The only Billy Graham column that I recall ever reading had a heading that captured my eye. If I recall correctly, it read “Puppy Love.” In his column, Dr. Graham responded to a mother's exhortation to “Please set my son straight and tell him in your column that he is too young to know ‘Real Love’. I have tried to explain that his ‘puppy love’ is not real," she explained further "but he will not listen to me. I know that he will listen to you.”
Billy Graham’s response etched itself into my consciousness and altered my perspective on the legitimacy of the viewpoint of others forever. He simply said “It is Real to the Puppy.”
Thank you Dr. Graham!
I hit my thumb with a hammer yesterday. And do you know, it did not even occur to me to say “There are people in this world with far worse problems.” Oh no! What I said was "__!!" Well, never mind what I actually said … that is more than you need know. But, My Dear Reader, I think that you begin to see where we are going here. That throbbing thumb did not get recognized with the cool detachment, of some applied table of relative Sufferings. It consumed all of my attention for not only that instant, but each time that I bumped it against something for the balance of the day. It was very real to this Puppy!
And so it is with all of us. We apply every fiber of ourselves to whatever is served up,on our personal “plate of circumstances.” We do not adjust our response to some scale of presupposed priorities. When that Circumstance is served up, by Life, to us … it gets all of our undivided attention. It has become our immediate responsibility, and we rise to meet whatever it requires.
Then along comes the parade of “Supporters”, the Well-Wishers, those who deign themselves to be our Care-Inflictors. And they come with their endless variety of platitudes. “Well Dear, you know, don’t you, that it could be worse,” or “I see, Dear, but, you know … I knew someone who had a far worse circumstance,” or “Oh my, that is not nearly as serious a problem as ___” (and they begin to fill that blank in with Stuff that amazes you in its voluminous quantities.) What about (I ask) a simple, brief, and sincere “I am so sorry.” How about a tiny bit of empathy! Hey folks … this is the Real Deal to this Puppy!
So today, Dear Friend, I ask not how your pain compares to the pain of others. I ask “Do you have pain?” And if you do … “I am so sorry.” For I would not that your life be aggravated, harassed, or vexed by pain, discomfort, or inconvenience of any sort or variety.
My sixty-two years has blessed me with many and varied pains, confusions, unhappinesses, and miseries. I know how lonely suffering is. And I would lessen and even eliminate all or part of what you are now hosting were it in my power.
What is, most certainly, in my power is my capacity and willingness to love and care about you. So, Dear One, please permit my Spirit to reassure you that you are, most certainly, not alone, right now … in this moment of your reading … You are thought of. Though I know not your name … The One who does know You knows the legitimacy of my care for you. This Puppy loves you.
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