The kitten was downright ugly. With bulging eyes and a pointy chin, its odd face looked forlorn and despondent. While its three adorable siblings pounced at each other’s tails and cheerfully looked up with wide blue eyes at their audience of pedestrians who barely gave the “FREE” sign a second glance, the sad-eyed kitten sat pathetically by itself in one corner of the cardboard box which now made up its temporary home. The shy pitiful feline must have been the runt of the litter. Anyone peering into the tattered box on the sidewalk could see it.
Anyone, that is, except my nine-year-old son who had just been told he could choose one to take home for his very own. After bouncing up and down and clapping his hands together in wild joy, he now purposefully paused his exuberance long enough to quietly crouch down with bent knees, rock back and forth on his heels, and gaze delightedly at his options.
With intent eyes, he observed each kitten, quickly made his choice, and then without taking the time to second guess his decision, his small hands immediately went to the scrawny kitten and scooped him up delightedly with a happy cheer.
The poor kitten looked as confused as I.
Yet, this single kitten was the one my little boy had chosen. The one he wanted. The one whose velvety gray fur he was already gently stroking and rubbing across his own soft cheek. I stood quietly nearby and watched as my young son whispered his promises to love and care for this little creature forever.
Seeing some hidden inner worth, my nine-year-old placed great value on a life that others were ignoring. Perhaps he knew what I am still trying to learn. His actions reminds me even today that beauty is truly skin deep and that often, value lies hidden beneath the irrelevant.
And what happened to that ugly little kitten? He was lovingly named “Whiskers” and grew into a handsome and sturdy cat that enjoyed lazing in the sunshine and sauntering royally about the house. His thin fur grew into a handsome coat and he was known for rumbling a magnificent and contented purr. Fully reciprocating all of the love that had been given to him, he provided years of affection and companionship to a little boy who looked past his outer appearance and saw instead — a waiting friendship.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this simple love story primarily reminds me that our loving Heavenly Father also saw each of us in our piteous need, yet ignored our hideous unworthiness as He scooped us up to join his Kingdom. Grateful for that saving redemption, may each of us live with our eyes wide open to see past the obvious and search for the hidden friendship in all people (and creatures!) around us.