Friday, February 12, 2010

Timing and the Small Matter of Perspective

Since both kids managed to break their fevers the requisite twenty-four hours before the dog show yesterday, I loaded them up late morning to trek down the hill to see and meet the breed we've been pursuing for the next addition to our family.  While there, we met several dogs--many of varying relation to the litter of pups we're intersted in--and local breeders.  We stayed and watched and talked and pet dogs for a couple hours, our time confirming our interest in this particular breed.

Later in the afternoon, after the kids had rested at a friend's place near the complex, the three of us enjoyed a treat at a coffee shop: a non-fat, no-whip mocha for me, a "special milk" (cold milk with a pump of raspberry syrup) for them, and a pastry to share.  We sat at a small, round table and colored as we enjoyed our goodies. 

We had been there about fifteen minutes when Abby suddenly looked at me, concerned, and said most sincerely, "We forgoht to geh uh dohg, Ma-ma."

It was just about the cutest sentence I've heard her say.  Like suddenly she realized nothing had changed.  She was fully convinced that we had managed to overlook this monumental task.  In her mind, going to see the dogs meant we were finally going to bring one home after what must seem to a two-year-old like an eternity of talking about it.  I tried to explain that we went to see the kind of dog we're interested in but that the actual puppy we're going to bring home is still too little to leave its mama. I don't know that she understood, but she accepted my explanation and returned to coloring circles in her notebook.

Poor thing.  It's hard enough for Josh and I to be patient with the process as we wait for the pups to grow and the temperaments to be discovered and the timing to work out and the stars to align.  But we know how important it is to do this right, to make sure we bring the right dog into our family at the right time.  And we have an understanding of time, of process.  A few months to us is a blink, or at most a yawn, in a life that's already numbered in decades.  For the kids, however, it's a very, very long time.  And as much as we try to explain the process, I'm sure it still sounds vague and uncertain and indefinite.  Perspective is everything:  "Mama, this is taking forever.  Did you forget how much we want a dog?"

I imagine this is comparable to the way we perceive our lives in the scheme of eternity.  Everything to us feels so weighty, uncertain, vague, indefinite--and certainly takes much, much longer than we would like.  Outside of time, however, God must see our lives as a blink.  And as much as He tries to assure us that He's got it under control, that everything will work out in His time according to His plans for our good, as much as He asks us to trust Him and simply rest in the knowledge that He's handling it, we grow impatient, confused.  We assume He must have forgotten, or worse, doesn't care.

So we raise our head one day, feeling the acute absence of what we want, and say, "Hey, Creator of the Universe, Maker and Sustainer of All Things, Alpha and Omega--we forgot __________ [insert the most important thing in life at the moment]."  And I imagine He must look at us kindly and warmly, with all the fondness and empathy I felt for Abby in that coffee shop, and attempt to explain it to us, though He knows our minds can't always conceive of His plans or ways or understanding--in parables about sparrows and lillies, in miracles small and large, in demonstrations of mercy and forgiveness and grace. 

And when that fails, he offers Himself: the incarnation of Love in Jesus, so that even if we don't understand, we can trust.  We can leave the mysteries of time and longing and fulfillment in His hands and go back to coloring in our notebooks, trusting His intentions toward us are always good, believing His desire is to give us the desires of our heart.

So, sweet Abby, we have not forgotten to get a dog.  In fact, we are doing everything in our power to bring you and your brother the very dog that will best satisfy your hopes for a furry friend, because we love you.  It takes time--a seemingly long time--but we think it will be worth the wait.  Though the delay doesn't make sense right now, one day it will become clear. 

You can trust us. 


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