My daughter, Ella, when she was little, asked me one morning on the way home from school, “Why do stuffed animals get ruined the more you love them?”
And when she asked me this I couldn’t help but think of the stuffed animal in question. She was holding up Gracie’s favorite stuffed animal—her sock monkey named Jer-Jer. When Gracie was little, this monkey accompanied her everywhere and was rarely out of her embrace. And he looked it. His arms have been sewed up twice as were his legs, the yarn that was once his mouth is now a black sharpie line, he has holes in his legs and his ears and now has over 17 patches sewed or ironed onto him. He has been chewed on by a neighborhood dog, dragged through the dirt, spit-up on, and soaked with tears.
And though ruined is not quite the word I would use, in a way…it is.
He has been forever ruined by such great love.
And isn’t that the way of God’s love and of the life he has given us? We are so much like a well-loved stuffed animal. As we make our way through each day and week and month and year we are dragged through the dirt and chewed on, we are hugged and kissed and adored, we have holes that are sewn up the best that we can, we’re missing stuffing, and sometimes even our smile.
But each one of us is loved…truly loved. And our patches, and stitches only make us more beautiful…because we have lived.
And when we reach that point in our lives when the end comes, we can either look back at our lives with a frown and say, “it’s ruined.” Or we can look at our lives and smile and know that yes, we’ve been wonderfully and beautifully ruined by a life filled with the heartache and joy, the harshness and softness of real love and abundant life…not always pretty, but always OUR life.
This is how I see a lot of those used-up, tossed-out dogs in shelters and rescues. They have their own tears and holes and unfortunately their backstories are often not filled with any sort of love and kindness…but that doesn’t have to be the end of their story. We can love them not in spite of their rips and tears, but love them more because of those scars and quirks. We can ruin them with love.