Patience, love bring change

Tales from the front pew

Change is a wonderful and often surprising thing. Sometimes it occurs after much prayer and patience. Other times it appears out of the blue, knocking us for quite a loop.

Our family recently experienced the latter scenario with our kitten, Tiger. Tiger, you might remember, came to us several months ago as a rescue via our daughter Val. The poor little thing had spent her first months of life shut up in a cat carrier, primarily because her human “family” found her too rambunctious and difficult to deal with.

Once Val heard about Tiger’s plight, she launched a full court press to convince her father and me to adopt a fourth cat. In all fairness, it didn’t require all that much convincing. As animal lovers, neither Bob nor I could stand the thought of a kitten being mistreated. And so, we adopted little Tiger into our family, with no regrets.

Tiger has thrived in the Smith household, thanks to lots of love and attention and having a large area to explore — her cat carrier imprisonment days just a bad memory.

Considering her woeful lack of early socialization, it took Tiger a while to assimilate herself into our cat family. To be honest, she still manages to irritate her feline sisters on a regular basis, but every now and then I catch a glimmer of something akin to affection in their interactions with her.

Minnie, for example, will sometimes sniff inquisitively at Tiger before fixing her with a patented “Minnie glare” and moving on. (Small victories.)

Patches occasionally sidles up to Tiger and attempts to lick her fur, the cat equivalent to saying “Welcome to the tribe.” Unfortunately, Tiger, still uncertain regarding social cues, typically responds by smacking her in the face with a paw.

Boots, on the other hand, remains the last kitty hold-out, issuing a series of breathy hisses the moment Tiger approaches her personal space. I’m pretty sure it’s her way of saying, “This tribe isn’t big enough for both of us, pal.”

Similar to her relationship with the cats, Tiger wasn’t quite certain how to interact with us humans. Every time one of us tried to pet her, she would either run away or respond with a swipe of her paw or none-too-gentle nip. While Bob and Val expressed concern over this, I had a feeling that one day things would change.

“Just wait,” I told them. “She’s going to be really sweet one day.”

“Yeah, but how many fingers will I have left by the time that happens?” Bob asked.

Sure enough, one day it happened. Tiger climbed into my lap, snuggled against me, and began purring in complete contentment. From that moment on, she became a new kitten, affectionate and gentle. What a wonderful change! And all it took was patience and love.

You know, the Lord works like that in each of us. Though we might reject Him, He doesn’t give up, waiting patiently for us to soften our hardened hearts and accept the love He has proffered. When that happens, praise the Lord, we find ourselves forever and wonderfully changed.