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  • Elizabeth R Billingsley

Hard Decisions, Hard Transitions, Lessons Learned






Hello everyone! This has been a bit of a hard week for me. I wanted to write about what was on my heart today so, let us begin.


A friendship transitioned into a non-friendship as of Thursday. I also had to let go of a pet this week. Hard week, hard decisions, hard transitions. However, they were not without good lessons. I always try to look at difficulties in such a way that I can ask myself three questions: 1) what can I learn from this, 2) what am I gaining during this time, and 3) does this really effect my identity in the King?


As many of you know, the loss of a pet can be devasting. It is even more devastating if that said pet gives you few choices. The animal you expected to live many years and be a constant home companion either succumbs to illness or the creature can’t adapt. In the case this week, my 4-year-old cat showed me she had never adapted to a two-cat household at all. Her aggression had been building for weeks, unexplained and not accompanied by illness. I had tried everything to let her know she was loved and cared for and help her bond to my other cat. It failed. When she nearly fatally injured my other cat, I had to make a hard decision. Early Friday morning, in tears, I turned her over to the animal shelter. They said they would try some other things to help her and get her adopted. I have been praying ever since for her to be adopted by a loving family into a one-cat home so she can be loved and feel more secure.


I have been thinking about this ordeal the last few days. I did not fail in my loving of this cat - she could not receive it. My other cat did not fail in trying to bond with her – she simply could not receive it. How many people and animals can’t receive love and acceptance because they simply won’t or can’t because of deep pain? Some of you may not believe animals are that complicated but I do and I know for a fact people are that complicated. Drawing boundaries for yourself or other animals because of a mal-adaptive behavior in that animal or person can be very hard, and very heart-breaking. Boundaries hurt sometimes but they are necessary to protect us from harm. In this case, harm to my younger cat and honestly me – my older cat had begun to look at me quite oddly at times, almost as if her mind was not quite right. This may be stretching it a bit for some of you but a violent animal and a violent human are somewhat the same – they cause chaos and create anxiety in others around them. I find it interesting that violence across species (human and animal) works the same harm, and the same pain. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for you, someone else, or in this case your animal, is let go. Two days have passed since I let my dear, beautiful, cat go. My house and my younger cat have no tension and my young cat is calmer and so am I (being awoken by a full-on cat fight is no fun, nor is having to break one up, or clean up afterwards). Peace is restored.


So, what is the lesson you ask? The lesson is simply this: I have decided at this point in my life that I will have peace and if someone or something disturbs that peace or harms someone or something I know and love, I will have to let it or them go. I am no longer responsible for someone’s or something’s lack of receptivity and inability or disinterest in change. As much as that hurts at times (and believe me it does), it is worth the restoration of peace for you, others, and your beloved pets. What have I gained? Peace for me and my other pet. My older cat came into my life when I needed her, in a time I was hurting very badly. She loved me the best she could for the time we had. I will always be thankful to her and remember her! Is my identity in the King secure? Absolutely! He understood and he understands our hard decisions more than we know. He also cares for our animals as much as we do.


Now, on to the human side of things. And no, I will not be identifying anyone as I am not in the business of humiliation or shaming so please do not ask me.


A good friendship turned non-friendship. To be honest, I had felt this relationship transitioning since October of 2020 when I felt something was “off.” I prayed about it over those next few months. The relationship improved over the holidays, or so it seemed. I have learned at this point in my life, people can say a lot but they aren’t always being honest with you or even honest with themselves. After the new year, I attended a small event at the friend’s house only to leave feeling very uncomfortable about the subject matter that had been the topic of discussion, and quite frankly, very uneasy about the friend and the atmosphere in the home. I began to pray about this situation in earnest. Work duties and late hours did not permit me to attend small weekly gatherings at this home again for several weeks. When the meeting day and time was changed, I thought I’d join again and see what the atmosphere and conversation was like after several weeks had come and gone. The problem with this is by the time we got to the day I was supposed to attend the small gathering, I had no peace - none, zero, zilch, nada about this friendship or the home. I was not about to ignore this (trust me, I have before and it did not work out well). I thought it best to pray and seek some direction instead of just blindly going back into the situation. I have never heard the Lord speak so clearly! I did not go to the gathering and I had a peace about not going immediately. Jesus was transitioning me out of that relationship. I honestly had a good conversation with her (or at least it seemed that way) when I told her my direction was changing and I would not be back for the time being. It was an easy conversation. The door closed this week on Thursday when my former friend decided she did not want contact with our group anymore. It was sudden and without cause or explanation. I will not try to pry a door open that Jesus has allowed to close. Some of you reading this would be wise to take the same advice.


Is my heart saddened by this? Absolutely, however, we have to let others make their choices and respect them or we do not love them. What have I learned? There are people who are lifetime friends, who are going in the same direction and will be with you for the long haul. There are people who are seasonal people and whose paths diverge from yours – either because they can’t go the way you are going, they won’t, or for reasons we won’t know on this side of Heaven. What have I gained? Even though I have lost a friend, I have gained perspective in that I firmly believe there are people who aren’t capable or won’t go where you are going and that is not my fault nor my responsibility. Jesus is also opening doors for me to cultivate better relationships and new relationships with others who are going in the same direction. That’s a win-win for me, new friends and seasoned friends alike, and the Kingdom of God. Is my identity in the King secure? Absolutely! No one can take that from me whether they are a friend or not, they did not give it to me. No one can steal my identity or my joy!


Thank you, readers for hearing my heart today. This has been therapeutic in its own way for me. No matter what happens to you in this life – don’t give up! Keep loving and keep moving in your God-given direction. Some will join you and some won’t. Life will hurt at times. We won’t have the answers. The King is always with us and He redeems anything we give Him – the hard decisions, transitions, and lessons. Be blessed on this Palm Sunday!



Love,



Elizabeth


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