i had never been so terrified in my whole life.
last fall, brinkley was attacked by a german shepherd while we were running together. we had run along that same street almost everyday for years. at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it’s a miracle he lived that day. after being chased back & forth through busy saturday afternoon traffic he ran all the way home. his pads on his paws were completely shredded off. he had sprained muscles. there were multiple bites on his neck and back. a kind person picked me up as i ran back and forth through the street screaming for someone to help me…for someone to save my dog who i could no longer see. as we pulled up to my home, feeling completely sure my dog had been hit by a car, there sat my sweet brinkley in our front yard. sweaty and bloody but alive.
later that day i went to the home where i thought the german shepherd lived. the home owner apologized and told me her dog only meant to play. i tearfully explained how i thought i’d see my dog killed that day. i explained how their “play time” had cost us $125 and would probably cost more by the time we were done. she very kindly offered to pay when she could. she told me she was sorry that her children had let him out and it was an accident. i wasn’t mean or ugly. i don’t think i was rude but was kind that day? was i forgiving?….
i went back a couple times but no one was ever home. each time i drove by there i replayed in mind over & over again the fear i had that day mixed with a grateful heart that all was ok.
weeks went by. a couple months went by. one day i was running and i felt the Lord tell me i needed to let it go. i needed to get over my frustration about what appeared to me as pet negligence. it was as if i felt she owed me for what happened and for what almost happened. He reminded me she really owed me nothing. i had a wrong attitude in my heart. i too had been forgiven of much much more. and i too needed to forgive. i needed to erase the mental debt i was carrying around in my heart.
i ran by her home and she was very nice to me that day. we talked about being single moms. she told me about her daughter who has a chronic illness and receives occasional treatment at a hospital where i once worked. she asked me how i survived being widowed. i told her the truth…the Lord sustained me and i knew i was never alone. she told me she wanted to have faith “like that”. i was humbled….i told her she that i was sorry and that i no longer wanted her to pay me for brinkley’s vet bill. she told me she was a woman of her word and that one day she’d pay me back. i again insisted that there was no debt….she owed me nothing. and in my heart i felt the burden lift. that awful selfish weight that we choose to carry when we feel someone owes us for something. oddly enough, that debt many times unquantifiable, hardens our hearts and makes us ugly. inside and out.
i wrote a post about it several months ago and placed it in my drafts for another day. it stayed there for quite a while.
meanwhile , almost a year later, i’ve never run with brinkley down that road again. it was our path for years. which explains how he found his way home that day, despite running back and forth through traffic. he & i were both gripped with fear each time we did run…for weeks. i could tell he was always jumpy when we ran. he’s fine now. he doesn’t flinch every time there’s a noise. but me? i think about that day every time i set out for a jog-every time.
last week i cleared it from my drafts. it was titled $125 just so i’d recognize it in my draft list. i realized i long since forgotten about the story and definitely about the dollar amount. i realized that forgiveness had made it as if it never happened.
sunday at church a beautiful dark haired woman with a gracious smile came up to me & said hello….she said, “you don’t remember me do you?”. embarrassingly i said i didn’t. she said “i’m rachel”…still i couldn’t place her face. she then said, “i’m the lady with the dog. i saw you this morning & i have something for you. i’m in a good place now & i promised to be good for my word”. she placed some folded cash in my hand. i hugged her for a long time. she then told me she had been visiting our church for a few weeks. i hugged her again & told her, again, that she owed me nothing. she just smiled & said she had always intended to make things right.
i tearfully walked to my seat beside dan. it was worship time and we were singing one of my favorite songs by matt redman. i tried to swallow the big lump in my throat as i tried to hold in the tears. she probably has no idea what a powerful lesson i learned that day, about forgiveness and letting go. it was as if the Lord was telling me, “paige…i had it covered all along. i just wanted to see how you were gonna choose to handle things. if you were going to hold someone, even if only in your heart, accountable for a mistake or if you were going to let my grace be sufficient for you….and let it go.”
i could hardly wait to get in the car and explain to dan and caroline what had transpired. how almost a year after the scenario i was taught a valuable lesson. how only a few days ago, while i had forgiven rachel months ago, i had erased it completely from my drafts…and from my heart. i reached in the pocket of my purse and unfolded what turned out to be six twenty dollar bills.
i am called to love my neighbor. to forgive. to extend grace. to be kind. it’s so easy to love from a distance. to love through a sweet email sent on my own time, to love someone who loves me well, to love someone ‘far away’.
i want to be authentic. i want who i am on this blog to be who i am at target. i want who i am on a saturday afternoon after spending the day with my sweet injured golden at the vet to be the same person i am on sunday morning as i lift my hands to worship a loving god.
sometimes i wonder if people with whom i come in contact are “real” or if they’re angels unaware.i do believe people come in to our lives for the sole purpose of teaching us. there was a lesson that began for me in november of 2011 and the final chapter of that lesson was a rainy sunday, the last day of september, 2012. i may be a slow learner but i am grateful that i learned to love my neighbor through a neighbor that loved me…