There are events, emotions, misconceptions and erroneous knowledge about Him or His activities in our lives. I came to the realization that I had such a misunderstanding from my past that I had to confront. I had a very traumatic event from my childhood that shaped how I related to YHVH and other people in general. I was about seven years old and I had just begun to understand who God was from my time at Sunday School and church. I loved Him very much and began seeing Him as a friend and Father. Our family cat had just died and my family was not overly upset by the loss but we felt the absence. My parents decided to adopt two kittens from a local shelter for my brother and I. We named the cats Andy and Steve. (My brother and I were weirdly practical.) Andy and Steve were wonderful cats and we enjoyed them very much. I remember sitting on our screened porch attached to our house and swinging on the porch swing while the South Carolina breeze blew through. We had shade from these large roller blinds and the cracked tile floor was cool on my feet.
We had the kitten brothers for about two months and one night I went out on the porch to check on the kittens. Steve greeted me at the door but Andy didn’t. I looked around for him and there in a dark corner was Andy hanging by his neck from the cord of the blinds. I shrieked in horror and my parents came rushing out to see what was happening. They untied him and tried to do a feeble form of CPR. We had no idea how long he had been there so it was a completely last-ditch effort. I ran to my room because I was told that God could bring people back from the dead, so a cat should be no problem. I ran into my room and shut the door.
“HELP HIM!!,” I screamed at the ceiling with tears running down my face.
I ran back out to the porch to the sight of my dad trying to revive the kitten and my mom weeping on the porch swing. She took her glasses off and wiped her eyes as she sobbed. My dad looked up at me and said nothing. I remember his face was one of defeat and sadness. He stopped the chest compressions and sat down.
I don’t remember much after that. I remember holding the kitten confused and listening to my dad dig the hole we were going to bury him in. I don’t remember thinking thoughts much less praying. I remember seeing the Andy laying in the dirt and a flashlight on him. My parents said something to my brother and me but I don’t remember what it was. I was less than an infant in my walk with Jesus but the first time I cried out in faith and for a miracle I heard nothing.
Our family situation changed and we needed to move. We were moving from a very small town in the country to a wonderful suburb of Charleston, SC. We were going to have to bring our cats inside. My parents approached my brother and I and told us that we needed to find Cloudy and Tiffany, two new cats that replaced Andy, a new home because three cats in a house would have been too much. I don’t remember exactly how I felt but there was a dull burning in my spirit. I hated to let those cats go. Now that I am older, I see the wisdom of my parents in that decision but my irrational preteen self would not accept it. I felt helpless. I felt like I was being stolen from. Again. I suppressed the feelings I had and moved on emotionally, or so I thought.
Adolescence was a particularly trying time for me. The rush of hormones and new emotions rushed over me and the memory of Andy came rushing back. This period of my life was also when Satan showed up. Violent thoughts and hurt emotions dominated my mind and spirit. I was terrified of the Devil but also indulged his influence over my life. Nightmares, demonic thoughts and visions, and evil manifestations were common place. I thought that I would be able to handle it but I could not. I turned to God at that time and accepted Jesus into my heart. I believed in Him so much and as I tried to be obedient and tried to be holy, I was defeated over and over again. I enjoyed church because I felt that I was safe within the walls and in the company of other believers. I can honestly say that I felt safe nowhere else. My faith at that time was more therapy than a relationship built on trust and truth. I ran to God many times and I felt very close to Him in times of need or trouble. He always responded to my cries but I ignored Him in the pleasant times.
After I joined the Army and left home, I began exploring the Occult. I fell into Satanism and pagan worship. God pulled me out of it but I continued seeking love and acceptance in all the wrong places. I seemed to be powerless to stop myself from sinning. I tried to find comfort in anything and everything. I met my wife and found stability for a moment but I remember feeling that God wanted to reestablish a relationship with me and I resisted. Our first year of marriage was rough, to say the least. I desperately wanted a dog and my wife and I fought often about it. We finally compromised and we brought two pug puppies into our lives named Grace and Cooper. I fell head over heels in love with them and they became our children. We took them overseas and we brought them home. They greeted our son when he came home from the hospital and were excellent with him. About two years after I separated from the Army, Cooper one day began acting very strangely and very sickly. He stopped eating and drinking. We took him to the vet knowing something was very wrong. After X-Rays the veterinarian told us that he had a massive buildup of fluid in his chest and that it was going to be a fortune to treat him. I went out to my car after that I completely broke down. I had a son now and my family did not have an abundance of money lying around that could handle this. We sorrowfully opted to have Cooper put down. I remember this as the darkest time of my life. I sat in the waiting room asking God to give him back to me in the Kingdom. I gave YHVH authority in the situation but I was mad at Him that I was in the situation. I felt like that little kid holding the dead kitten when I watched Cooper fade away as the veterinarian administered the lethal drug. We took him home and buried him the next day.
I stumbled through my days for a few months and when I felt I was ready, I told my wife I wanted another dog. She was not ready to move on yet. I began to harbor resentment toward her that was demonic. I believed that she was standing between me and happiness. I wanted to fill that painful void in my heart and she wouldn’t let me. We had just found out that we were pregnant with our second child and I was excited but had this dark cloud over me. I wanted a dog. She finally caved in and we got a little puppy. Tension rose in the house and the training and her resentment toward this dog caused so much turmoil. I had to choose between my family and my new dog. I chose my family. We gave this little puppy up to a new home. I remember sobbing in the car as we drove away after giving him up and I brooded with hatred for my wife. I think who I was truly mad at, though, was God.
