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Life Lessons from Muffin: Unconditional Love and Acceptance

It was the most perfect July day. White clouds were aglow with silver light and heaven was brighter than I've ever seen it before.

"Lord, thank you for giving us Muffin. She made our family so happy. We miss her, and we can't wait to see her on the other side."

The words of my dad's graveside prayer echoed in my mind as I drove the stretch of highway back home, lit up by a breathtaking sunset.

Muffin was 16 years old, and held on so cheerfully through declining health until yesterday, when she passed. What a full life she lived.

I was 12 when we got Muffin as a puppy, and her sweet personality captured our hearts instantly. She loved everyone, and seemed to exude a warmth that was both welcoming and comforting. She used to sit by the door and whimper when we'd leave the house, then bark excitedly with plenty of tail-wagging when we returned. I know everybody says this about their own pet, but she really was the best dog.

On the drive to Muffin's burial yesterday, I passed by a church sign that seemed to speak directly to my heart. It read:

If God seems far away... who moved?

Instantly, I remembered the day I moved away to college. Muffin sat quietly by the door as I hauled my luggage to the car and drove 4 hours away. My mom told me that Muffin slept in my room that night, missing me. Over the next several years, I'd return home during university breaks and Muffin would welcome me with so much excitement, it was as though I'd never left.

Who moved?

I did.

I left her.

But she didn't seem to hold it against me. Even after getting married and having children, Muffin still welcomed me back with unconditional acceptance whenever I'd visit mom and dad's house. Despite all the changes in my own life over 16 years, it seemed like Muffin never changed. She always loved me the same.

Isn't that how God loves us? 

We move. We change. We live our lives. But God's love never changes. He's always the same. And He's always ready to welcome us back.

Isn't that how we ought to live?

Driving through rural Virginia last night gave me plenty of time to think about Muffin's life and 16 years of memories with her. I couldn't stop thinking about the prayer my dad prayed with tears in his eyes after he placed her wooden box in the ground:

"Lord, thank you for giving us Muffin. She made our family so happy. We miss her, and we can't wait to see her on the other side."

I was choked up by the profound simplicity of this beautiful prayer. Honestly, if that prayer is prayed at my funeral, I think I will have succeeded in life.

"Lord, thank you for giving us Claire. She made our family so happy. We miss her, and we can't wait to see her on the other side."

Unconditional love means accepting those around you with joy, regardless of their circumstances. It means welcoming others with genuine peace, despite past failures. It means forgetting the pain, and moving forward with purpose.

Live in such a way that - when you're gone - you'll be missed, and others will exclaim that they can't wait to see you on the other side.

Dedicated to Muffin
May 31, 1997 - July 29, 2013


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