I had quite the collection of stuffed animals growing up, but a special piece of my heart was reserved for Rosie. Rosie was a little pink poodle with polyester curls and plastic beads in her paws. She came with me everywhere I went. She went on every vacation with me, attended my birthday parties, and I’m pretty sure came to church on more than one occasion. As soon as I got home from school, she was by my side.
But one day, my real dog discovered Rosie. Unfortunately, the real dog also had real teeth and real slobber. That day I came home find my precious poodle chewed, matted, and torn.
My parents expressed their condolences and started making plans to buy me a new pink poodle. I, however, would not accept this. I didn’t want a new pink poodle. Rosie was not the same as all of the other poodles.
So I spent the next few hours grooming Rosie: combing her fur, polishing her plastic eyes, and mending her tears, all in an effort to show my parents she could be as good as new. I would not give up on her.
After some convincing (likely due to my stubborn insistence more than my craftsmanship), my parents begrudgingly let me keep Rosie and regifted the new poodle they’d bought as a replacement.
Years later, holding the little poodle in my hand, I think Jesus looks at me a bit like I looked at Rosie. Sure, there are lots of stuffed dogs in the world. And of course I would have loved to bring all of them into my home. But that didn’t change the fact that I loved Rosie, and no matter how many stuffed dogs I brought into my collection, none of them could replace Rosie in my heart. Rosie was Rosie, and a hundred stuffed dogs couldn’t fill the gap she would have left.
And I loved her despite her brokenness. She didn’t have to be lovely. She didn’t have to be cute. She didn’t have to be soft and cuddly. I just wanted her to be my adventure buddy.
I just came upon this verse again, and I think it speaks deeply here: “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)
He will not forsake you.
Jesus knows there are other people out there who aren’t quite as messed up as me. Who aren’t as prone to wander as me. Who have it all figured out more than me. But to him, there is no replacement. With unbridled love, again and again, Jesus mends my tears and makes me good as new. He doesn’t need me to be admirable. He just wants me to be there with him.
And he wants the same for you.
Will we show up? Will we let him mend us? And, perhaps most of all: Will we accept being unwaveringly loved when we don’t feel we deserve it?