Years ago we had a dog, a Welsh corgi named Callie. I don't dislike dogs, but I've never really been a "dog person." My wife is much more the animal lover. She was the one to care for her, walk her, and be the kind master every dog deserves. I must confess, Callie never did get too much attention from me. In fact, I often considered her a nuisance more than anything else.
We got Callie as a puppy, and she was all puppy. She raced around the back yard moving those little legs faster than you thought was possible. When anyone would go out in the back-yard Callie would race to their side. We would later get her a companion, Jem, and they would frolic in the back yard together chasing each other and doing that dog wrestling thing that dogs do. But then one day, we noticed Callie was slowing down a bit. She had even developed a slight limp.
So, we brought her to the veterinarian to see what the problem might be. After examinations and tests the doctor told us that Callie had a condition called hip dysplasia. We were given the medical explanation of the disease, but the bottom line was that Callie was in pain and although that pain could be treated with medicine she would always suffer to some degree.
From that day on I became more of a dog person. I found myself a little more tolerant of her annoying behavior and even found myself petting her more often. Knowing that she was in pain I treated her with more compassion and kindness. Perhaps a little rub on the belly would help her forget about that pain, even if just for a moment. Isn't that what a person should do? Be kind to others who are in pain. That whole experience caused me to reexamine how I treated my dog, but it also caused me to rethink how I treat people.
Back in 2004 I had to wear a cast on my leg and use crutches for six weeks. During that time people offered to hold doors, they yielded to me, they asked if they could do anything for me. People treated me with an extra measure of kindness. People treat others better when they know they are in pain. My bright orange cast was an obvious sign of my pain. My hurt was apparent - most people hide their hurts so that no one else knows the pain they are in.
I'm guilty of ignoring people at times and, I must admit, sometimes I look at people as a nuisance more than anything else. Then, when I realize that most people are bearing some sort of pain my response changes. And even if they show no signs of pain, I just assume it, and, truth be told, most people are in pain to some degree - they just are very good about concealing it! Everyone needs to be treated with compassion and tenderness.
Perhaps we should find ourselves a little more tolerant of others. Perhaps we should take the time to be more gentle and considerate to those around us. Maybe a kind word or a friendly gesture is just what people need. After all, shouldn’t people be kind to others, especially when they are in pain?
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He and his wife, Henriann, have four children and two grandsons. He is a native of Massachusetts and loves his Boston sports teams. His writings and links to sermons can be found at catteau.net. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.