Joseph and I made the decision today that we must rehome our precious dog. Bartholomew has been our constant companion for nearly a decade. He is tender with our children, playful with Joseph, and loves to snuggle up to me. He is like another one of our kiddos.
But he isn’t one of our children. And right now our children need all the attention and care we can give them.
It is breaking our hearts to make this decision. I keep hearing my dad’s voice inside my head tsk’ing me for irresponsibility. “Teeli, when you make the commitment to adopt a pet it isn’t something to be taken lightly. You need to understand that there will be times when that animal is sick, or unable to care for itself. That’s your job. You don’t get rid of a pet because they are an inconvenience.” I heard him lecture my friends about it. I heard him soapbox about it at gatherings. He was the great animal rescuer – and nothing kept him from doing the right thing by his animals. He raised thousands for animal shelters and advocated tirelessly for animals.
I’m letting him down with this decision. He’s dead, but it still doesn’t matter to my heart.
I want to tell him, “Get in line, Dad. There’s a whole queue to question me on the smallest detail of every decision.” Because when you race, headfirst into the valley of the shadow of death, every choice suddenly has the weight of the world behind it. Why do we do this to one another?
Trust me, Joseph and I fought on this one. We struggled to find ways to keep Bart happy even as we spent hours away from the house each day going to therapy and visitations. We still got him groomed and gave him special treats even as the neighbors began calling the sheriffs’s office because he was jumping our fence from boredom. We petted and played and loved him whenever we could.
It wasn’t enough.
I’m not going to couch this in some altruistic platitude that we are really more concerned about Bart’s well-being than our own. What wasn’t enough was our strength. We don’t have it. We can’t create it. It just isn’t there. When I come home from a hard day of back-to-back therapy appointments where Nathan broke down and Olivia cried for hours, I don’t have the strength to care about whether Bart’s coat is matted. When we get a call from Asher telling us that he really doesn’t see what the big deal is, I don’t have the strength to care about whether Bart was fed.
And honestly, I believe that whatever made my father believe he was a better person because he refused to ever rehome an animal doesn’t make me a worse person for recognizing that I just can’t do it all.
I know that Jesus sees my heart. And I know that he cares for Bart. And I trust, like I am learning to do with all the crazy, spinning, out-of-my-control circumstances I face on a daily basis – that somehow this, too, will be a part of the redemption story God has planned for my broken family.