One of the ladies who was doing songs and other things at the Earth Day celebration at the Nature Center this morning at one point brought out her pet chinchilla and bearded dragon. She mentioned how cute, cuddly, soft things like chinchillas are easy to love. But rough, scaly, ugly creatures like a bearded dragon requires extra effort to love. But they're lovable all the same, once you pour some time into them.
I got to thinking that it's the same with all God's creatures--especially people. It's easy to love the attractive, friendly people. It's hard to love those who are rough around the edges, disagreeable and "ugly." But they're still lovable. And we're called to love them. It may take some extra effort and work.
Admittedly, it's less appealing to love the bearded dragon. Chinchillas are easy. You want to touch them, hold them, cuddle them. Unless you are a herpetologist, bearded dragons force us to overcome our revulsion to even get close to them. They make us get out of our comfort zone before we touch them. They require us to look beneath the surface to love them.
We all have bearded dragons in our life: a rude co-worker, an unfriendly neighbor, that kid who doesn't behave (maybe we're even a bearded dragon to someone else). It takes work to love those kind of people. But doesn't anything worthwhile require work (such as marriage, parenting and even work for that matter)? Relationships are seldom easy, but some are much harder than others.
I'm reminded of the lesson Atticus teaches Jem & Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by making Jem read to Mrs. Dubose. Scout and Jem learned that there was more to Mrs. Dubose than her mean demeanor as Atticus explains her bravery and courage. She wasn't easy to love (and really, only later in life to Jem & Scout see why Atticus had them get to know her), but the children were taught invaluable lessons from their time with her.
I suspect (though I don't know as I have little experience with them) that bearded dragons have lessons for us as well. I do have experience with the human variety (though, admittedly, not as much as I should), and though loving them takes much work, but we grow through our relationship with them. Not to say we should ignore the chinchillas--indeed, I think we need them in our life to recharge us--but we also need to reach out to the bearded dragons.