On Loving, Difficultly

Luna came to us in July: her hair matted, her skin dry, her eyes gleaming, and her purr– loud. When Jacob picked her– or we should say when she picked Jacob– she hopped in the box, ready to go home. And we welcomed her: a place of warmth and love and apparently an endless supply of Fancy Feast. According to the shelter, she got along well with other cats, and was even kept in a pen with two others– so Jacob logically assumed she would get along with ours.

At first, things were fine. There was the standard hissing and growling and grumpiness as one would expect when the interloper arrived. Luna– she was nonplussed. She didn’t shyly acquiesce to the other cats and their long-held bastion– no– she owned the house. She perched pretty wherever she wanted. She paraded her (newly glossy) black fur wherever she wanted. She ate out of all the bowls. She used all of the litter boxes. She kneaded all of the blankets. She gorged on all of the treats.  This did not sit well with the others. This did not sit well at all.

So then, they started fighting. Luna became more and more aggressive, even lashing out against me one night. She started chasing and lunging and clawing–

We thought it would be best to give her away or take her back to the shelter.

And we were set to do that.

But I couldn’t.

All I could think about was her purr, her now non-matted coat, the way she would rub her head on the top of my hand (mostly) when she wanted food. Because– maybe she didn’t know when her next meal was coming.

And I know: she is just a cat. But God says in Matthew, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” All creatures are ensconced gently in His care. 

And then I thought about people. It’s easy to love people who are lovable, kind, who fit into our agenda, who are like us. And once, Jesus said: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). If I am honest with myself, I have not and do not love others like I should. Jesus loved difficultly. He loved the sinners and the tax-collectors; He loved the man who betrayed Him; He loved those who jeered and spit on Him as He was led to the Cross; He loved the criminals, the prostitutes as He loves those who worship Him reverently. He loves us when we are difficult, when we are moody, when we lash out, when we are grumpy, when we don’t feel like acknowledging Him, when we are angry at others and when we belittle ourselves. His love is unconditional; He doesn’t discriminate: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:15-16). To radiate and reflect God’s perfect love: what an arduous yet beautiful task entrusted to us daily. 

Luna is doing better now. We decided to give her more time to acclimate to her surroundings and her new companions. We’ve had to keep them separated at times, but when the door is open, the cats stare at each other, inching closer and closer, and Jacob believes that soon they will all be friends. The orange cat snuggled up to my legs is slow to accept any change, but we will continue to hope for the best.

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