Before my family and I moved to our current home, we lived in a house about 15 minutes outside of town. One of the great things about this house was the gate that connected our backyard to the backyard of a family we became good friends with. To know this family was to love them, and to love them was to love their pig.
I will never forget the day my husband and I drove with them about two hours away to buy a potbelly pig as a surprise gift for their three kids. Taking one look at this bundle of snuggly black sweetness, I fell instantly in love. His baby oinking was no less cute than a kitten’s mew or a puppy’s cry. Completely spellbound, I cuddled him all the way home in the car before grudgingly handing him over to three excited kids.
Albert, as he became known (thanks to my naming prowess) grew and grew and grew. He also spent quite a bit of time in my backyard, snout to the ground snorting up every last piece of blooming weed (wow, that doesn’t sound good!). I loved it. Free lawn care! I also loved Albert. However, he had a mind of his own. Like any human baby, his cuteness started to dim in the light of his attitude, and I had had more than one altercation with this pig.
On one particular day, he was in my backyard snorting up weeds (there’s got to be a better way to say this!) his tail wagging happily. His owners were gone, and I was “keeping an eye on him.” About an hour into “pig sitting” my next-door neighbor knocked on my door and through the screen beckoned me outside.
“Kathryn, you need to get out here,” she said. “The pig is eating my neighbor’s cherry tomatoes!”
I couldn’t believe it. Where was my head? How’d Albert get out of the backyard? Apparently, someone left the side gate open, and to this day no one’s claiming responsibility for that. No matter. I had bigger problems. Sure enough, there he was inhaling as many cherry tomatoes as he could his tail never missing a beat as it swung back and forth like a pendulum.
Letting out a screech I ran back home and grabbed a box of cereal. This usually worked in getting him to move in the direction you want him to move. But this time he wasn’t budging. Why eat dry cereal when you can have someone else’s ripe tomatoes?
What I did next still baffles me, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I sprinted at that pig like an Olympian and hoisted him up into my arms and out of the vegetable garden. Albert bore absolutely no resemblance to his former cuteness. Gone was the tiny black body replaced by about 100 pounds of flesh and a body full of black prickly hair. His baby oink became what you’d expect from a grown male pig: loud and not cute.
My neighbor starred in awe at first as I attempted to wrangle this creature into submission. I moved as quickly as I could given the sheer heft I was carrying. I huffed and puffed. He oinked and screeched. And then it happened. A warm, wet, gloppy substance ran down my leg. In disbelief I looked at my neighbor, whose head was now thrown back in silent laughter, then back at the pig.
“You stupid pig,” I yelled. “You pooped on my leg!”
Did I really think informing him of his transgression would elicit remorse? First, he knew what he’d done. Second, he so didn’t care. With the strength of a Viking, I ran that pig through my house, out my sliding door, through my backyard and into his own slamming the gate behind me. And then I cried at the grossness running down my legs.
What could this possibly have to do with anything spiritual, you ask? I was reminded of this story earlier this week as I thought about my relationship with the Lord. There are so many times He gently nudges me to move in a direction, that quite frankly I have no desire to move in. I get stuck in my rut with how I spend my time, what I consider a priority and what my goals are.
I often joke that when my husband is in the middle of a graduate class his focus is so razor sharp that the kids and I could be slaying each other with sharp objects and he’d never catch it. He’s that focused.
I’m not so different. Sometimes I can be coaxed into obedience by God’s gentle nudgings. Other times, He’s left with no choice but to pick me up and move me Himself despite my kicking and screaming. Do I behave as irrationally as a pig being moved out of a vegetable garden against their will? Do I look that ridiculous? Am I as pigheaded as a pig? Are you? Just something to think about.