love you IF’s…” My kids reminded me of this today. Leave it to kids to flip the tables and teach you the lessons you’ve been working so hard to instill in them.
We adopted a new little girl to our family this summer. Her name is Kori, short for Korina. She has silky black hair and big brown eyes. She’s adorable.
Kori, by the way, is a little dog. She is as much a full blooded member of this family as anyone. The kids were already in love with our first dog, Doogie. Drake and Doogie grew up together, napping on the couch and watching the girls go off to school each day. Drake was just 3 when Doogie came home from the shelter to live with us. They’ve had 6 long bonding years and a lifetime of memories.
Kori, however, didn’t get that same joy. She was 6 years old when we met her. She had not been loved since she was a 3 month old pup like Doogie. She had been abused and battered, was found starving, and had over 25 ticks covering her tiny body. She was terrified of us, but warmed to me quickly. We took her home and slowly she began to trust. She has never once nipped or snarled. Instead she learned not to cower when approached, knowing that no on here would hurt her. She began to wag her tail, jump excitedly when we came home, and to play with Doogie endlessly. She now is so fully in love with us, she follows us around all day, wanting to be in the same room with us.
Kori has brought to our home a kind of love that the kids had not experienced. It was one where she had to learn what unconditional love meant, and we had to understand that for her, love was trust earned. It was daily proof that we meant what we said, meant what we did, and daily went about acting it out. She had to learn we were genuinely going to always be here, and love her the same each day.
Kori has had continual issue adjusting to learning how to ask to go outside, however. Her fear and timidness still keeps her from asking. So we have to anticipate her needs ahead of her needing them. We also have to show her grace and forgiveness if it doesn’t always work out the way WE would plan or like it to. But we don’t love Kori only IF she goes outside in time. We love her. Period.
This has actually been a huge step for me. While I seem to be able to work this out with my kids, when it comes to the dog, I tend to get frustrated and say things in the moment that the kids interpret as “I love you IF” instead. They repeated back to me a conversation where they believed we were getting rid of Kori because she has gone potty in the house. I was confused. But when I had said, “Kori, I’m gonna take you back to where we found you if you don’t start figuring this thing out,” well, can you blame them? Yeah. I put a huge IF in the place of my FOR ALWAYS love spot.
So we had a conversation tonight. I promised that we’d never return our little girl because she has some learning to do. We can deal with a long learning curve. After all… God has never given up on me. And let me tell you, I have a HUGE learning curve. I am forever humbled that God has fully promised that no matter how many times I mess up, He will be right there waiting, ready to help me clean up my messes. And wow if LIFE isn’t often just a mucky mess!
Thanks, God, for showing us how to love by first loving US so completely and unconditionally, that you sent your own Son to die for our mistakes and our huge stinky messes. If you can do that for me, I can continue to help my kids better understand your love by showing it to our precious little Kori. I knew you sent her to us for a reason this summer. Her lessons to us have been overwhelming and precious.
The next time you wonder if the mess you’re in can be cleaned up, remember Kori, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, God’s there waiting to help you clean it up and try again.