He wasn't the only disfigured dog in the shelter, but something about him caught John's eye.
John looked at the name on the outside of the cage: Pugly. The name was a mix between "pug" and "ugly." He supposed he was called that because of his pug nose, a battered eye and slobbery mouth. John could also see remnants of burn marks on his flesh, and one leg appeared to have healed crooked from being broken. The dog's naturally wrinkled face and curly tail did not appeal to John, but he knew pugs made a great family pet.
"I'll take this one," John told an attendant.
John, a single dad, took Pugly home to his eight-year-old daughter, Carolina, who immediately loved and cared for him. After all, Carolina was the one who prodded John to visit the shelter in the first place. Pugly delighted Carolina for many years, however, not without a price. He was the scourge of the neighborhood. He endured the taunting and ridicule of Carolina's friends and some of John's as well. But Pugly didn't mind. He was happy to have a home, and he took everything in stride which endeared him that much more to his masters.
Then, shortly before Carolina graduated from high school, Pugly died, and John and Carolina wept. John remembered those moments when he first met Pugly, and he realized why he was so drawn to him.
Pugly could not hide the torture he once endured. Although his wounds were treated, the scarring and disfigurement would serve as constant reminders of past abuse. John and Carolina knew it would take a lot of love to help Pugly thrive -- and survive -- in an unpredictable and uncaring world. And, as time passed, they were able to give him that kind of love which lasted throughout his lifetime.
Unlike Pugly, we humans are adept at camouflaging our hurt and pain. On the outside, we may appear as someone who is whole, but, on the inside, we do everything we can to keep from crumbling. We need the love of another to help us heal and overcome the onslaught of whatever taunting, trials and temptations we may face. The only person capable of giving us that kind of love is Jesus. When we allow Jesus to become the salve for our broken and damaged lives, we will start to heal and see our wounds slowly fade away.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds," (Psalm 147:3, NIV).