Yesterday, I went to the zoo. Homeschool field trip. We attended a class with the kids where we had an up-close-meet-the-animal experience. Leave it to God to teach me a life lesson in an experience with a turtle. Sorry, a tortoise, as I learned from the very exuberant zoo keeper.
So, there I was, in the Flamingo Room of the Dallas zoo with three zoo-keepers complete with the historically assigned uniform of all zoo-keepers, khaki shorts and hiking boots, when I came face to face with a female tortoise. Here is what I learned: the tortoise has a high, domed shape shell with rough spikes to protect herself from attack and certain death. She carries that highly dome-shaped shell wherever she goes because if someone flips her over, she can rock herself back and forth until she is right again.
Let me repeat: when life flips her upside down, God designed the tortoise so that she could rock herself right.
Holy moly, this can preach but, because this is a blog and not a novel, I will keep it brief. Here is the point:
For those of you out there licking your wounds, flipped upside down by life, turned inside-out and struggling, the Good, all-knowing, amazing God that created you also gave you the skills and strength to rock yourself right.
First, it is okay to lick your wounds. You are not supposed to numb yourself but instead feel your upside-down-ness completely, just like the tortoise who has nerves in her shell. We learned from the zoo-keeper that when the tortoise is upright and caught in a rainstorm, that rain is like a massage to the backside of the tortoise. But when she gets flipped upside down, on her backside, she can feel every bit of that life change through her tough exterior. It does not feel good. It hurts. It is aggravating. It is scary. So like our tortoise friend, feel it and then deal with it. After you have fully experienced the loss, change or pain, rock yourself right.
That may sound callous and rude but stay with me.
That dome you want to crawl inside of is covered with prayer-warrior-spikes that are there to protect you from the flaming arrows of the enemy. Those prayer warriors are your friends and family walking beside you and begging God to be gracious in your time of need. That thick, impenetrable wall is the Word of God wallpapered all over your outside. Get more into the Word, get a thicker covering of it all over your life. That ability to rock yourself right is the time when God is hearing and seeing every tear, every sob, and patiently waiting while you learn how to roll over and start again.
So many of us want to run from being flipped upside down. I know I do. Who likes pain and discomfort? Who wants to deal with life when it is ugly and it hurts and is doesn’t make any sense? I am not the first Christian blogger to point out, nor will I be the last, that it is in these moments of uncertainty that we are changed, grown, healed and righted with the very things God gave us to lead us to Him. I had always thought that living life like a turtle or tortoise was not healthy. I attached the idea that hiding in my shell was a weakness. And if all I, or we, ever do is hide in that shell and not use it for everything God designed it to be then yes, it is a weakness. I see now, that our shell is not only meant for our protection but also for a new start. When life strikes you down, don’t hide away in your God-given protective hut. That shell has a bigger purpose, a second step, per se: It is meant for you to rock yourself right and get back out on the open road of your life.
Be brave my friend. God has already given you all that you need to walk through this and remember, He goes before, behind, alongside and He also gave you a ‘righting shell.’
PS- We also saw an opossum, anteater, owl and a ‘gator but lucky you, God has not given me a life lesson from any of those yet- just these super cute pics of His creation. Enjoy!