We adopted a kitten in mid September. Her name is Mar-Vel and she is truly marvelous. However, just how marvelous she would be was not readily apparent from our initial interactions.
She started life as a feral cat and was trapped as a part of a group effort to catch, spay/neuter and rehome 45 feral cats in our neighborhood. Yep – 45 CATS- Uff-da!! It was quite the undertaking. But, after three months of trapping, handling, transporting for surgery and rehoming, all the cats were living in places that would care for them with no fear of starvation. What a thankless, but rewarding, job.
My hubby and I took her in after she had been spayed, which was mid September. When Mar-Vel came into our home, she was absolutely terrified of us. Just walking into the room where she was placed to adjust to our home would cause her to run and hide. She began her life in a large kennel with her basic necessities, a scratch couch and a blankie to sleep on – babies gotta have a blankie! 😉
Gradually she warmed to our presence as we entered the room to feed and care for her. Even as she warmed up to us any noise would startle her back into hiding mode. At some point we decided it was ok to let her loose full time in the confines of her bedroom, confident she would at least come out from under the bed with a bit of quiet time and patience…oh and food, lol!
Mar-Vel grew to trust us as she realized we were not there to harm her. Food, petting and playing were the foundation of our relationship. After a length of time in her room, during which she grew to pine for us when we weren’t there to love on her, we decided it was time to introduce her to our other cat. Oh Boy!
Reiman, our big male cat of 12 pounds, was understandably intimidating to Mar-Vel who weighed in at a mere 6 pounds. He was not thrilled to have ANY competition for his parent’s affection and showed it in many ways. His behavior included a few deep growls, a few harmless, but effective, hisses and some marking of her space (using her litter box) which served to let this intruder know who was in charge in this household.
Overall, she was relatively unfazed by his efforts to terrify her. Instead, she was comforted by knowing that we would not let anything hurt her. Mar-Vel showed a deep desire to snuggle, play and connect with Reiman. Though her affections towards him were met with utter rejection. That also did not seem to phase her in the least and that’s when I noticed her changing and growing in her boldness and in the expansion of her personality.
Eventually, she was released to wander our whole house and experience all the wonders of house cat life. Many wonders scared the crap out of her, including if my husband or I moved too quickly. She often chose to hide under our living room chairs for safety. Eventually, she would jump into my lap for a pet, briefly at first, but each time grew longer and her purrs came more quickly.
About three months after her life began with us, I had a major surgery. This surgery left me homebound 24/7 for 6 weeks. That deep immersion time with Mar-Vel changed her life forever, and mine, if I am honest. Her fears shrank, her trust grew and her deep affection for both Greg and I was a wonder to behold.
Her personality and boldness grew exponentially with deep immersion time with her human parents. It left us in wonder…was this the same scared little kitten who had entered our house completely terrified? Had she been kitty-napped and swapped with another identical kitty? Absolutely and of course, not! Rather, her time near us, getting to know us, growing in trust and in love with us changed her little furry life. She had gone from Feral to Fearless, what a grand transformation!
I can’t help but compare her life to my own walk with God. As I have grown to know God more, my love for him has grown, my trust for him has grown and my deep knowledge of his character and love for me has changed my life. He has helped me go from Fearful to Feral, allow me to expound a bit…
I lived in fear for many years of my life. Often it was fear for my life as I grew up with severe asthma and nearly lost my life more times than I would like to admit. I also lived in constant fear of abandonment and rejection. I wondered if I would be worthy of love from others and decided, in my own mind, that I had to work hard to be worthy of anyone’s love. Fear of abandonment was always there, as well, and these fears became the driving force of my life. So, instead of living in freedom, I found myself Fearful. Scared to be me, living in fear that everyone I knew and loved would walk away from the true me if I dared show myself.
Then, I met Jesus…and by that I mean I really MET Jesus. My eyes were opened to his deep love for me when I looked deeply into my eyes in an exercise class. As I gazed into my own eyes in a mirror I saw/felt how much I hated myself. I loathed the skin I was in and once I recognized that, I immediately knew how much God longed to set me free from that self-loathing and how much he longed for me to know how much he loved me.
It wasn’t an instantaneous transformation of my thinking, but rather it has been a journey. The first thing I came to realize is that my worth wasn’t dependent on anything in this world. My worth was only set by him and he would never abandon me or turn me away. My worth to him was priceless, no matter what I did or what anyone else thought about me.
This began the journey of me walking closer with him. I realized that he was not separate from me, far away judging me, but rather that he was living inside of me as one with me. When I started to truly understand that, my life really began to change. As I started to comprehend and accept his unconditional love for me I could no longer live my life being less than who he designed me to be.
I am still unpacking exactly who he made me to be, but just like my kitty, I can walk in full trust knowing he won’t let anything take me out. He is calling me to walk from Fearful to Feral as he calls me back to the wildness within his heart. I walk with this verse in my heart and mind as a constant reminder:
Time to get rid of the timid and bring out the bold. Fear may be riding in my car, but it doesn’t get to drive. Instead, these days I am actually guided by fear sometimes – sounds odd perhaps – but if I am feeling fear about anything, I pause and take that to God to sort out the source of the fear. Then, I stomp on it ridding myself of it OR I push through it to the side of faith knowing that fear does not define or limit me in any way.
I will be Feral in the eyes of many and I will look fearless in the eyes of many, but the only eyes that matter to me are the eyes of Jesus and when I see them, I see love and hope and fire to change the world. So, come be Feral with me and kick fear to the curb!