My dog sheds. A lot. I’ve long since given up wearing black with any frequency. I have a lint roller in my house, in my car, and in my office. I regularly pick up what I call “tumble weeds” of fur that collect in the corners and under furniture.
I vacuum weekly, sometimes more, but the fur remains. The long white strands (hence I don’t wear black) weave themselves into the fibers of the couch, the rug, my clothes, friend’s clothes. You can’t come for a visit without taking a bit of fur with you when you leave.
The other day I took my laptop to work to transfer some files. When I opened it, I couldn’t help but smile. There were a few white strands. One was easily brushed off and the other was tucked in among the keys and I had to pluck it out.
And it hit me.
We all leave something of ourselves behind. In every encounter we have with others, we leave a bit of ourselves with them. But if it isn’t fur then what is it? Well, it depends.
When we are hurting, we might leave behind sadness or despair. Or we might even leave behind a new hurt. There is a saying, “hurt people hurt people”. It is true.
When we are insecure we might toss out sarcastic jabs, put down others, or give “leave me alone” looks. We might leave behind hurt feelings and wounded egos.
When we are anxious we might complicate situations, waste energy, and focus on the negative. We can pass along the unease, distrust, and fear of the future to others.
When we are angry we might miss direct our anger at an unsuspecting person or unrelated situation. We leave behind frustration, confusion, hurt, and the anger itself.
When we are impatient and demand our way, right now with no excuses we can leave behind a cold chill and give someone the impression that what they can do for us is more valuable than who they are.
When we are gossipy we might leave behind falsities and ruined relationships. When we are greedy we might leave behind want and emptiness. And the list goes on. In everything we do, we leave a bit of ourselves behind. A bit scary to think about.
But it can also be a beautiful thing. When we are hopeful, joyful, compassionate, tender, truthful, gentle, humble, sincere, diligent, committed, forgiving, affirming . . . just think of what we can leave behind. Go ahead, think about it.
We can leave behind the love of Christ. We can share his love with others. This love is more persistent than dog fur. It can weave itself into the fiber of their very being and restore, lift up and revive.
This Lent may we be more aware of how we “shed”, of what we leave behind with others. May we deliberately strive to pass along Christ’s love to everyone we meet.
Don’t let anyone visit with you without taking with them a bit of the love of Christ!
Lucky for me I have a constant 95-pound, fluffy reminder of this challenge.