“NO SUCH THING AS A MUTT” by Roy Borges
The first time I laid eyes on my brother’s dog, I didn’t like him. He was a mangy old mutt. As far as I was concerned, he was utterly worthless. He didn’t know any tricks. He picked the most inconvenient times to have to go out. And he wasn’t a very good watchdog. In fact, if anybody ever tried to break into our house, I’m sure this dog would have helped him.
My brother’s dog knew how much I disliked him. That’s why he made it his mission in life to torment me. For example, he never chewed up anything that belonged to my brother. But that lousy dog chewed up everything I owned. One day he chewed up the title to my car.
I despised this mutt. But I loved my brother very much. So, one afternoon, I agreed to help him out by babysitting his dog. But as I worked around the house that day, I soon forgot about the dog. And when someone – maybe me – left the front door open, that sneaky mutt ran right out into the street. Suddenly I heard the screeching of tires and a sad, mournful yelp. I ran to the door. There in the middle of the road lay my brother’s dog. I knew he was dead. I’ll never forget the pain on my brother’s face when he came home and found the dog he loved lying dead on the living room floor. I’d never seen my brother cry, not even when I smashed up his brand new car. But he cried that day. I cried inside as I watched my brother suffer.
Suddenly I realized that just because I didn’t see anything good about this mutt didn’t mean there wasn’t anything good about him. My brother saw this dog with a different set of eyes than I did. He loved him a lot.
Sometimes it’s like that with people. We meet others who look like mutts to us. They have irritating personalities. They do things we don’t like. They cause us problems. All in all, they seem pretty worthless. We just don’t like them. Maybe we even hate them.
So it’s hard to understand what God could possibly see in them. But God looks at each of us with a different set of eyes. He loves every one of us very much. In fact, He loves every one of us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us so that we could know salvation and spend eternity with Him. There are no mutts in God’s eyes.
Roy Borges, the author of this little story, has a reason for wanting to write about mutts. He says, “I’ve been a mutt for much of my life, someone looked down upon as a worthless person, someone nobody wanted; and for good reason.” Roy is 68 years old, and in his 32nd year of a 45 year sentence at the Florida State Prison after being found guilty of committing several burglaries. He was 36 years old when he was sent up for that long sentence on the three strike law. He had been in and out of prison several times before that, and the judge decided that the Florida court system had had enough of him.
In between his previous times in prison, Roy had gotten married and fathered a child. But he lost both his wife and daughter after a pattern of abuse and abandonment. When he wasn’t robbing homes, he was using drugs. He learned both habits as a child from his heroin addicted ex-con father. Roy Borges admits he was worse than his brother’s worthless mutt. After all, the dog just laid around all day, and at worst chewed up shoes or other items. But Borges left behind a path of pain and misery wherever he went.
In December of 1989 Roy’s life was changed dramatically. He went to the prison chapel service on Christmas Eve. He heard a fellow inmate talk about his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ and the tremendous impact that had on his life, even though he was still in prison. Roy decided to give his life to Christ, and he has not been the same since.
Roy began to spend all his free time reading to learn more about his new faith. Then, he began to write about it. He said this was a great surprise to him, because English was his worst subject in school, and now, he wanted to read and write all the time. God has blessed his efforts. Several of his articles have been published, first in the prison newspaper, and then in national magazines. He has won several writing awards and has written two books.
Roy Borges remains in prison. The article I read did not say when he was eligible for parole, but he is sentenced to be in prison until he is over eighty years old. So his time is divided between writing and working at his job in the prison kitchen. He says, “My greatest desire is to write for other prisoners. So many of them are lost, like I was for so long, and I know how to speak to them. This writing has given my life meaning and purpose even here. God has given me this gift and this work so that I can serve him.”
Roy Borges, inmate #029381, Florida State Prison system
Genesis 39:20-21a — Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him…
Luke 4:18-19 — (Jesus said), “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Psalm 119:141 — Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 22:23-24 — You who fear the Lord, praise him!… For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help.
Almighty and most merciful God, we call to mind before you all those whom it would be easy to forget: the homeless, the destitute, the sick, the aged, those in prison, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Lutheran Book of Worship, Augsburg, 1978, prayer #181, (adapted)