2015-12-11 - Cat in a Bathtub
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” I Cor 13:12 NLT
I’ve always been an animal person. Right now, I am blessed to have two four-legged friends who allow me the privilege of sharing their space and caring for them. My cat KC is seven years old. I adopted him from a very loving family in March of 2014. He’s gray, furry, snuggly, and very talkative. Three months later, a one-and-a-half year old yellow Labrador Retriever named Brooklyn joined our family. Brookie is full of energy, loves to chew things, and doesn’t understand that she weighs sixty-five pounds, not five pounds.
These two are both sweet, intelligent, funny, and charming enough to get away with a little more than they should sometimes. They’re both also a tad high-maintenance. Brooklyn and KC both love (and insist on) lots of physical contact, “interactive fun time” with toys, and undivided attention. They often compete like siblings who would prefer to be only children. If the cat wants a belly rub, there goes Brooklyn rolling onto her back, too. If the dog wants to play tug-of-war, here comes the cat with one of his own toys. They actually both like to play fetch. I didn’t know cats did that, until I met this one.
The other day, as I was giving Brooklyn a bath, I became aware of a familiar sound coming from the other side of the bathroom door. KC was loudly and repeatedly expressing his unhappiness at being left out of whatever interesting activity I was sharing with Brooklyn and not him. He was whining in that “I’m all alone out here! Life is so unfair! My feelings are so hurt!” tone he reserves for such situations. He can be very dramatic!
“Trust me, buddy, you don’t want what she’s getting,” I called to him, as I leaned over the tub and lathered shampoo into Brooklyn’s back. KC continued to argue with me. I knew the only reason was because he didn’t know what was really going on. His actions were based on very limited information. I feel confident that, if I’d grabbed him and plopped him in the tub with Brooklyn, he would have changed his mind in a split second. He would have run off and hidden somewhere, and gladly let Brooklyn have all the attention for quite awhile. I thought about it, just to make the whining stop.
KC doesn’t know it, but he should be thankful I was willing to let him cry, instead of giving him what he thought he wanted. I did this because I knew more than he did about the situation. and about what would ultimately be best for him. I was sympathetic to the fact that he was feeling left out, but I was also aware of the temporary nature of his unhappiness, and my responsibility to look out for what is good and healthy for him long-term.
Then, I thought, “How often do we do this with God?” We think we want something (a job, a particular person, or a certain situation) because it seems like it would be so great, based on what we think we know about it. We think about how other people seem so happy with that exact “blessing.” We tell God how much it would mean to us, and may even truly believe it is part of God’s plan for our lives. We keep asking, reminding, and begging God for what we want. After all, doesn’t the Bible say we should ask and be persistent?
Yes, but God also knows the bigger picture. He knows that, sometimes, what we think would be such a great thing for us would not really be that at all. It might even be the opposite. It might be right for someone else, but not for you or me, for any number of reasons. Sometimes, He says “No” because he knows we are asking based on limited information or our incomplete human perspective. God is acting to protect us, even when we don’t realize it and when we react with disappointment, confusion and frustration. Just as I did with KC, God understands everything about the situation well enough to say, “You think you want this, but trust me, if you knew it fully, you would feel differently. I know, and I am preventing this for good reasons, because I love you. I have something else to bless you with, something that will be so much better for you.”
If you are in such a situation, ask God to help you have clarity about whether you are truly seeking His will, or rather trying to convince yourself that what you want is His will, simply because you want it so much. It can be hard to know the difference, and to let go of wanting something that means so much to you. Tell God. Cry and get angry and express your feelings. God will help you to let go, if that’s what needs to happen. He will give you the comfort, peace, and wisdom you need, as you struggle with your thoughts and feelings.
Choose to trust that God knows fully what you only know in part. He has blessings and good gifts to give you, and doesn’t want you to be like a cat in a bathtub. This painful situation will make so much more sense one day. I like how The Message puts I Cor 13:12, because it is so hopeful. It says, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”