Monday, June 20, 2011

Lessons From A Dancing Bear

I recently went to the Akron Zoo to enjoy the animals with my family and see how my daughter would react to the animals that she has learned about at home.  It was a great time as she recognized some of the animals and made the motions we had taught her or the noises we have associated with the particular animals.  It was a pretty exciting day to sit back and see some fruit from what she had learned.  We came upon a sloth bear.  When we approached we saw that he was rocking back and forth and my daughter thought it was neat and began to kind of rock back and forth with him as she watched him through the glass.  It was all fun.  She danced as the bear continued to dance.  However, the bear kept dancing, and dancing, and dancing.  Arianna (my daughter) decided to move on, and the bear kept rocking back and forth.

We began to wonder, what exactly is wrong with this bear?  After kind of chuckling about it, we noticed a plaque on the wall next to where this bear was rocking.  The plaque explained that this poor bear had been doing this since his mother had abandoned him.  It was his coping mechanism.  I found this fascinating, we actually stayed there for quite a while as my daughter needed to rest a bit and eat.  The whole time, with very few breaks, he continued to rock back and forth, back and forth.  


I have been extraordinarily busy recently.  In some cases I have been busy tending to matters that I am not altogether crazy about tending.  There are issues that have arisen that have irritated me, caused me to lose sleep, and kept me from doing the things that I enjoy doing.  In fact, the past month has been a long month.  Coping is synonymous with managing, muddling through, dealing with, or surviving, getting by.  I can say, this past month or so, I have been coping.  It is frustrating to me.  I want to move on move forward.  If I can’t I feel like I have lost something or failed, it is overwhelming and causes me to feel very down and depressed.  

Coping isn’t just settling, coping is holding on for dear life and weathering the storm.

What if it seems like the storm is endless?  

How well does hope hold out in those times of coping?

Coping mechanisms, as the rocking bear, are the things we do to make the unbearable times bearable (no pun intended).  It can be odd, it can be strange, it may make people laugh (as it did with the bear), but that is how we get through those tough times.  

What if we rely so much on our coping mechanisms that we don’t face the unbearable and it becomes a weakness?  What if we could become stronger if we faced that unbearable situation?  

The Scriptures are full of people who faced unbearable situations.  They realized that the unbearable situation was bearable if God was the One giving them strength to face the matter. 

How well do we do that?

How well do I do that?

I react quickly when I feel challenged as a coping mechanism.  I do this unwittingly, then after the fact I can retract, but I want that process to change.  I lack confidence and rely on others so if anything goes wrong I am not the one to blame.  A sort of act like LeBron James pulls in the finals, but I do that with tough calls in life.  I have a plethora of other things I do to cope with the things life throws as me, but I began to wonder, just who would I be if I made the conscious decision to face these battles without coping, without holding on, or merely surviving, but with confidence in knowing that God is with me in these trials?  

What if I let God be God in my life?  What if I stopped being scared of the things that are too big for me?  What if I realized, life is not about coping, it is about freedom and victory?  What if God in me is much greater than a fearful Adam that relies on rational decisions without consulting the God that often transcends man’s rationale?  

How much glory could God gain in a life like that?  

We all have our ways of “rocking” just like that bear.  We all have ways to insulate ourselves from the things that this life throws at us.  However, we have to ask ourselves if what we believe about God, what we have learned from His Word is true enough for us to listen to the Spirit of God and let Him lead us into the tough situations.  Will we grow, be teachable, and look for the lessons in those times?  

Do we want to do more than cope?  Do we want to face our Goliath's (our giants, our scary situations) and let God do His work in us and to our enemy?  

I see this happening in the Christian realm too often, this coping, and I do not believe that this is the life that God has intended for us.  Bears aren't meant to rock back and forth, are we (as believers) meant to merely cope?

Just something I have thought about as I have learned from recent matters and a dancing bear.

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