Lessons from a squirrel

Last night I was standing at the edge of the ravine taking in the magnificent beauty before me.  Below there were little squirrels playing a game of chase.  They were all over the area.  Then a lone, noisy squirrel caught my attention.  I became completely engrossed with his activity.

20161102_063809.jpgLone squirrel was very active and busy.  Yet his activity looked like a complete waste of time.  It appeared that he would search through the leaves.  He would find something and then move it a few feet away.  Then begin searching again.  He kept repeating this pattern.  I am not an outdoors enthusiast, so admittedly I rarely take the time  to observe the habits of God’s creatures, and certainly am not educated on these types of things.  I truly had not idea what lone squirrel was doing.  I just found myself relating to lone squirrel on a very personal level.

  • Sometimes we are wasting time on activities that don’t need to be done

Lone squirrel was so busy.  He didn’t have time to play with the other two squirrels that were playing a game of chase.  They were taking advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoying each other’s company.  Lone squirrel didn’t appear to notice them.

I thought about how many times in life I busy myself with things that don’t need to be done.  My busyness keeps me from engaging with those around me.  I have the appearance of doing something, but really my activity gets me no closer to my goals.  It also creates walls between me and those around me.

Or worse at times I do things that don’t need to be done by me.  I am currently at a training with center directors and the trainer has reminded them that if someone can do an activity 80% as well as they can, the director should let someone else do it.  It is truly a tip to help them create some margin in the stress of their positions.  When we take on jobs we shouldn’t, we are robbing others from fulfilling their roles in the kingdom.

  • Sometimes were just searching and that is okay

Lone squirrel was searching so frantically in the leaves.  He was creating more noise than the two squirrels playing.  He was just searching and searching.

At this point in my life, I am searching.  My life has changed so drastically over the past two years.  Good changes, hard changes, but the activities and roles I once found my identity in are now gone.  In addition, where I usually have direction of where I am headed, my next step – right now I am completely void of direction other than drawing closer to God.

I have no idea where God is leading me or taking me.  I know that were I am is a good place.  However, I also know that I can’t stay where I am at.  As good as it is, eventually I would become comfortable and then complacent.  Complacency leads to backsliding.  I can’t afford to go there again.

So I am searching.  Searching for direction.  Searching for identity.  Searching for a deeper relationship with God.  Searching for purpose.  Searching for the next step.  And God has shown me, that is okay.  He can provide those answers in His timing because I’m asking.

  • Sometimes we need to have someone else give us perspective

As I was standing there engrossed in the world of the squirrels, two of my cohorts came up.  I don’t know how long they were there, but as I acknowledged them I told them what I was witnessing.  One provided me the perspective activity that the squirrel was looking for nuts and storing them up so he could find them later when there were no nuts on the trees for eating. That should have been an apparent observation, but to this city girl it completely slipped by me.

So many times in my own life I have needed an outside perspective on something that was apparent to everyone else and should have been apparent to me.  Like when my son moved across the continent and my mom was placed in a nursing home. I was really struggling with getting into the Christmas spirit.  I didn’t want to shop – something I did with my mom.  I didn’t want to decorate – something my kids had always done together.  One of the ladies in my Bible Study group pointed it out as I shared what I was going through.  It should have completely obvious.  I needed to grieve where I was and find a new normal.

Another time after the death of my mother, I was in a real funk.  Again on the outside things looked okay.  I was happy in my job.  My marriage was thriving.  I had open lines of communication with my kids and friends.  Things were good.  There was nothing that I could say was “wrong.”  However, I couldn’t shake the funk.  After about two weeks it was driving me nuts.  I was talking to one of our liaisons at work and she said “Jackie you are still in the grieving process.”

I needed people in my life to give me an outside perspective.  Not that I needed to take on their opinion, but I needed to hear it and decide if that was really where I was.  I needed insight into what they were seeing in me to help me make sense  of things.

  • Sometimes what looks pointless has a deeper purpose

In light of the squirrel storing up food for the winter, obviously his  actions has a deeper purpose than just scurrying about frantically.  So it is in my life.  There are things that I will go through that appear to have no purpose.  Yet, God never wastes experience.  He may have me walk through something so that I can help someone else.  But often times, the pointless activity leads to a deeper walk with Him.  A new level of intimacy comes out of the trials He walks me though.

I am grateful for the lone squirrel.  He reminds me that we can learn something from everyone in our lives.  People are watching, just as I was watching the squirrel.  I may not glean from the experience what He did, but I can glean.  God can still speak to me anytime, through anything, using anyone – even a little squirrel.

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