I sit next to my cat while she eats. I stroke my hand slowly on her head as her tail wraps against my leg. She came to our family about seven years ago when she was a mere six months old and fit almost entirely in the palm of my hand. Although we do not speak the same language, over time I have come to understand her simple message, “Love me. Nurture me.”
I comprehended her requests early in our relationship, but for much of our time together I have misunderstood our roles. I ask myself why I went to the animal shelter to find a kitten, and I receive a clear answer: I wanted a cat to love and keep me company. For years, I was resentful toward her. She only comes near me when she wants food, complains if I don’t meet her “demands”, gets frustrated (i.e. tries to scratch me) if I pet her too long or in the wrong places, and refuses to obey my rules and commands. “I must have adopted a defective cat”, I’ve told myself many times. “Why can’t she just sleep in my lap for hours and let me hold her. She only knows how to take love not give it.”
Recently I realized the error in my views. She is not my prisoner or slave. Was she created to follow my wishes and soothe my loneliness? Perhaps, I was created to meet her needs rather than the other way around. Could it be that God does not want her to serve me, but rather for me to serve her? I decided to change my perspective. Now, I look at her as an opportunity to be of service to another life. I listen to God for instructions on how to love and nurture her without any demands in return.
I ponder how my cat’s relationship with me may be similar to my attitude toward God. Aren’t I constantly asking Him to love and nurture me? Thankfully, He does not need me in any way and asks for nothing in return because, like my cat, I have nothing to give. I too am dependent on God to take care of me. I am grateful that He has chosen me as a tool to take care of her. If He shows me how He wants me to treat her and I follow that direction, who knows, she may behave lovingly toward me. Regardless, I ask God to help me to seek to love rather than be loved.