As Dr. Reynolds entered the room and turned off the light prior to placing his laptop on the exam table in front of us, I knew that the news was not going to be favorable.
Glowing on his computer screen was, for a lack of better terms, an image of Nacho’s insides.
His voice was calm as he detailed the seemingly undecipherable images. He showed us, with concern, how her organs were shifted to the side as a result of the mass that had grown on the other side of her body. He then showed us the images of her lungs where another growth was present.
It was unexpected and unnerving.
Standing there in the darkness all I wanted to do was cry. Nacho has been a part of our family for nearly 12 years. She’s woven herself into the fabric of our lives. She’s loved deeply by us.
As the light once again filled the room; I continued to breathe deep. I wanted to keep the ever-welling tears at bay and to temper myself from tossing my wallet on the table to say whatever it takes. Dr. Reynolds continued to speak with great knowledge and compassion about Nacho’s circumstances; and then began to overlay profound Godly wisdom on top of the situation. A wisdom that illuminated the truth about not only our stewardship of Nacho; but also our stewardship of our own family and finances.
Once we were back in the car with Nacho my mind began to process the news, I finally cried. I am sure those of you with fur-kids can empathize.
Following our drive home, and some candid conversations with the boys, we settled back in at the house and I tried to ‘get back to work’.
Settling in at my desk I pulled up the news and saw the latest Thursday afternoon headline,
“More Than 100 Dead in Haiti From Hurricane Matthew“.
I didn’t cry.
Even right now, residents along our east coast are facing danger and uncertainty as Hurricane Matthew continues to charge forward and the death toll in Haiti continues to climb.
The reality is, every day I read stories of pain, hurt, disease, destitution and death; headlines that I know are ravaging the families and friends of those behind the black and white letters. Most of the time I remain emotionally unmoved.
I will stop and pray. I will donate to those who are serving in meaningful ways. But when I am being completely honest, I’m not always moved emotionally.
Pain is never more real than when it is personal.
That is why I collapsed like a house of cards following our visit with Dr. Reynolds.
I am ashamed to write that I’m more emotionally affected by our sick kitty than I am by the displacement and death of countless souls because of Hurricane Matthew.
Or because of cancer.
Or (insert your own pain or injustice here).
I am not saying that I am some calloused man who is unaffected by the pain of others nor that I’m not allowed feel personal pain in a personal way; that could not be further from the truth. I am saying that as I reflect upon sitting in our car crying for Nacho it has really drawn me to a place of introspection about how I react to the pain of others in contrast.
In the middle of it all, I’m confronted with a conversation Jesus had with a scholar, retold in the book of Matthew. The scholar asked Jesus what one needed to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus pushed the answer back on him, pulling out the response that we were to love God with all we have, and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Jesus went on to ‘paint’ a beautiful picture for us of not only who our neighbor is but of what loving them really looks like.
When we truly love someone as we love ourselves, their pain becomes our pain.
It becomes personal.
The events of this day have flipped on the proverbial ‘Check Engine Soon’ light on the dashboard of my faith and forced me to pause and consider my love for others. It is not that I cannot have emotion for our dear kitty who is very much a part of the tapestry of our family; but am I more moved by my own pain than by the pain of others?
If I am constantly more moved by my own pain than I am by the pain of others then I must ask myself if I am truly loving others as I love myself.
It is not that we have to live as an emotional mess in the wake of the hurt that is all around us, day in and day out; but we should be moved by it. If we are truly loving others as ourselves it should affect us. It should stir us. It should move us. If it doesn’t, maybe it is the dash light flipping on for you as well.
As hard as this day has been to navigate, I am thankful the light flipped on. I want to truly love others, and despite my best attempts I continue to see just how inward I can be. May God continue to give me the wisdom, and the strength, to truly know what it is to love others as I love myself.
PS. As for Nacho, we’ve got a plan in place and she is pretty happy to be back home. We hope she has a lot more living and loving left in her!
PSS. Nacho is no longer in pain, but will live on in the hearts of our family.