Synopsis (from Amazon): The Secret Life of Pets meets The Wizard of Oz in this debut graphic novel about a spunky pup who gets trapped in a world filled with magic, adventure, and one giant, grumpy monster.
Discussion: My son and I enjoyed this graphic novel about a dog who falls down a hole into a different world. The dog, Mellybean, wants to return home but must first help a giant misunderstood monster. At the end of the book, the author had a note about Mellybean being based on his dog. I don’t have it before me, but I remember it being a comment about the importance of the dog just being himself. I got the impression that the author loved his dog just because his dog existed, not based on any accomplishment of the dog.
I don’t particularly feel comfortable comparing the love we have for our pets to the love we have for our children. Mainly because, as a society, we have elevated our pets to children status, which is a sign of a disordered society lacking an understanding of creation. Given this, I do want to discuss the love we have for our pets, for our children, and the love God has for us (His children).
I have two dogs I enjoy solely because they exist and are my dogs. Not because they can perform awesome tricks or have any significant accomplishments. My feelings for my dogs are minor compared to the love I have for my children. I love my children just because they exist and are mine. Not because of their accomplishments or anything they add to my life. I love them, for just being them.
When I contemplate how minor my feelings are for my dogs compared to my children, I imagine the love for my children seems little compared to the love God has for His children. God is love (1 Jn 4:7-21) and is, therefore, the source of all love.
God loves us just because we exist.
As humans, we focus on accomplishments and base our worth on our accomplishments. Therefore, it can seem like we have to earn our worth by accomplishing something great.
This is a lie. God delights in us just because we exist. We make the world better just by being in it. Just because we were created. If we don’t believe we are “very good” just by our creation from God (Gen 1:26-31), we might begin to have self-loathing thoughts.
God delights and rejoices in us solely because we exist. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15: 11-32) is often viewed as a story about a father’s forgiveness. However, it is also important to remember it is a story about a father’s love. He loved both his sons regardless of one son accomplishing a lot in his life and the other son accomplishing nothing in his life. It didn’t matter to the father. He loved and rejoiced in both of them.
If we believe and accept that God loves us, we will start to work on our relationship with God. Through this relationship with God and our love of God, we will desire to become a more virtuous person. Even though God loves and accepts us as we are today just because we exist, God wants us to grow and become the best human we can be.
Everything we do should start with the love of God. Once we exist in His love, we will have a love for ourselves, and then we can begin to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mt. 22:39). If God delights in us solely because we exist, we should delight in ourselves and others solely because we exist. Not based on anything we have done or they have done. One of my favorite quotes of St. Therese de Lisieux from Story of Soul:
“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”
We love our neighbors as they are, with all their defects.
When we accept the love of God and return that love, we strive to be a better person. I think the same can be said for loving our neighbor. If we love them and they return that love, we all may strive to be better for each other because we love each other.
This book is from an author who loves his dog, Mellybean, because the dog exists. In the book, he portrays Mellybean to have this type of love. Mellybean accepts the Giant Monster from the moment he meets him. The Giant Monster grows in character and virtue through the book, just because Mellybean loved him.