Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lessons Learned

The Lord has a way of teaching me things about Himself, little situations that He puts me in to get a glimpse of what we look like from His point of view.
Years of unrequited love taught me what it's like to long for someone who cares nothing about you, just like the Lord longs even more excruciatingly to be close to us, who so often care so little about Him.
Arguing with a friend who does not trust me taught me how hurtful it is to the Lord when we do not trust Him.
Having fair-weather friends taught me what it's like for the Lord when people pray to Him only when they need Him, but never take the time to console His Agonizing Heart or even keep Him company in the Tabernacle.
And now, silly as it may seem, adopting a new bird is teaching me about vocations from God's vantage point.

Elliot was a very difficult bird to deal with at first, because she was so skittish, so scared of me. Remembering, however, the damage I had done to previous birds by forcing too much training on them too fast, I chose to exercise patience with her. Any time I felt any frustration, I backed off and ended the session for the day.
[Ok, background info: Parakeets are very social creatures since they live in flocks in the wild. Because of this, they need a lot of attention to keep them happy and Jack is not exactly the focal point of our family. Elliot was purchased to be his companion. If, however, you introduce an untamed bird to another bird, the untamed bird will never become truly tame because it doesn't need to: it has the other bird for company. Because of this, I had Jack and Elliot kept in separate cages in separate corners of the house. They couldn't even hear each other chirping. They had no idea that the other existed.]
Anywho, keeping the birdies separated was difficult for me, because I felt that if Elliot only knew the joy in store for her, perhaps she would be a little more motivated to complete her taming process. If only she trusted me, I could finally bring her and her little mate together!
Elliot did NOT know about Jack, though, so training continued at a snails pace. Almost 2 months after I brought her home, she was still fluttering around wildly to avoid my hand. She would only climb on tentatively if I offered her food. Because she wouldn't climb on readily, I couldn't let her out of her cage, either, because there was no way to get her back in or protect her from the dangers she may encounter outside in the big, wide house. In her mind, I was one of those dangers!
A major break-through occured, though, when I brought Jack to visit her cage. To see another bird hop onto my hand and remain unharmed succeeded in shattering her fears. And besides, anything Jack did, she had to try, too! It was love at first sight (for Elliot, anyway. Jack needed a little convincing.) Soon she was hopping on and off my hand like a pro, and readily climbing on when she landed in a dangerous or precarious spot.
The tamer Elliot became, the sweeter she became, too. We were all used to Jack, who bites everyone who comes close and doesn't like to be held, and Tobey, the bird before him, who was afraid of everything, even his toys. To have this adorable little bird hopping onto our fingers and shoulders, clamoring around playing with all of her toys and chattering away or chirping at the top of her lungs is quite a change and a treat for us. She has captured the heart of every member of the family. Even ornary ol' Jack is taking a liking to her at last, so persistant is she in her cheerful and friendly ways.
And the sweeter she became, the more reluctant I was to move her into Jack's room. I knew that the more the two of them bonded, the less she would bond with us humans, and I didn't want to give her up.
In the end, though, I knew that she had to serve her purpose in this household, so I moved her cage into the room with Jack's, then slowly moved her things, day by day, into his cage. She's all moved in now, and the two of them spend long happy days together playing and chattering and scratching each others heads. Jack has benefitted amazingly from having her around. He bites much less and is in general much happier of a bird. Mission accomplished.

So, now at the end of this long story about my birds, I will relate to you the lesson hidden in all of this. There are two, actually.
1) Patience is really important! I am convinced that my patience with Elliot helped her to become the loveable little bundle of feathers she is now, though her personality probably has something to do with it, too.
2) Reread or recall this story, but this time picture God in the role of bird-tamer and us in the role of Elliot. Insert future spouse into Jack's role, and we have a perfect analogy. Awesome, isn't it? We have to draw closer to the Lord and truly trust in Him before He can bring us to the great joy He has in store for us! Only then will we be able to grow in sweetness and virtue and maybe even draw others closer to Him. Sometimes He uses other people to draw us closer, and sometimes He enjoys us so much that He wants to keep us all to Himself. (Religious life, anyone?) No matter what, He knows best, and He is preparing us for the path He has planned and leading us down it at the same time. Follow Him!

My Friends the Dumbbells

I think I am becoming mildly addicted to working out.
I never, ever thought this would happen to me; I was always a book reading, movie watching, other-sitting-still-activities doing kind of gal. I hated cross country and always felt bad when we drove past runners on the sidewalk. I simply endured gym classes so I could get to English or Chorus or some other activity that didn't require any movement.
But then I started's 2-Week Total Body Turnaround.
Allow me to explain. This 2 week program advertises the loss of 12 lb and 22 1/2 inches in just two weeks! Shocking! Every day, I go to the website and check the appropriate page that tells me the workout for the day. Every day is a surprise, which is good, because I get bored very easily, ESPECIALLY with workout programs. Each day holds 1/2 an hour of cardio and 1/2 an hour of strength training. It is a bit much, but I am somewhat of an all-or-nothing person, and I do get Sundays off.
So I started off last week with nothing but my mom's 2 lb. weights to work with. As she said, they were better than nothing, but... well... not by much. It ended up being a good thing, though, because I'm so out of shape, some of the exercises were still difficult for me. (ie: lunges. you'd think that these huge leg muscles would be good for something... apparently not)
I finally convinced mother dear to pick up some real 5 lb weights while she was out shopping for vacation, stating that of course they would be of good use for her, too. The jubilation that ensued upon the arrival of the dumbbells was my first tip that perhaps I was getting a little too into this program.
It wasn't until tonight, though, that I really understood. It was my first night using the dumbbells. My delight deepened with every set that I struggled through. I smiled as my arms shook, unaccustomed to the extra weight. During the last set, I tacked on 3 extra reps because I was enjoying the burning in my abs so much.
Yes, I love strength training. This could be the beginning of something big. :D