My poor dog got into something that didn’t sit well with her and the results were less-than-desirable.

“Mom, Bella got sick again in the house,” my daughter told me over the phone when she got home from school. Our black Lab is an old lady and accidents are becoming a bit too frequent.

“Okay, well, if you could clean it up for me, please . . . ”

“No, mom. I don’t mean that she did her normal stuff. It’s like, all over the place.”

Being the kind mom that I am, I tried not to laugh (and failed miserably), but once I walked in the door later that evening, I was at a loss as to what caused me to think it had been funny. I’ll save you the visual and will just say my main floor resembled a litter box without the litter.

It took a few days, but somehow my pup’s illness and my formerly white carpet began teaching me a little something about sin and grace.

  1. Sin is Messy

I can’t bear to really go into this one in terms of the dog stuff. We’ll just say it was beyond disgusting and that our family bonding time for several nights in a row included all of us spraying carpet cleaner and scrubbing with all of our might.

All too often, I want to think that my sin isn’t so bad or that no one else can see it. Let’s just say I’ll be lucky if after multiple rounds of shampooing the carpets that people won’t be able to see the effects of Bella being sick.

2. Sin has Some Real Consequences–And Oftentimes Affects Others

Let me repeat: we spent many nights scrubbing. Trust me, that’s a consequence I would have gladly avoided. I had multiple proposals due around that same time and I’d already slotted the time after the kids went to bed for wrapping things up, yet that quickly fell to the side as I attempted to clean the carpets, which meant I had to stay up even later to work on one job before waking up early to head to another. The consequences had many layers, extending to several people.

Years ago, I was fired from a job for something my then-husband did. We were hired as a couple, so his violation of the company’s code of conducts resulted in us being fired as a couple. I’m pretty sure that the once-hubs thought his (once) secret sin only affected him, but let me tell you, the impact it had on my world was astronomical.

3. Sin Entangles and Causes more Sin

My poor pup continued to do her I-won’t-mention-thing. I couldn’t let her continue doing it across the carpet, but she loathes being outside without us and barks as if a burglar is about to come and carry off every valuable in the house. I wouldn’t subject my neighbors to her barking, so I moved her bowl into the bathroom, laid out a blanket, and locked her in the  place with very wipeable linoleum.

As I said, Bella was sick, and well, sick dogs do sick things. She did her stuff across the floor, the very place she had to sleep. Um, did I mention that sin is messy? So much for thinking that it isn’t!

In the morning, I put Bella out back while I scraped away one layer of “sin.” Once the fan brought the stench down to a 9, I let Bella back in and went back upstairs to finish getting ready for work.

“Mom, there’s a loud banging noise coming from the bathroom,” Micayla told me as she raced up the steps.

I went downstairs to find my dog thrashing around, attempting to get the air vent off of her collar. Apparently, as she laid on the floor, her tags fell into the grate, so once she moved, the entire register clung to her side.

I’ll once again save you the visual and simply say that the struggle to free a dog from a register while making sure you don’t touch the “sin” matted in her fur is challenging and gross. It felt like a sin snowball, growing by the second.

4. It Takes a lot of Work to Undo Sin

My carpets will never be the same. Fortunately, I live in a rental and the flooring attests to that fact. However, for as dirty as they once appeared, those dingy gray days are but a faint memory as a new, non-white color has graced the playroom and living room.

And that’s after all the scrubbing.

And shampooing.

And attempting a few things that I won’t even mention (some because they were an absolute flop).

My analogy falls painfully short, but work with me here. The kids and I had to do something gross. Something that went against our desires and natural bent. We put sweat into it (yes, truly). It. was. hard.

And then there’s the cross. Again, the analogy falls short, but you get the picture. It was disgusting.

A lot of sweat and blood went into it.

It went against common sense.

And came at a very high price.

5. It Might be Caused by Someone Else

Ugh, I tried avoiding this one, but here it is.

Want to know the cause of my dog’s sickness?

Me.

Yup, me.

I am wholly, fully the culprit, although in my defense, that was not my intent. I just thought my dog would like a nice, big bone. So perhaps it had been cooked, but it looked so strong and hearty. What a great treat for her, I reasoned.

And yes, she loved it. She even laid in the grass for over an hour while we were inside and chewed the thing to bits.

Yes, bits. As in the little piece that apparently got lodged internally that she um, well, worked at quite forcefully to get to come out.

I paid some for the mistake (okay, more than some. The vet bill almost made me leave similar piles on the floor as my ailing dog), but ultimately, Bella is the one who had to deal with it. One could say it wasn’t fair. Actually, it wasn’t, just like life.

Just like the times when something happens and somehow, in some way. we use it as an excuse to justify our sin.

As if my dog wanted to keep walking around with feces stuck in her fur.

Or we want to keep doing things that, if we’re honest, are equally as nauseating.

Someone else hurt us. Said something horrible or betrayed in a way that is unimaginable. It. Is. Awful.

Undoubtedly so.

But to stay there, to lie in it like my dog in the layered-0n bathroom floor, well, it’s messy. And stinky. And just downright disgusting.

Not to mention that it undermines the power of the One who can clean and redeem like none other.

In the midst of the scrubbing, I realized there was something else that needed to be cleansed: my heart and my view on sin. Perhaps you care to join me. If so, here’s part of a song that echoed throughout over and over:

“Restore unto me the joy of my salvation

And renew a right spirit within me.”

Oh, the joy of a grace that renews and restores even when we’re so undeserving.

Stacy Voss