Shame is one of those things that can honestly cripple people and their feelings about themselves, because shame goes to the very heart of who we are as humans. It doesn’t just address bad behavior, but it makes us feel like we are fundamentally bad. It goes to the very core of what makes us who we are, and says that we are not good….we’re bad.
Even though my friends had told me that I hadn’t done anything wrong to cause the end of our friendship, deep down, I think I worried that they weren’t being honest with me. In my heart of hearts, I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but it took a long time for my brain and my heart to connect to the truth: the problem was at their end and not mine. In the time that it took my heart and brain to sort things out, which was many months, I stayed stuck wondering what was wrong with me! I just couldn’t believe that friends would dump each other like that. I kept thinking that there had to be a reason….and I worried that I was the reason!
I think Rugby was sorting out similar things in his own little doggy way. He had gotten dumped from previous homes without knowing why. What had he done to end their relationship? What was wrong with him? Well, after living with him a short while, I think I knew the reason why their relationships had ended, and it was his nutty behavior! However, Rugby had no idea that his behavior was any cause for concern. He just did what he did, as all dogs do.
But while I was sorting things out, I started thinking about what really was wrong with Rugby. He was a terrific dog with some goofy behavior, that’s all. He just had goofy behavior. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with him, he just had goofy behavior. He deserved to have a great home with safe people who would look after him and value him for who he was. I knew that not everyone would see the good in him, just as not everyone would see the good in me or value me for who I was. But neither one of us was so far gone that we didn’t deserve to have a great life…and maybe….just maybe….that great life was living with one another.
I think when I got to this part of working through things, I started to turn a corner in a good way toward healing my heart. When I could see that Rugby had value despite being “damaged goods,” I started to see the same thing about myself. Just as Rugby had had families who had dumped him, he still was a terrific little dog! I knew that not everyone would agree with me on that, but all that mattered to me was what I saw in him…and what he saw in me.
And this really began a great and wonderful journey of doing life together….learning to love and to trust all over again….for both of us. We’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but we’ve learned how to apologize to each other, and keep on going. It’s kind of crazy that a little hot mess of a dog helped me heal and taught me my value and worth, but Rugby has done that for me and so much more. God knew that the way to my heart was through a dog.