His kind had a reputation for being dangerous. I had seen the stories on the news. I doubted... no I feared getting him would be a grave mistake. No one listened. They brought him into their home anyway. Now I had a decision to make. Should I let fear rule me or befriend the beast? I chose the latter.
Four years ago my cousin decided to get a pit bull. I was very concerned about this because my Grandma was living with her at the time and pit bulls have a reputation for being dangerous. I was afraid a dog that size would knock Grammy over or hurt the children. I was concerned about bringing my own children to visit my Grandmother with that dog in the house. They insisted that they would raise this puppy to be different and they got him anyway.
If I wanted to visit my Grandmother I needed to get to know this dog and so did my kids. I swear the dog must have known from the start that I wasn't sure about him. He followed me everywhere I went. I think I may have been the only one he didn't pee on! Not only did it seem he was out to capture my heart, he had decided to prove me wrong. The one person I was most concerned about him hurting was Grammy because of her health and her age. Funny, Grammy was the one person that he always obeyed!
King has grown quite large in recent years but he doesn't seem to realize it. We see eye to eye when he stands on his hind legs. He seems to think that he can still fit his whole body on my lap. He has to try at least once whenever I visit. Once he realizes it's not working, he puts his front legs across my lap and lays his head on my chest. We have become great friends which has nearly given my two uncles and my dad a heart attack on more than one occasion. It turns out they have some of the same fears I once did. I hope he'll win them over too someday, but I must say that it's fun to see their facial expressions when King and I play together!
I share all of this because I misjudged King in the beginning. I had preconceived ideas and fears concerning him. I would have missed out on so much joy if I had let those concerns and fears rule me. It has me wondering...how many times do we do this with the people we meet in life? How many times do we decide not to bother with someone because they look differently than we do, smell differently than we do, or think differently than we do? Maybe we avoid certain people because they look grumpy and unapproachable. Perhaps, they have a reputation of being difficult or judgmental. These are all judgments we might make from the outside looking in. The inside of that person might be different. Even if the inside of the person isn't any different, we need to see past it and love them because God created them.
We miss out on so much when all of our friends look the same, act the same, and think the same. Variety is important. Some of the people God has used the most to impact my life don't look or act anything like me. They come from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, and social statuses. My life is richer for having them in it and I wouldn't be who God is making me to be without them. God uses our differences to sharpen us, to challenge us, and to grow us.
Before King I had never met a pit bull. I thought I knew what the breed was all about but I was wrong. I was comfortable with many other breeds of dogs because they were familiar to me. Isn't that the way it is with human relationships? We get comfortable with what we know and what is familiar to us. It's our fear of the unknown, the different, or the new that keeps us from looking past first impressions and doing life together. We miss out on so much when we live in the comfortable. Even Jesus enjoyed fellowship with a variety of people. He spent time with fishermen, tax collectors, and the Samaritan woman. Shouldn't we do the same?