Once bitten twice shy

As a boy, I will never forget the time I was petting a dog laying on my chest. As I began to get up, the dog glared at me with a wild-eyed gaze. Something snapped and he sprang at my face, ripping my upper lip with his front fang. Blood poured everywhere. Thankfully, a skilled surgeon was able to stitch my lip well enough that the scar is barely seen – but to this day, I have a slightly crooked smile.

That memory locked in for me, not a fear of dogs, but a caution as I approach them. I don’t simply pet and assume they won’t bite. I hold out my hand, let them get a good sniff and then slowly pat their head, if they allow. However, I remain cautious.

If I’m honest, I tend to approach people the same way. For I have been “bitten” and betrayed beginning at a very young age. Needless to say, I realize not all dogs, and not all people bite, but I remain cautious.

As a Christian this convicts me. For I desire to love as Christ loves, but when you’re waiting for that subtle, or not so subtle attack from another person, it can be a hard task to love freely at times. It causes one to hold back a bit of oneself – to not go all the way into a relationship. It’s also not expecting and looking for the best in others, and this can create cynicism – none of which is the most fertile ground for a Christian to sow good seed.

Thankfully, God has peeled much of this soul “scar tissue” away today, and continues to do so. Also, He repeatedly shows us all clearly what to do in regards to love, even for those who might be more gun-shy. For example, Jesus knew He would be betrayed by his closest allies. Yet, he loved them anyway. He even washed their feet!

Then, as He faced humiliation and brutality at the cross, He prayed for His attackers.

That is love. It is loving anyway. It is risking the vulnerability. It is loving without expectation of anything in return. It is sacrificial. Even if the bites come, it is loving God to the point that you can’t help but share His love with others.

Then of course, it is also not being, or becoming one of the “biters”, but rather, one of the magnificent lovers. Can we do this on our own – no way. The miracle of magnificent love comes only from Christ, and through Him, who strengthens us. Serving for His glory and others good.

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