Many of my church family and friends are aware that I’ve never been a cat lover. As far as I can recollect, my fear of cats began as a result of a family vacation. One summer in my early elementary years we traveled from our home in Illinois to visit my uncle in Tennessee for a few days. It was a full house because both families had four children. Our bed at night was sleeping on the living room floor with my siblings and cousins. Unfortunately they also had two Siamese cats. I can still remember lying on the floor in the middle of the night seeing two sets of glowing (devilish) eyes staring at me while trying to sleep. The cats preyed around me on floors and furniture as if they were ready to pounce whenever I closed my eyes. On top of that, they had a terrible hiss. That memory has haunted me to this day.

When the pandemic started in early March we were asked to shelter in place. I found myself spending lots of time reading outside with some of the family in the back of the house. I was unaware of a black stray cat that was wandering the neighborhood. On several days, we noticed the cat coming around us. I can’t explain it, but for some reason this cat seemed to like me. It purred and approached me on multiple occasions. I was hesitant, but for some reason it’s demeanor toward me turned my fear into empathy.  She seemed hungry and lonely. We began to feed the cat and named her Midnight.  I began to find that most early mornings when I woke up to workout I would find Midnight waiting outside for me to feed her.  Another day, I was out reading alone and she strolled up next to me and before I knew it she hopped up into my lap.  She just wanted a little love and for some reason I was no longer fearful, but comfortable in giving her some.  It’s been three months now, and recently I sat down on the outside steps to tie my shoes and I looked up to see Midnight running across the driveway to see me. It blew me away!

I guess I’ve had a breakthrough of sorts. I’m still not sure I like all cats, but I know I’ve grown fond of this one.  My friends and family have been shocked at my response. I think some might be disappointed, though I’m not sure why.  I know this, Midnight has taught me a couple of lessons.

The first lesson is that relationships have the power of breaking through our fears. As a result of getting to know Midnight, I have found myself less fearful of something that I’ve had great fears about all my life.  Who makes you fearful?  It might be a boss, a sibling, a teacher, someone from a different culture or someone without the same skin color.  Whoever it might be, I’m convinced if you would allow yourself the opportunity to get to know them and become closer to them, your fears will subside.  Relationships invite us to empathize and understand each other, pushing our fear away and changing our hearts,

Midnight’s initiative also reminds us that though we may be afraid or uncertain about what God thinks about us, we can be sure that He desires to become closer to us. We don’t have to fear God because He loves us and desires a relationship with us.

The psalmist said, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed”                 (Psalm 34:18). 

Wherever you find yourself today, God is drawing near to you inviting you to open your heart to Him because He cares for you.