Our last family pet died a few years ago. Lately I’ve been feeling that it was time to adopt another fur baby. I called around to see if there were any kittens available but wasn’t having much luck. Then I got a call from my vet. They had several cats all around one year old that had been living outdoors being fed by an elderly gentleman in the next town. When he died, the neighbors complained to the local animal control that these cats were roaming wild. The cats were rounded up and taken the vetrienarian’s office to be put up for adoption. I stopped in to see the cats not knowing what to expect. I wanted a cute kitten who would curl up in my lap and fall asleep only to wake and want to play. Adopting an adult feral cat is a very different story.
When I first met Mirabel, I fell in love. She was a petite calico with golden eyes and a sweet personality but very scared and skittish. I knew it would take time for her to come around but my husband and I were willing to give it a try.
For the first month she was in the house, we never saw her. She lived under a couch in the living room and refused to come out. At night, when the house was quiet and we were asleep, she would eat and use her litter box but otherwise stayed hidden.
After that first month we noticed that she would sneak thru the living room on her way to her food dish. If we made eye contact, she would run. At least, we could catch a glimpse of her. Patiently we waited for her to come around. By the second month, she was walking thru the room in front of us and started to play with the little toys that we had scattered around. She still didn’t like to make eye contact and certainly wouldn’t tolerate any human touch. Each evening I would tempt her with treats trying to get her interact with me. She was definitely interested and slowly but surely, she began to creep closer to me as I held out the treat. Only If I put the treat down and withdrew my hand, would she come forward to eat. Several weeks went by and she came closer and closer but still no contact.
Then our daughter and her fiancé came to visit with their dog for four days. Mirabel spent that time hiding in the basement. We had moved her litterbox there already so she was very comfortable but I know she missed our evening treats together. When our daughter and fiancé left and took their sweet dog with them, Mirabel came back and this time was actually sniffing my hand. The next evening, she laid her head in my hand and I was able to scratch behind her ears. She wasn’t purring yet, but closes her eyes and seems to enjoy the touch.
The next day we left for an eight day road trip through New England and Canada that we had planned months earlier. Our son stayed home and cared for Mirabel. He said that she wouldn’t come near him but did eat twice a day and used the litter box daily.
When we returned home, Mirabel wouldn’t come near me for two days. I knew she was traumatized by the dog and then having us disappear for a week. I was heartbroken that she apparently didn’t trust me anymore. On our third night home, she cautiously came towards me as I was sitting on the couch. She saw the treat in my hand but wasn’t having any of it. It took another hour before she would come close enough to take the treat that I had left on the floor. After several hours she let me scratch her neck and played with her mouse toy at my feet. Success! I still can’t pick her up but we have established a bond.
So why the long rambling story about a feral cat learning about her new home? Because it reminded me of a favorite Bible verse. Mirabel’s gradual acceptance of us gave me a bit of insight into my own relationship with God. We are not born into God’s family. We are adopted. A friend of mine had adopted a child as an infant. From the moment that baby came home from the hospital with them, they were a family. They told the child at a young age that he was adopted but that didn’t change the family dynamics. Their son knew he belonged. It can be a rocky transition for an older child. I have other friends who have fostered with the goal of adoption. These children are dropped off with their clothing in a plastic bag and nothing else but painful memories that they are trying to process. They are not sure where they belong and it will take time to develop trust and finally love between the child/teen and foster/adoptive parent. We come to Christ in much the same state, beat up by the trials we have endured and not inclined to trust this God who offers what sounds too good to be true. Even those who accept Christ as a child have to grow into that adoption and will struggle with the doubts and fears that come with that growth. Only through the Holy Spirit can God begin the transformation of our souls to prepare us for our eternal destination. And it will take time, a lifetime of time. Our God is so patient, waiting for us to come to Him asking for forgiveness and inviting Him to begin the restorative work that only God can do for us. He stands at the door and knocks waiting for that invitation.
As I waited for Mirabel to come to me, I thought of how I have pulled away from God when I didn’t like unpleasant circumstances. That fragile bud of trust that was opening in my heart would often snap shut when hurt, pain or fear swept over me. At such times I repeat this verse to myself.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
I remember stumbling across this verse a while ago and being struck by the thought that God longs to show me kindness. I thought that I was doing a great job in my Christian walk but verses like this help me to see that I am still learning how to live in this newfound trust. And the promise of that last verse. It says that as we learn to trust God’s timing in our lives, God blesses us!
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
I share this today as a part of my own journey and hope you find it encouraging too. We spend our earthly time learning to trust that those everlasting arms really can catch us. Adoption is not an easy process but a child can learn to trust when a parent uses love and patience to build a family.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!
1 John 3:1