This past weekend, Tilly, my four-month-old puppy, and Kole, my three-and-a-half year old nephew met for the first time.
Kole had been expectantly waiting to meet Tilly, mentioning her on the phone each time I talked to him over the past couple of months. Tilly was oblivious, but since she loves people, especially little, energetic ones, I knew she would be thrilled.
Unfortunately, Tilly jumps and nibbles, and Kole is afraid of dogs bigger than him. (It’s official: Tilly weighed in at 34 pounds at her last vet appointment, though she’s probably even bigger now, and Kole weighs 33 pounds.)
Anytime the two of them were both outside, they were both heading in the same direction: Tilly towards Kole, and Kole away from Tilly. At one point, I found myself pushing Kole on the tricycle up a hill while holding Tilly by the leash an arm’s length away. Kole was trying to ride away from her as fast as he could; Tilly was trying to bite at the flag waving behind the trike.
“She scares me,” Kole would say as Tilly would lunge at him and fall just short because I had her on a short leash.
“It’s ok, Sweetie,” I would assure him. “I’ve got her.”
“You’ve got her?” he would ask, just to make sure he was safe.
“Yes, I’ve got her.”
A couple of times when Tilly was a little calmer, I gave her a slightly wider berth, hoping if she could smell Kole and be closer to him, the excitement would wear off for both of them.
The plan worked until she would wave a paw in his direction and catch a toenail in the skin of his arm. She never hurt him, but the contact alarmed him every time.
“Oh no!” he would say. “She scares me.”
Then I would apologize, and say, “It’s ok; I have her now. I just wanted her to smell you and lick you so she would know who you are. But I won’t let her hurt you.”
In one moment of triumph, Tilly was off her leash with Kole and me in the closed garage with her. She was just walking around, not jumping, and Kole announced, “She not scare me!”
We were both exhilarated.
But in the excitement, Tilly rushed over at him, not jumping but crowding him. He flinched again.
“She scares me,” Kole said, as I grabbed Tilly’s collar and reconnected the least.
“It’s ok,” I told him. “I’ve got her.”
We’ll try again in a few more months.
“God’s got it,” her husband has said each time they face a scary situation on the farm or in life in general. “God’s got it,” he says, exhibiting a faith I am longing to grow into.
Thankfully, even when the challenges of life lunge at us, they are always at the end of a leash held firmly by Jesus. He might let them get closer to us than we’d like – we might even feel the scrape on our skin – but he’s always got it.
When I remember that, I’m not scared.
Photo by meg_williams, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.