From my 7-year-old badger dog, I am striving to learn and apply these insights.
1. Value of Presence If I plop down on the couch to watch TV, Farley hops up to join me and nuzzles close. When I stroll into my home office to study or to use the computer, he tags along. When I go to the bathroom, he waits for me outside the door. He wants to be with me, and that’s how I know he loves me.
Dwight L. Moody was in his study when his young son sauntered in and stood silently for several minutes. “Well, what do you want?” Moody finally asked. “Nothing,” replied his boy. “I just want to be where you are, daddy.”
Do others sense that I just want to be where they are?
Nothing substitutes for our physical presence. My best friend left his office just to sit with me during one of my worst depressive episodes--Christ with skin on! (Is it any wonder he’s my best friend!?) When someone who lives nearby receives a harsh medical diagnosis…when he or she faces serious surgery…when a grandchild is lost to an accident…when they suddenly lose their job…that isn’t the time to text or tweet or email or even call—it’s the time to go, to be there in person. Even when we don’t know what to say. That’s how others will know we love them.
2. Importance of a Greeting. Every time I enter the house, my tail-thumping, grinning Farley (yes, he grins!) trots to me and jumps up on my leg, pleading to be hoisted up to my eye level. He licks my face and emits a high-pitch whine of pure elation. He’s overjoyed to see me again—even when I’ve just been away a couple hours! My verbal greeting and pat on the head isn’t enough for him. He doesn’t stop his hysterics until our heads have physically snuggled. That’s how I know I’m special to him.
How often do I take for granted the persons I see most often: my bride of 43 years, my son who lives with us, my colleagues at CIU, my friends whom I see weekly at the church campus? If I were half as consistent and as exuberant as Farley when I first meet folks, I’d make them feel a whole lot more special. When we first cross paths on a given day, too often I neglect a warm smile, a discreet hug, a hand on the shoulder, or a gleeful verbal hello. This question is roiling around in my mind: During the first 30 seconds after seeing someone, what do I communicate about his or her value?
No wonder my constant prayer is, “Lord, make me half the man my dog thinks I am!”