Now, for the whole world to know; I am engaged to a fine young man from Argentina who I was blessed to be able to spend some time with here in the states this past January. In that time we spent some time at my parents house. My parents have a dog. Her name is Ruby. Ruby has taught us many wonderful things and has made us quite frustrated with other things through the years. Ruby is a fine specimen but her family has made her fat and quite honestly put her at risk for many future health problems. The main problem is that Ruby is not taken on regular walks like she should be. My mother’s arm is weak and her pride too great to be taken on a walk by a dog. My fathers knees are bad, and his preferred form of exercise is the stationary bike. My excuse is that I am hardly home, although even when I am home my patience is so thin and motivation too low so that when I do finally get the urge to run or walk, I prefer to go solo and not have to control a dog. These past few weeks with my dear, sweet, saint of a fiancé in town, showed me something new. Roberto, my saint of a fiancé promised to take Ruby on a walk every day he was around. He held his promise and I affectionately started to refer to Ruby as “The other woman.” I went on some of those walks with Ruby and Roberto (Oh dear! Those names have a nice ring to them!). I watched as Roberto delighted in Ruby. He didn’t try to tame the beast, he just let her be. There was a careless freedom about her and I started to realize all these years there were two ways to walk with Ruby; She could take you for a walk, or you could let her walk.
Often we joke about how you don’t walk Ruby, she walks you. That is to say, she pulls you along and makes it hard to keep up. She is so strong and fast. I took Ruby for a walk today and instead of yelling, and pulling on her leash and trying to maintain her, I let her pull me and I laughed instead. It was freeing to think; she is who she is and there really isn’t anything too wrong with that. She is a dog, she is supposed to bark, and run, and be an animal, I don’t need to try to tame her. We go to a corn field where I often let her run wild. My dad claims that Ruby smiles. I think he is right. I watched Ruby run through the field with what seemed to be a smile on her face and I realized what a disservice I have done to her and to myself. She ran and bit at the snow, she sniffed out tracks. She was made to be excited, and happy to serve her master in retrieving things. We have tried to turn her into a garbage disposal, and a tame type of companion. Watching her be so happy made me happy. It gave me a small sense of gratification in seeing her run like a child without a care in the world. I let her walk, or rather run. Then, she walked with me for the remainder of the way home.
It seems to me that we could say God is that way with us, but I think He calls us to be that way with others. I realized in watching Roberto and Ruby that Roberto is the type of person that looks at others for the good and mirth God placed in them. I have been reminded by my family that Roberto is a wonderful man and it makes me wonder how many faults he has already overlooked deciding to delight in my redeemable qualities.
We often create standards and worlds for ourselves that demand that others fit into them, not that we adjust to fit into others worlds. We have to have things just so, or under our control. Ruby is still a naughty dog that needs correction, but she also obtains qualities and characteristics that will not change despite my many attempts to change her. This is not a plea for coexistence or tolerance or any of the other words society has used to make the profane holy acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of all people even Christians. This is to say that perhaps our love for others is limited by an inability to recall that we are all sinners and all have fallen short of the glory of God. Meaning; what if we learned from Roberto and Ruby and allowed ourselves to be uncomfortable with other sinners, and know that God doesn’t just call us to know that we are redeemed, but to know that others are redeemed as well. God calls us to help our brother to live in that new identity just as we live in our own baptismal identity.