Good Intentions. I do my best to be a good cat by loving my humans well. I am always around them, I don’t make much noise—well, unless I am starving and I don’t really require them to do much to take care of me. Feed my and clean my litter box, and I’m a happy cat—most of the time.
Unpredictable Reactions. But every once in a while, I get really snippy. And I snip at my parents, with my teeth. They can be petting me on my head, giving me the best head scratch that I was happy with less than five minutes ago.
And out pops a snip, which takes my parents by surprise. Sometimes a hand is pulled away, and followed by a firm yet gentle slap on my head.
Other times, I have just been fed and sometimes I like to see more food in my bowl. I get scared when they walk around that they might leave and forget to feed me. It’s not rational, because they just fed me, and I have food in my bowl, but my reactions happen anyway sometimes. I jump up and nip on their pants with my teeth.
When my mom has pants on that are wide or flowy on the bottom, I jump up and grab harder so that I actually get to her leg.
Loving Discipline. Mom gets mad when I jump on her leg like that, and she turns around, raises her voice a little, points her finger and says no, and then she gives me a little slap on the head.
I know I have not been kind because she doesn’t do that if I don’t hurt her. She doesn’t do that if I just meow and tell her that I need comforting.
But fear is a strange motivator of bad behavior. I wish I didn’t get scared and react badly, but Mom and Dad gently discipline me, which reminds me that hurting them out of fear is not OK. I am grateful that they temper my moods, and remind me of a better way.
Self-Initiated Corrective Action. I know that I have done something wrong, and within a few minutes, I come out from hiding and want to be with them, and I know to be nice.
I have also learned that if I can’t be nice, I know I am likely overly tired. I just need to sleep. I am pleased that I have found a way to temper my own mood—before parental discipline is necessary.
How I’m like Clive. I know that even with my best intentions, I surprise myself interacting with others when I react in an irritable fashion. After the reaction comes out, I realize that my reaction may not have been warranted, or perhaps some reaction was warranted, but the one that slipped out was bigger than the situation called for.
Once I identify my response and logically assess its appropriateness, I can move toward a self-initiated corrective action. These actions can involve spending time with God to ask Him about it, getting a little more rest and apologizing if my inappropriate actions have been directed at my husband, God or another person.
Finding gratitude and redemption. I’m thankful to God that He has, in His grace, shown me that my reactions may be as unwarranted as Clive’s when he bites the hand that is feeding him or scratching his head. I’m also thankful that His blood covers each and every offense. I’m grateful that he washes me clean, and that He is working on my behalf to mold me more and more into His character. I’m grateful to look back and see the lessons learned and to have another chance.
Applications for Life
What about you? Do you recognize unpredictable hurtful actions that you may or may not intend to do to others? Does God shift your mind and heart to contrition and repentance (or turning away from the previous behavior and toward a way that’s more loving?) Have you experienced God’s redemption from a bad mood or unmerited bad reaction? If not, ask Him to show you His redemptive power in your life. Ask Him to continue to mold your character to be more like the character of Jesus. He is faithful to answer those prayers.
“…Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love“ (Ephesians 4:1–2).