I recently took a short trip I knew I needed, a self-imposed writer’s retreat with a fellow scribe. We both needed to reconnect to our writing projects after a busy year of having daughters get married and were excited about the few days of no responsibility other than to focus on this goal. Yet as the time to leave approached, I found myself writing in my journal, “I dread leaving Grizzly.”
This is crazy; I reasoned through my pen and my page. He’s a dog! My husband was going to be at home caring for him. He wouldn’t miss a meal or a game of fetch. His routine and comfort would be the same as it always was. He would get MORE tummy rubs. That is my husband’s specialty with the dogs. Was I feeling guilty? Why? There was no reason. He doesn’t keep a schedule of how much time I spend with him. He doesn’t mark a calendar with the days we walk or the days we don’t. He was going to be fine. It was me who wasn’t fine.
“I’m going to miss him,” I wrote.
And right there I saw something Grizzly was bringing me.
Remember back in April when I wrote this line: “What truth is coming to liberate me embodied in this shiny coat and running on these giant paws?”
I like him. I love him. I enjoy his presence in my life.
He’s not just here to do stuff for me. Sure I love to have him walk with me; I don’t go without him, or pepper spray, or sometimes a friend for extra comfort. I’m glad he barks when someone walks up the driveway or knocks on the door.
But even in the moments when he is seemingly doing nothing, like right now as I write this, he is lying on the floor of my foyer staring at me while I sit at my desk. He’s just there, still and quiet and present, just being with me.
I hear the whisper of Jesus saying to this girl, who for a long time doubted Him and feared she wasn’t enough, who measured herself as a Christian by those who seemed to love him more or better than she did: I hear him whispering through these words I write. “It’s not just Grizzly you like. It’s Me. It’s not just Grizzly you love; it’s Me. It’s not just Grizzly’s presence you enjoy in your life; it’s Mine.”
I like Him. I love Him. I enjoy His presence in my life.
I’ve not forgotten what an enormous adjustment it was when Grizzly first came to live with me. The kennel didn’t fit into my home’s decor. The rugs have hair again five minutes after we vacuum. He is in and out of the backyard fountain, soaking wet and slinging water all over me when he shakes. He goes through pounds of dog food and needs time and space to run and play. The changes, the messy parts, I told myself they were worth it because I needed him so much. I did. I still do.
But I also just want him now. He’s worth the effort. He’s worth making the changes in my life. I like being with him. Even when I am not afraid and I don’t need his skills, I like him lying there on the rug staring at me.
I’ve known for awhile that God loves me, that I am His and He is mine, regardless. I know that nothing I do or don’t do ever moves me from his love. What I’ve wondered sometimes is do I love him back? Too often I look at my daily schedule and think maybe I only love my own life and my own way. I asked Him about that.
He took me right to those words I’d written about Grizzly, “I’m going to miss him.” And in seeing my love for my beautiful black dog with his velvety ears, I realized I do love Jesus and I will never have to write those words (I am going to miss him) about Him. I am always with Him. He dwells in me and I in him. When Jesus was getting ready to leave his disciples, he tried to explain that to them; but they didn’t get it and we probably don’t either. He said when he left bodily he’d send His spirit and He did just that.
There are days I feel like I’m missing Him, like I missed Grizzly while I was on my trip, but the feeling is only that, a feeling, not a measure of our relationship or a reality of His presence or absence. He said, “I will be with you always.” And He is.
A brief note of gratitude: Thank you for reading my words, whether you started today or have faithfully read this blog for months or years. You have inspired me to keep going. If you find me on social media, please consider subscribing to the blog at leahslawson.com/home , as the algorithms may outsmart us and prevent my post from landing in your feed. Grace and peace to you.