by Michelle Meeks
About a month ago, my husband and I had to make a hard decision about our twelve year old dog Bruce. It had only been since last summer that we found out he had nerve damage in one of his hind legs and foot. He could still get around and play with our other boxer, but a few months ago, we noticed he was struggling to get up. For a while, we were able to lift him from behind. He would walk to where he wanted to go, and then lie down. Some weeks later, when we would pick him up, he could only go a few steps and would fall. It eventually got to the point where he couldn’t get up at all. The nerve damage had spread to his other hind leg and foot. My heart broke as we tried to care for him. A week went by with us changing padding under him where he would use the bathroom. If we weren’t in the family room with him, he would howl nonstop until we came back. He quit eating unless it was table scraps, and he could only drink water if we held his bowl for him. The decision was finally made to call the vet and have him come out. We all said goodbye to Bruce as he died peacefully with my boys cradling his head in their arms.
We all grieved. My oldest cried it out for a few days. Our younger son went out to where we buried Bruce every day for a week. He would walk back and forth and talk to Bruce and come in crying. My husband cried, especially when the boys were upset. I tried to hold it in. It wasn’t possible the first couple of days, but as the days passed, I could hide the sorrow. In doing so, I felt overwhelmed with just daily things. I was quick to get mad. I even went to my accountability group and glossed over how I felt. I didn’t really want to talk about it. When one of the girls asked me what was going on, I talked about feeling overwhelmed then got mad at her when she didn’t seem to understand. How could she? I have to admit, I would rather feel anything than the hurt going on inside of me. Mad worked.
God, on the other hand, didn’t agree. I could hear “above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Psalm 4:23). Guard it from the bitterness that was growing. Guard it from the unhappiness that was settling in, the depression, the desire to shut down. My husband even accused me of ruining our relationship! God was calling. I heard Him, but I didn’t want to deal with this sorrow because it hurt too much. As weeks went on, I finally admitted to my husband I was still upset about Bruce. It may seem like such a small step, but for me it was the first step in dealing with what was really going on. One night, I sat on my closet floor after everyone was asleep, and just cried. And finally, I asked God to heal my broken heart. After weeks of feeling so much sadness, I finally felt joy again.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Are you guarding your heart? Is it filled with sorrow, envy, jealousy, bitterness? If so, are you hanging on to these things? Whatever is in your heart, will overflow into your thoughts, your words, your actions. The condition of your heart affects every relationship you have. God wants you to have a healthy heart, filled with Him, so it overflows to others. Would you ask Him to cleanse it, to heal it, to fill it with His love, to make it healthy once again?
Psalm 30:2 & 11 “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”