A few months later, I received and email from the family who had taken my puppy and they said that he wasn’t working out in their house. They asked if I wanted him back. I said yes of course and I knew that I had a fight coming with my wife but I didn’t care. I wanted my dog. I got him back and brought him home. Everything went as I expected and I hovered over that dog night and day because I didn’t want him to go again. The relationship with my wife continued to degrade and once again I was faced with the choice of my family or this dog. Once again, I rehomed this puppy to a wonderful family. The hatred I felt for my wife reached its zenith at that point. Why would she put me through this if she loved me? I know she asked the exact same question of me.
Our daughter was born and we were so happy. We celebrated and enjoyed the growth in our family but I was still not happy. During this joyous time, I was scheming to get what I truly wanted. I secretly placed an advertisement on Craigslist to see if anyone had a dog they wanted to get rid of. I received an email that there was a family who had found a pug and were looking for a new home for him. I rushed over there after telling my wife what I was doing. She was crushed that I would do something like this to her at such a wonderful time in our lives. I had stopped caring and really didn’t care anymore what she thought. In my mind, she was the enemy and I was right. I brought this perfectly wonderful dog home and was very happy. My wife had never been more hurt. My desire to have this pain quenched was more important to me than anything she could do or say if it didn’t involve accepting a new dog into our lives. The pain I felt was ruling my life and I sought relief in the way I thought would be best.
After a month of having a miserable home life, I took the pug back to the people I had gotten him from. I had a choice at that moment; go home and trust YHVH to heal this, or get a divorce from a woman I thought did not care about the pain I was in. The decision was tough. I reached out in faith and decided to go home and try to work on it. I still could not let go of the pain however. Our lives were in a place of defeat from another issue we had and I still felt the absence of the dog. I finally found a puppy that my wife and I had always said that we wanted. I called her and asked her humbly if we could go and get this puppy. She accepted my request and we got a dog that we have both enjoyed. Seems like that should be the end, huh? Well it isn’t.
My wife and I began recovering from our “dark age” and we stood together through many trials. We had yet another child and for some reason, I felt as if I wanted another dog. She of course said no but this time I had grown up enough and had healed enough that I knew she was right. The desire, however, remained. We went from rental house to rental house and eventually purchased our own home. It is a small, quaint and humble house that she and I for the first time in many years agreed on the decision to buy it. Of course with a privately owned house, there are no pet-restrictions. The discussions began again. I was in college and she proposed that when I finished school, I could get a dog because I would be home to take care of it. I agreed. Every day I looked at puppies litters and the internet dreaming of the day that I would get to bring one home.
I finished my last semester and the time finally came. When the time for a decision came, I approached her and was finally considerate of her feelings when I talked about the subject. I realized that this is something that she didn’t want and I relented. She offered another option that did not involve a dog and I accepted it. Even with her generous offer, the desire to have a dog still lingered. I finally had had enough and just yesterday decided to analyze with prayer and reflection, my motivation for wanting another dog.
What was revealed to me was that my relationship with YHVH began when I was a little kid and I had never gotten past the trauma of losing my kitten. My relationship with Him started with that as the backdrop. When my adolescence hit, I had trouble dealing with the suppressed pain from that event. I believed in God, I served Him in faith, but I can honestly say that I have never been His friend because of it. Why was it that I was so quick to rebel against authority? Why did I fall into the Occult so quickly? Why did I almost burn down my marriage because I didn’t get my way? Why did I have the desire to acquire new animals and new dogs? Why did I not care what YHVH or anybody thought about pornography? What I had turned my life into because of that event was one giant reaction to pain. Pets were no longer pets. They were pain-killing drugs that took away the pain for a while, but just like narcotics, their effects begin to wane and more is desired to attempt to hide the trauma. If I had remained unchecked by my wife, I would have become an animal hoarder. The other effect of my reaction to this pain was that I began to be driven by rebellion. I hated the Army when I served, and I hated my wife’s stance against what I thought I needed. I know now that this hatred is only a symptom of a bigger problem. I was angry at YHVH.
As I dove down into my memories and psyche yesterday, I felt as if I was digging up a dead body in a graveyard. When I realized what was causing the pain, I began to see that pattern of Satan’s influence in my life. I had trouble dealing with the emotions of the event and that is when Satan made his presence known. When I had no authority over me, I left myself vulnerable and he came again. I lost my dog, Cooper, and he was there again. This one nugget of pain in my soul was a foothold for the enemy. He would not let me move past seeing myself as a little child holding a dead kitten. He constantly reminded me of that event, stole my joy, stole my peace, and hurt my relationship with the Father. Satan let me feel like I needed something to cover the pain and not to cure it. The cure for the pain was to realize that YHVH had taken my life down a road that I had to accept. He had given me something that I didn’t want. He tested me and I failed. I fail every test He gives me. Why? Because the Enemy has a place from which he can corrupt me. The Enemy lied to me about what caused the pain. He blamed YHVH, he blamed my wife, he blamed circumstance. However, there is no blame to be assigned. Only acceptance of YHVH’s authority over my life can cure this pain. Only my digging up of this corpse of hurt and asking Him to take it out of my hands will cure this pain. Seeing myself as a little child holding that dead kitten and handing it to Him and saying, “It is well with my soul” will cure this pain.
Let this story be testament to YHVH’s mercy and slowness to anger. Let this be a witness of His patience and grace. Let it be a witness that He never gives up on His children and that He brings trials to make them more holy and to give them endurance. With a tremendous weight off of my shoulders and a cancer removed from my soul, I look forward to tomorrow. I look forward to today. I forgive yesterday, and I “forgive” YHVH. May He walk with me and call me His friend and loving son.
Cole Davis and Other Contributors