Clean Hands, Clean Heart – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. I hereby issue an edict. Lady Human must wash her hands before she touches me.

Me:        What? Why? I wash my hands a lot.

Stella:    Not from what I scented off you just now.

Me:        Well, somebody has to clean up around here.

Stella:    Don’t look at me!

Me:        I don’t.

Stella:    Get Sweetie to help you. She knows how to mop. But then she’ll need to wash her paws before she plays with me.

Me:        Okay. What about you when you go prancing through the dirt and mud? You don’t wash your paws before you start putting them on me.

Stella:    Different.

Me:        How?

Stella:    My paws are naturally clean.

Me:        Really?

Stella:    Here. Smell.

Me:        Uh, no thank you, but anyway.

Stella:    Here. Smell.

Me:        Uh, I don’t really smell anything but dog.

Stella:    See! I don’t stink. Now go wash your hands and you can pet me.

Me:        How gracious of you, Stella.

Stella:    Yes. Yes, it is. Now go wash your hands. I want to be petted. Clean hands, clean heart.

Me:        Where did you hear that?

Stella:    One of those things you were reading aloud out of that book that smells good like leather.

Me:        Oh, right. I guess I wasn’t listening to what I was reading. That’s from Psalm 24 in the Bible. But I don’t think it means that you will have a clean heart if you wash your hands.

Stella:    Clean heart or not, you are not petting me until you wash your hands.

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

Heart Enlargement

How large is my heart? Not the blood pump in my chest but the essence of me. For quite a while my life has been played out on a very small stage and that has been pointed out to me by my reactions to the arrival of the bulldogs. I had no room within me to accept even one of them when Stella came. I looked at her and judged her too big, too smelly, too ugly. I knew nothing about bulldogs or their personalities, their affectionate nature, their silliness, their gift for making me laugh. And sigh. She was too big for my small heart.

No one wants to think of themselves as too small. We are not tight-fisted or stingy. No, we are thrifty, frugal, practical, and good stewards. We are not hard hearted. We are reserved, stoic, perhaps dispassionate, but that can be good, right? We use all manner of euphemisms for ourselves and speak the truth only about others.

What if God looked on us the way we look at others? What if He valued us only as much as we value those around us? (Uh-oh. That’s a scary thought.) Thankfully, He is kinder than that. I needed to enlarge my capacity to love and I believe He is using these dogs for a reason – there is nothing they can do for me in this big, cold, practical world. They can’t buy me a car or give me a job or make my breakfast or clip my toenails. They can only be what they are – dogs. I take care of them and they can’t pay me back. Not with money or services or stuff anyway. No quid pro quo. They give only what they can.

Bit by bit, dog by dog, my heart has been expanding.

In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said that we should specifically invite people to our banquets who cannot repay us. There is no loss to us in that bargain.

How much room do I have in my heart for all these dogs or anyone or anything else? I asked that question before the birth of my second child. How large is my heart? Do I have room to accept one more? A neighbor told me the truth. God enlarges your heart.

“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 KJV


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved