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What Socky Taught Me About
My Relationship with Christ
By Wong Wei Jin
A tribute to Socky, a man’s best friend – what my friendship with my family dog taught me about our relationship with God, Our Heavenly Father.
Socky left us on the 28th of December 2019. My last few images of her on that day was her usual self, lying down under the sun and then sitting by our front gate just observing us as we went about our daily chores around the house. I am struggling to navigate through this ‘letting go’ period and I think it is probably due to the sudden manner of her leaving. Maybe also because 2019 felt like there was an almost equal amount of ‘goodbyes’ with ‘hellos’ for me. Then again, she was a dog who always did things her way.
The 24-48 hours that followed after we discovered that she was ‘missing’ was almost traumatic-like for me but I was also reminded about a few things.
We waited as a family hoping for her return as she found her way out of our house and wandered away and I wondered for a moment, ‘is this how God feels when someone goes astray?’ The story in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus tells the tax collectors and sinners around him of the Shepherd that goes out to look for the Lost Sheep certainly came to mind. The elation and joy that ‘rejoicing in heaven’ means when one sinner repents is certainly profound! I was certainly hoping for Socky’s return. It was hard to keep on looking outside the house and seeing if it was Socky but really, it was just a cat or another wild dog wandering around. Imagine my disappointment! I do wonder sometimes how God feels as He waits for us to respond to His love. We can be such fickle minded creatures at times. We say we love you God on Sunday but on Monday, we can be back to living in a state that does not reflect God’s love at all.
The little times when we tried to discipline our family dog and to stop her from coming into the house for example, she still persisted and found herself in (sometimes due to us giving in). Such was her determination and her ability to annoy us on a whole different level. I ask myself, ‘Why and how an animal can have so much impact on me a 30+ years old educated professional?’ I am shocked actually with how I responded. The only conclusion that I have been able to consider is the friendship that I have experienced with her, which was unlike any adult-adult relationship. The way she stares at me in silence with her seemingly innocent and cataract-y eyes and wagging tongue or sometimes just lying down sideways or on her back with her belly and privates all exposed as I tell her about the 1001 things that are bothering me. And in her silly demure, her unspoken verbal cues assures me that somehow, everything will be alright.
This reminds me as well of the ‘friendship of God’.
These 2 short portion of Scripture provide insights on our roles in our friendship with God. Being a friend of God does not give us that sense of entitlement that we are better than everyone else. Instead, it should compel us to further live by faith as Abraham did. Even in Jesus talking to His disciples in John 15, there seems to be a responsibility and a call to action by being called friends. The following verse in verse 16 talks about ‘going and bearing fruit that will last’, certainly very strong and active description of actions.
Socky’s perceived courage or ‘no choice but to listen to her master’ in going through a mastectomy at such a late age is nothing short but inspiring. On the day of her booked surgery, she hid under the car and did not want to come out to go to the vet. She has never done this before! Dogs are such intuitive and clever creatures! How did she know that she was going for a surgery that she may not have survived! Given only a 50-50 chance and with a diagnosed weak heart, the odds were definitely stacked against her. Yet she survived and recovered so well with the surgery only a few months ago! So much that people even commented that she looked like she was ‘aging backwards’. Now you can imagine our further shock with her departure as we thought she had a few more good years in after the surgery, although we did notice sudden lapses in breathing of late but just shrugged it off.
Another consideration is faith in the unseen. Together with Socky, we could not predict the outcome of her surgery and as much as she did not want to go for it, she grudgingly moved from disobedience to obedience although with much coaxing from her master. That could be true also in what God may be calling us and leading us to at times. We may stubbornly resist His prompting and at times His Word outright yet He is gracious and persistent to get our attention because He loves us. Although He has His limit too and we must be aware of this.
I am perplexed at myself of how a friendship with a dog who sometimes was more annoying than obedient has affected me. But I end here, prioritizing gratefulness above all things, grateful that this dog chose to share herself with my family and I this past 14 years of human life. We have not been the best of masters in our sometimes neglect of her but she has been the best of what a dog could be to any human being, a friend. With that, my thoughts turn again to God Our Father, the One who loves and cares for us like no One does. I have no intention to belittle theology or to even draw parallels between human-animal relationship with human-human and even human-God relationship. I am just sharing some of my personal thoughts and experiences as a way for me to grieve well and maybe, just maybe also, to tell you about a God who came down as a baby as we recently celebrated Christmas and died for you and me and resurrected showing us a love that is incomparable.
I think about Socky as a dog but as I reflect now, I think about her as also created by God. I think about God’s glory in His creation, His invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature and I am compelled again to give thanks and worship Him.
I do not think myself or my family would be getting another dog anytime soon (having Socky in our lives wasn’t planned as well! Mind you, she is not even of any pure bred like the retrievers and so forth), but having a dog does teach us some truths about human-human and human-God relationship and that is certainly something to consider one day if you can stomach the ensuing heartache when he/she leaves.
The call to live by faith grows louder with each day passed. As we begin 2020 and move that one day closer to Jesus’ coming again, I am taking this time to find ways to slowly ‘let go’ of a dear friend in Socky. For now, I have to guard my weak heart to not be so stuck in this season of grief but to draw a little bit of courage from Socky’s example and to keep on keeping on until the True Master returns one day.