Random Blog Clay Feet: March 28, 2008
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Faith like a Cat

My cats have given me pause to think about my own attitude and relationship with God. As I lay in bed this morning working up the energy to get up and going one of our oldest cats continued to pester me to give her affection. She would scratch at my shoulder wanting me to caress her and pay her attention no matter how sleepy I felt. Once I started giving her what she wanted she would settle down inside my arm with her head on my shoulder and soak up all the attention she could extract from me.

This cat exhibits a very deep trust in me unlike any other cat we have right now. She enjoys not only being petted the normal ways but thoroughly relishes having her chin scratched and then rolls over to have her stomach and chest rubbed from top to bottom.

When she gets into this mood she also enjoys me massaging her shoulders and legs as she relaxes and allows me to move them freely with very little resistance. She just soaks up all the affection and rubbing that she can get and completely allows me to do whatever I want in our interaction.

I thought about this trust that she has in me as we interacted this morning. She exhibits implicit trust and faith in me that I will not hurt her, that my intentions are good and that we are close friends. As a result she is able to receive far more affection and interrelate with us much more freely than any of our other cats are able to do.

In contrast, our youngest cat is a long ways from having a stable relationship of trust with us. Although she certainly enjoys receiving attention at times and even desires petting, she has so much fear and distrust inside of her that our relationship seems more one of exploitation at times than of friendship. I have to admit that I have seen much improvement over the last year but she has a very long way to go before she can receive much of the affection that is available for her.

She will sometimes come up onto my lap while I am reading or typing in the morning and settle herself down to get some petting. But I have to be extremely careful where and how I pet her for she is like a little hyperactive tiger that is often quite unpredictable. A few minutes ago she was sleeping in my arms curled up and purring while I was typing looking very peaceful and calm. But I know that the motion of moving my hands beneath her is an irritant for her and she likely was internally about to come to the end of her very short fuse.

Sure enough, she suddenly lost patience with me and started biting the palm of my hand and going into one of her dangerous fits of rage that I am too familiar with. I am usually a pretty laid back person but there are times when my own fuse can run out rather quickly and this was one of them. I decided that there may need to be times when she doesn't get away with this kind of behavior without consequences and so I held her from escaping quickly (as she usually tries to do after such an attack) and gave her a sharp swat before she made a hasty exit. She can now spend some time alone until she changes her mood again which is her usual pattern.

Many people who know this cat believe she is incurably psychotic and there is no hope for her. I believe differently and think that over a lot of time and with the right mix of affection and discipline along with some very needed maturity from age that she could yet become a much more stable and reliable friend. But she is presently missing out on most of the advantages that she could be enjoying with us and may even herself desire, because of her unpredictable moods and our need to keep a careful distance from her claws most of the time.

The reason I spend time thinking about this this morning is not so much to talk about my cats as it is to reflect on how much they are teaching me about my own relationship with God. From my perspective I sometimes think I have a pretty good relationship with Him and that He shows me affection that makes me feel very special at times. I'm sure that is true, but at the same time I am seeing, from the descriptions above, that it is very likely I am too much like the later cat than the former in my way of relating to Him. This younger cat may actually think that she has a pretty healthy relationship with me and that we get along just great most of the time. That is true compared to many other people in her life, but she has no idea how much better and deeper it could be if she were not so paranoid about life and everyone around her. She is so suspicious that others might be out to hurt her that she keeps her defenses at a very high level all of the time which does not allow very much intimacy and interaction that we could be enjoying together. Her life is governed by many fears and it severely limits many of her options and opportunities.

I suspect that God may very well feel the same thing about me. While I may view our relationship as something very positive – and it is as far as it goes – I likely have very little comprehension of how much deeper and closer He wants it to be if I would just let go of my resistance and mistrust whenever He tries to do things in my life that I misunderstand. If He tries to move me around into a different position so that He can access me better I am liable to complain or pout or resist His plans. He may allow me to have my way many times but the results are much the same as the tense but slowly growing relationship I have with our youngest cat.

I want to change that situation. When I think about the faith that our oldest cat has and the resultant enjoyment we are able to share I also want to have that kind of faith with my Father in heaven who has far more exciting plans and feelings and opportunities for me to enjoy than I can ever imagine. But my lack of faith causes me to often use my claws to keep Him at a distance when there is really no reason to do so. The only reasons for these fears are the lies about Him that still lurk in the dark recesses of my mind causing me to doubt His goodness and His love for me so that I try to stay in control of my own life instead of trusting Him fully to shower His love and blessings on me.

Lord, teach me to relax in Your arms and just be ravished in Your love like our mature cat does with us. Thank-you for using her to show me Your heart a little better today. I don't know what it will take to remove these fears and doubts about You from my heart, but do whatever it takes to discipline and transform me so that I can be more compliant and safe in Your embrace.