Following your calling—even if it includes pet sitting

Every once in a while, I find myself in a situation that I never would have predicted.

Like letting a dog sleep in the same bed as me.

I don’t do the whole pet thing. It’s not that I dislike animals, but I also don’t have an affinity for them. I never ask strangers if I can pet their dogs because most of the time I prefer not to touch them. (I understand that some of you are judging me right now. Now you know how I feel when I meet people who don’t watch sports.)

Yet, for some reason, people frequently ask me to pet sit for them—and I honestly don’t mind.

It all started when I was in high school. We had a family friend who owned a big tank full of fish, and he paid me $20 a day to stop by his house once a day to feed the little swimmers when he and his wife were out of town. As a teenager who didn’t have much of a steady stream of income from my shifts at the Smoothie Factory and the tutoring center where I worked, this kind of money felt like a steal.

Since then, I’ve become a go-to for some people when they travel. I’ve taken care of dogs, cats, another fish (yes, just one—that is another interesting story in itself), a bird (I actually genuinely do not like birds), a rodent or two, and probably some other animal I’m forgetting. In most of the cases with dogs, I stay at the actual houses, but that time I fish sat just the one fish, it stayed with me. (Side note: Please ask me the story about how I was in the middle of moving when I was keeping that fish, and my mom ended up taking it with her in a grocery cart in Tom Thumb.) Once I even somehow ended up taking care of three different pets at three separate homes at the same time. I needed a nap that weekend.

We went on a walk to the park. Later I discovered that my shirt was on backward.

I don’t plan on getting a pet. In fact, I have zero desire to. But I like helping people, and I appreciate that they trust me enough with their beloved animals while they’re away. I’m not meant to be a pet owner, but I know I’m supposed to be there for the people I care about.

And sometimes being part of something for a little while is a necessary part of your journey.

I remember when I left teaching, I knew my life was going to be drastically different, but I also knew that my time in that role was finished. I was a little nervous about entering the corporate world because, for a lot of different reasons, I didn’t really feel like I would fit in. My life felt like a complete whirlwind for a long time—there were no bells, I didn’t have a set schedule, people went off campus for lunch, YOU CAN TAKE A ONE-HOUR LUNCH BREAK, I didn’t have younger humans looking up to me and trusting me with everything, there were no daily announcements made from my classroom, I didn’t even have a classroom, I had to work on a PC and not a Mac, I didn’t get to mentor anyone, I didn’t have to create assignments and maintain a grade book, and there were SO MANY OTHER THINGS that were new to me.

It was pretty scary.

It’s been more than two years now, so I guess you could say I’m a little more settled in. Thankfully, I still keep up with/mentor a handful of young women I was privileged to teach for all of their four years in high school, and I’m absolutely thankful for that. Seeing them grow up to become incredible individuals pursuing their dreams and becoming confident women who aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right is a beautiful thing to witness—it’s realizations like that that remind me that my time spent teaching was absolutely worth it.

Someone recently asked me what I ultimately want in life, and I didn’t have to think about it much. I may not be there yet, but I feel like much of what I’ve done thus far has been similar to pet sitting—I help out for the time I’m needed until it’s time to move on. And I genuinely care about each role I serve. (I even wished I could text Audrey, my parents’ dog I’m pet sitting, when I left their house the other day to make sure she wasn’t overheated after the walk we took that morning. She doesn’t have a phone, though.) I feel like God’s used me where He needed me to be. I knew when I started teaching that I wasn’t going to be there forever, but I know those seven years are ones I wouldn’t trade for any other better-paying job in the world.

We all have our own passions and callings. Some of us are meant to stay in the same roles for long periods of time, while others are meant to live a little differently. Some of us are meant to be pet owners, while others aren’t. I’m not saying that I want to bounce around all of the time, but I am saying that it takes some people longer to get to their destinations than others.

Life moves so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up sometimes, and we don’t always get the opportunities again that we let slip away. I love being there for my people, and if that means watching their pets when they ask me to, then so be it. If it helps them, I’m happy to do it—because for some reason I know it’s a role I need to play in this journey.

I don’t know exactly what the next chapter of my story holds, but I know it’s full of change, and I know I’m full of hope for it—and I’m ready for whatever it is that comes my way.

Even if it means taking care of a cat I’m allergic to for the sake of love.

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