Jeremy's Mom, my Mother-in-law, owns a cleaning company. If you are a business owner, you know that owning your own business usually requires you to do the dirty work when someone else can't show up. This past weekend she needed help at a moments notice so I volunteered. This girl is always looking for a way to make some extra money so I put on my cleaning clothes and met her at the place of business that needed their floors buffed and waxed. As I pulled up to the place, I suddenly remembered that it was a Cat Hospital. My fear of cats is one that words can't describe. Just looking at a cat causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. Cats are unpredictable, sneaky and appear to calculate their every move. At any given time some cats have been known to jump on you. This terrifies me. Just thinking about it really bothers me. When I got to the front door to meet Charlene, my mother-in-law, she could see the look of terror on my face and reassured me, "They are all in cages, most of them are sleeping. But, they can't get to you." I know what all of you cat lovers are thinking right now. "Come on, they are just cats! They won't hurt you!" Well, it's just one of those things that I struggle with so Cat lovers please don't think I'm a Cat hater, I have the same issue with Dogs. But it's pretty plain and simple, I don't like animals.
After we got started, I didn't have much time to worry about the cats and their eyes staring a hole through my shirt. I was too busy trying to get the hang of a floor machine and that was a chore in itself. Most of the cats were hooked up to IV's or sleeping because they had just had surgery. Slowly but surely I got the nerve to talk to them. On each kennel/cage, a card was attached letting the staff know the name of the cat, the medical condition or what the cat was there for. Some were in the Cat Hospital to be neutered, others to be treated for sickness and some were there for much worse.
Lou Lou was her name. A cat that seemed to be the cutest of them all. She didn't look like a full grown Cat, instead she looked like she was maybe six months old. As I worked on the floor in front of her kennel, she began to talk to me. Shockingly, I talked back. "Lou Lou, I don't like cats so why are you talking to me?" Constantly she meowed over and over again. I know she wanted me to touch her but I just couldn't, I was too afraid. Even the feel of animals scares me and has my entire life so I wasn't about to conquer that fear while buffing a floor. And I have tried a million times to not be scared of animals and it's not something I can shake. So, I continued with my floor buffing. As Lou Lou got louder and louder with her talking, I decided to take a look at her white card attached to her kennel. "Private cremation." What? I couldn't believe it! I yelled out for Charlene asking her if she had seen the card for Lou Lou and she said no. "It says private cremation!" We both were shocked. Lou Lou looked so young, how could she be dying this young? The card did not say what her medical condition was but despite my fear and disinterest in cats, I longed for Lou Lou to live. For the rest of the night, I found myself talking to her and I even sang her a song. I couldn't stand the thought of this poor thing being surrounded by someone like me on her last night to live. Just a cat to many of us, but a companion for someone else.
God speaks to me through a lot of different things. It comes to me in some of the most odd ways but this one is just crazy. I don't like cats. And much to a Cat Lover's chagrin, I have even said something a bit stronger like, "I hate cats!" They scare me, I don't like them and I will never own a cat. So why on Earth would God use Lou Lou to speak to me?! But through the meow of this pretty little cat, God later spoke something to me that I needed to hear.
One of the hardest things for me to grasp in this life that I live is forgiveness. A few weeks ago, I was confronted by my best friend. As I explained my anger towards someone for something they had done, she said something I will never forget. "You haven't forgiven, have you?" As I thought about that question, I quickly assured her that I had but later realized that I hadn't. My feelings about this person were disgust, anger, shock and when I thought about this person I was just plain annoyed at the thought of them. I knew I had to get it right. Life doesn't come with a white card attached to each of us explaining our condition or showing the world our appointed time of death. Anything could happen at anytime and even those that you don't like or those that you abhor, you must love. So I went back to my friend and told her she was right and that I needed to forgive. At times we can't go to that person who has wronged us and hash it all out. Sometimes there is no need and it would not do any good. But that's when we work it out with God and let Him do all of the work without us talking to the one who wronged us. I think this is the toughest way to forgive because the flesh still wants to get that last word. Other times we have to go to someone and talk to them and look them in the eye and tell them, "I forgive you." So I made the appointment and met with this person that hurt me. After explaining my anger and my hurt, the person looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, "I knew you hadn't forgiven me. I could feel you hating me every time I was around."
As I stood in the cat hospital, it took me three hours of standing in a room with cats caged in kennels before I could even look at them. Helpless, drugged, sick cats that I couldn't even look at because they scare me so much. Finally I got the urge and began to talk to Lou Lou. And forgiveness sometimes takes a lot more than three hours to get used to. Forgiveness is a daily choice. Our minds struggle with the past and the things that have been done to hurt us. Even now as I type I am still struggling someone else I need to forgive. It's not easy. When I think about it, I get angry, annoyed, frustrated and I want to get even. But the Holy Spirit reminds me that no matter how much I dislike someone or hate what they have done, I must forgive even when I am NOT in the wrong.
What happens here on earth won't really matter, for we will all be together in Heaven someday. We don't walk around with white cards attached showing the world what our future holds. Some will come and go, some will stay for a lifetime but how long they are truly in our lives, we cannot know. So today if all could see my white card and my condition I know it would boldly say, "LEARNING TO FORGIVE." Just like Lou Lou, I may not know what tomorrow holds but I'm gonna cry out as much as I can so I can touch the world in front of me.