I have a joyful dog named Gracie, who has never met a stranger and thinks the world is a magical place. I take her to work with me so she can spread joy to the downtrodden. She loves the Agency and greets everyone as friends. But her favorite friends are the birds in the backyard. She runs outside each day to where they await. The birds will almost let her catch them, then chirp and take flight as she chases them. They fly low to the ground and circle over the pond, taunting her as they go. Once, she jumped in the pond in hopes of catching them.

Enchanting. At least I thought it was until my husband clued me into something a city girl like myself wouldn’t know. He told me Gracie’s friends are a species called Killdeer, and they are not playing with her. They are leading her away from their nest and trying to drown her in the pond! What the what?! Gracie’s best friends are back-stabbing haters? My feelings were immediately hurt for her.

But the thing is, Gracie is a jubilant little dog that doesn’t bother herself with things like overthinking or worrying about the motives of others. To her, the quality of a relationship isn’t based on her friends’ intentions or what they think of her. It is based on her belief system. Gracie has the confidence of someone who knows she’s loved unconditionally.

Most Christians say we know God loves us unconditionally, but we don’t live like it. And we certainly don’t do relationships like Gracie does. We act as if the quality of our lives depends upon the quality of love offered by others, but is that true? Do we need to worry about the intentions of others? Is Gracie brilliant, or is she a chump?

If happiness is an indicator of a successful life, Gracie is an Einstein when it comes to living loved. She has figured out the boundaries in her friendships, like staying out of the pond and on the property, enabling her to enjoy all the woodland creatures in the backyard. Bunnies, birds, you name it, she plays with it. The idea that her friends aren’t enjoying her never crosses her mind. The world is a friendly place for her because she knows she’s protected by those who love her.

Last year I wrote an article about her entitled, Gracie, the Teflon Doggy, because she never let negativity stick to her. As I wrote it, I secretly feared she would outgrow that attitude once she hit adulthood and had experienced some life. She has not outgrown her sunny disposition.  It’s only solidified. And as silly as this may sound, as I watch her, I feel God challenging me to let down the walls around my heart.  I think He wants me to love others as though my life doesn’t depend upon their loving me in return. But their lives may depend upon my showing them God’s love. I can’t do that if I’m busy worrying about getting hurt.

Are you sick of overthinking your relationships and worrying about the motive of others? Are you tired of laying in your bed at night, ruminating about the conversations you’ve had throughout the day, looking for things you said wrong? I know I am. Let’s live with the confidence that we are fully loved and protected.  And if you have a few Killdeers chirping in your ear, so what? Show them the love of Jesus and stay out of the pond!

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