What I’m about to say may sound a little odd, but four years ago, God invited our family to test Him in obedience by getting a dog.
Last time I checked, there is no command in scripture that says, “Test me in this–purchase a canine–and your lives will be filled to overflowing.” But as I read more and more accounts of families whose spectrum disordered children gained so much from adding a loving dog to their home, I began to think perhaps God was telling me it was time to consider help beyond medications or techniques in behavior modification. Maybe it was time to let something He created be part of the picture.
Even now as I write this, I know it sounds crazy. How could it make sense to stretch our already stretched finances to add a 60-pound dog to our tiny house crowded with a family of five? Perhaps this was more about my testing God’s patience rather than my testing Him in obedience. I don’t know. I suppose we can make scripture say anything, but I know from personal experience as well as from studies that say so, that humans need nature. (Adam, for starters.) And special children especially so.
So, four years ago, we brought home a nine-pound Goldendoodle puppy we named Miley after my husband’s childhood dog, Mileage. But in the days leading up to Miley’s arrival, my excitement began to turn to fear. What if I couldn’t train her? What if she and the boys didn’t bond? What if I mistook God’s green light to get a dog and would only multiply the stresses related to our family of three teens (two with Asperger’s), two cats, one gerbil and two stubbornly-surviving fish?
The morning we went to pick her up from the breeder, I was nervous. Apparently, so was Miley. After her long car ride to meet us, she promptly upchucked her puppy chow on my husband’s shoes.
And that did it. We bonded.
Our first year, however, that bond was put to the test. We learned that mud and Miley are a dangerous mix, that she excels in counter surfing, paper shredding, and apparently loves nothing more than fresh baked brownies. Preferably, whole pans full.
But we have also learned that Miley is one of the best gifts God has given to our family. She calms us. She unites us. And she reminds us to be kind. She takes us out for daily walks, slowing the pace of our too-busy world, and she reminds us to play (whether it’s catch, fetch or hide-and-seek). And most of all she just wants to be with our a-typical family even when the rest of the world might not be so inclined.
So I tested God—or I tested His patience. I’m not sure which. I prayed for a dog who would make our a-typical family’s life a little better, hoping that, like that child who looks at her father’s open arms, wading in the deep end of the unknown, we would leap and find that He is, in fact, still there to catch us.
And He is.
Question: Is there something God seems to be nudging you to consider for the sake of your family that seems too crazy to fathom? Or have you taken that leap He was encouraging you to take and found that He was, in fact, there to catch you?
–Kelli Ra Anderson (adapted from Divine Duct Tape)
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
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