I once read that the most profound lessons often cross our paths at the most unexpected times. A few weeks ago I experienced this truth in the form of a pet contest. I did not expect a simple pet contest to become a deep lesson but that is exactly what I received.
We have a beautiful beagle mix rescue dog named Cassie who has brought nothing but love, joy, and peace to our home. We found her through a series of events best left for another day. Suffice it to say that those events were surely heaven-sent. We all know how much St. Francis loved animals, but other saints such as Basil the Great, Cuthbert, Philip Neri, Melangell, Hubert, Columba, Roche, Cirian the Younger, Chrysostom, and Jerome were all known for loving and appreciating animals as beautiful gifts from God. This lesson, and this contest, all came about as we were about to go on vacation.
God, however, is never on holiday. He does not take vacations from teaching us loving lessons, often when we least expect them.
Like many pet owners, we allowed our love and pride in our pet to cloud what is truly important. At some point in this process, it became more about showing off our dog than appreciating her. This beautiful dog had taught us so much and we were responding with petty superficiality and selfishness.
Through this process we began to realize how much we really cared about and loved our pet. We realized that we did not need a contest to confirm or validate how special and unique this innocent gift from God truly was.
When Losing is Winning
When the contest people informed us that Cassie had been disqualified over a voting irregularity, we became upset, resentful, and even bitter. All that time and effort, and all of that pestering those we knew to vote, had seemingly gone to waste. It did not help that the disqualification claim itself seemed suspicious, nor that the contest seemed rigged in favor of the second place dog.
We lose touch with the genuine truth, the priorities, and the things that really matter in our lives when we fall into this world’s petty validations. These earthly, external validations are not necessary when we have the internal validation of God’s blessings. He touches our lives with a genuine beauty and love that do not need trophies, awards, front covers, or contests. Loving and serving God is a daily blessing that no earthly contest can touch. We need to be reminded of the many daily blessings of God, and how we each take those blessings for granted.
In case we have not noticed, there is injustice, selfishness, superficiality, corruption, and deception in this world. Christ certainly faced these things, and we cannot follow Him without facing them as well. However, we cannot allow injustice to define who we are. Resentment and bitterness only arise to the degree that we validate and play the petty games of this earth.
Our Lord faced and transcended what is wrong about this world with His message of what is right about God. As His followers, we cannot expect to do anything less.
Long before this foolish contest, we had come to see Cassie as a gift from God. One look at her big brown eyes reminded us that we were winners the day God sent her our way, and we did not need any twisted contest to remind us of that fact.
2016, Gabriel Garnica