I think it’s time to introduce you to another member of our family, if you haven’t already met him. Meet Yoggie, my youngest son’s best friend since before he even reached a year old. Austin couldn’t say his d’s when he was really little, and the name stuck.
For those of you who have had children with a favorite stuffed animal, you know the joy and frustration that comes with this attachment. Jason and I have been “those parents.” You know, the ones making late night trips across town to retrieve Yoggie from a home where he inadvertently found himself left behind. I can count on one hand the number of times Austin has slept without him in the last 6 years of his life.
We wondered what would happen when Austin went to kindergarten. Initially, he told everyone Yoggie would be joining him in his backpack daily. He promised he wouldn’t take him out. When the day came, he decided to leave him behind. He stood at the door and told Yoggie how much he loved him and that he would play with him when he got back home. He kissed him quickly on the nose and then tossed him down by the front door. As soon as he burst in the house after that first day he picked Yoggie up, wrapped him in a bear hug, and proclaimed how much he missed him all day. If only I could have received such affection! Mom comes second to Yoggie in many ways, and I’m okay with that. Austin has repeated this routine daily for the last three weeks.
This is how Yoggie used to look:
Kind of shocking, I know. From white to a dingy gray, Yoggie boasts evidence of Austin’s great love. You can see it in his worn tail, patched nose, scratched eyeballs, and dingy gray coat. Our oldest refuses to get near Yoggie. “Ewww, he stinks, get him away!” he hollers if Austin gets Yoggie too close. We do give him baths in his very own pillowcase in the washing machine, but admittedly they are few and far between.
Yoggie has lost quite a bit of stuffing along the way. One day I decided to remedy the situation and re-stuffed him with some quilt batting I had in the closet. I proudly presented him to Austin, only to be assailed with wails of indignation. “What did you do??? Yoggie’s fat! Fix him!” Not the reaction I had anticipated. I immediately ripped a bunch of the stuffing back out and sewed him up. All was right with the world again.
I cannot help but think this is how God views us: loved unconditionally with our bumps, bruises, tears, scrapes, and even our stink. God anxiously waits for time with us and is thrilled when we decide to show up and spend some time with Him. He loves us as is and for us there is no replacement. We tried one time to replace Yoggie with an identical dog with the exception of the color. Austin would have nothing to do with it. True friends cannot be replaced with a cheap imitation.
I hope you have someone on this earth who loves you that way, but if you don’t, know that there is Someone who does, and He’s standing right at the door of your heart.