“Love is patient and kind…
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful…
Love bears all things… endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4,5,7
I’ve been owner or part-owner of eight cats in my life. Two (Sam and Sid) I barely remember, because I was young. And one (Misha) was really my sister’s cat, so I was more of a roommate. One (Chelsea) became my parents’ cat more than anyone else’s, which leaves four that I consider “mine”.
Misty and R. Dogspot (I really can’t explain that name, but she wore it well, believe me) were mine when I lived at home, and made the transition to married life along with me. They got along well, but they were very, very different from one another. Misty was a soft grey all over (hence her name), very silky and very slender. She was part Siamese and had a high-pitched meow. R.Dog (as we called her) looked like Tin Roof Sundae ice cream: the colors of chocolate and vanilla and peanut butter. She was a more plush kind of soft. You could dig your fingers into her fur and find that very rewarding. But as my daughter told our neighbor when she was very young, “We have two cats: a soft one and a brown one.” (ouch, right?)
Their biggest difference, however, was their personalities. R.Dog was the model cat. Cuddly, easygoing, well-behaved. Never did her business in the wrong place, and if she happened to have a hairball, she would actually warn me first with a funny, pathetic little meow, so I could move her so she didn’t puke on the carpet. Very considerate of a cat, really.
Misty… well, almost everything I didn’t say about R.Dog. She was more standoffish, and did her business in a lot of places that weren’t her litter box and look you right in the eye while doing it. I loved her, because she was my pet, but she didn’t make it easy.
After they were both gone, we had a little hiatus from cats. My husband, who is a cat-lover, had had it up to here with having to have the carpets shampooed. It took him longer to “be ready” than it did me.
When we got another cat from the shelter, my choice surprised me. I wanted someone who looked like R.Dog: pretty colors and an interesting pattern. But the one that “chose me” was Hazel. She looked black at first glance, but in the sunlight she was a deep chocolate brown. Fur like a mink. She was about seven when we adopted her and she melded right into our family ~ dog and little kids and all. She never hissed, never scratched, never bit. She wasn’t cuddly right away, but she became that way, with all of us. Almost every day, especially when it was cool outside, she could be found in my daughter’s room, in a patch of sunlight. She was gentle and talkative and purred like a motorboat.
We still miss her.
Luna joined our family about a year and a half ago. She’s a strikingly beautiful girl, I think. Black with white in an interesting pattern on her front paws and face. And gorgeous green eyes. She’s not as cuddly as I’d like her to be, to be honest. Often, in the evening, she sits on the back of my chair, but that’s as close as she wants to be to any of us. And she doesn’t really like to be held. We do anyway sometimes, but only for a minute or so. She definitely lets us pet her, but sometimes that can be painful as she turns it into playtime, often without warning.
She seemed a cuddlier cat when we met her at the shelter, but to be fair, she probably didn’t get a lot of attention there, and she wasn’t living with a dog, which she is now.
All this to say that she doesn’t love me the way I wish she would. But that’s because she’s Luna. She’s not Hazel, and she’s not R.Dog. She has the personality God gave her, with the quirks and characteristics that entails. Loving her (the feeling) means loving her (in my actions) the way she wants to be loved. On her terms.
I’m talkin’ cats here, but I’m talkin’ people, too. There are a lot of different ways to show people you care about them, but the most important way to love them is the way they want to be loved. And it’s not always easy. I can’t even figure out the “love languages” of some people close to me, but that doesn’t mean I love them all the same. I respect them, I honor them, I show them affection, in very personalized ways.
The relationship I have with the Lord is, obviously, unlike any other relationship I have. But it is also completely unique from the relationship He has with anyone else. Which is true of you, too. He created you; He knows you; He loves you completely. He loves no one more than He loves you. If you were the only person on earth, He would have died for you. Have you ever waited while your child runs toward you for a hug? You hold your arms out as wide as you can, even to hug only one child. He held out His arms as wide as He could, even to save only you. Only me.
And you know what? We’re not that easy to love. We’ve got our little “quirks,” right? We reject Him, ignore Him, take Him for granted. We ask Him and tell Him and then wonder why things don’t go the way we want.
It might seem like He’s not loving us the way we want to be loved. But He loves us the way we need to be loved. Always has; always will.