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25 March 2008

Pressure Points

Jesse the Cat is not remarkably fat or particularly hulking, but he weighs enough for me to think, "Hey, this cat is heavy!" on the occasions that I pick him up.

Sometimes when I'm in bed, either when I lie down at night or first thing in the morning (but always when I'm awake), he enjoys walking up to my face and essentially saying, "Hey, let me brush the side of my face against your goatee." (I have an odd relationship with pets, I think. I don't think of them as a part of the family in the way that many pet owners do, but I do really like them. I consider myself to be an animal lover, but don't get into the anthropomorphism thing. A cat is a cat, not a human -- would you drink out of a toilet?)

Anyhow, as I said, Jesse is not grossly overweight, but when he walks up over my stomach to get to my face, his weight is distributed through his paws, and this creates small pressure points that don't feel too good. It would be like briefly balancing a 10- to 15-pound weight on a stalk on your stomach. Even for a couple of seconds, it's not terribly pleasant.

I’ve been asked before, “Hey, what do you think about this brochure [or other thing] I’ve just made?” While I’m hopeful that my responses to these kinds of questions have all been constructively encouraging and not defeating or harsh, I’m sure that I’ve been guilty of being too heavy-handed: “Hey, you’re using 20 different fonts on this page. That clipart looks like it’s from the 80’s. I didn’t know it was possible to use 16.7 million colors in a single publication.” (I’ve never said anything quite like this, but I fear that this sentiment has sometimes been conveyed.)

James 1:19 (NLT) says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

Let each of us, as Christ-followers, carefully consider the manner in which we “encourage” others. In the case of Jesse the Cat, it’s nice and what-not that he wants to share some pet/owner bonding, but the manner in which he does it is actually a bit painful. I don’t suggest that we veil our feelings, but I believe it is of paramount importance to consider how we would feel were we on the receiving end of our comments and criticisms.

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