Our cat, Honkee Magoo (please blame/credit my husband for the odd name) isn’t a demanding soul, except in one case: He insists on our turning on the bathroom tap to a trickle and leaving it on all the time. Sometimes he drinks the water. Other times, he just watches it drip, or plays with it. Obviously, this trick does not bode well for our water bill. But Honkee is insistent. He needs that water to be running.

He spent his formative months as a stray, which I believe holds the key to his odd behavior. When you’re a stray, you don’t know where your next meal — or drink — is coming from. The first time we saw him, he was looking for edible garbage outside a Subway restaurant; we coaxed him into our car with cheese. He’s a bit of a wild man, but with a huge, grateful heart. Keeping the water running is — for him — our way of telling him that he will never have to go without again. He will always have his needs met. He will always have a home.

We humans have our needs, too. We need someone to listen to us, and that person is most frequently God. We do a lot of crying out to God, a lot of asking. We need for God to hear us, and to show that God hears us. We need God to keep the water running, so to speak.

So what happens when we can’t hear God, when our prayers seem unheeded, un-listened to? We can get a little wild ourselves. I was a bit angry at God this week for not hearing me: What am I supposed to be doing with my life, because this can’t be it, seriously. Wasn’t I supposed to do something great? Is this mic on? I still haven’t heard back.

It’s okay to be angry with God. We all get mad at those we love. It’s human. But I also know that God hears me. Which makes my inability to hear a response all the more confounding. What is it in me that can’t hear? What am I ignoring, not heeding, not understanding?

The whole situation feels familiar: It’s like me trying to reason with Honkee. “No, I am not going to turn on the water. You have water in your dish, in your fountain. You don’t need this water.” He doesn’t get it. The problem isn’t in the message or in the messenger. It’s in the inability of the listener to comprehend.

I don’t get mad at Honkee for not understanding, just as God doesn’t give up on me for my shortcomings. I turn the water on because I don’t want him to fret. I don’t fret either; I know that the water’s running for me. My faith is not dented in any way. Still, it would be nice to see the water. Maybe I need to work on me?

Honkee has great self-confidence; he struts around the house like a boxer after scoring a knockout. Still, he likes being told he’s a good boy. (Positive reinforcement became a turning point in our relationship, back in his early, feral days.) Maybe if I worked on my own self-confidence and self-love, I’d start seeing my path. It couldn’t hurt.

I guess the water was running the whole time. It just took me a while to notice.

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