As I child, I remember doing a chant about a lion hunt. It began with this line: Going on a lion hunt . . . we’re not afraid.
Psalm 57 talks about lions, in fact, it talks about being surrounded by them:
My life is in the middle of a pack of lions.
I lie down among those who devour humans. (Psalm 57:4a)
Last week, I blogged about the importance of knowing your boundaries and living within them. I mentioned that it isn’t easy to live within our boundaries because doing so goes against cultural expectations and others don’t always support our efforts.
It takes constant awareness to recognize the pack of lions that surround us as we seek to live within boundaries that keep us healthy and whole. The lions around us may have different names such as guilt, procrastination, criticalness, sloth and cynicism. They may roar at us through criticism or they may purr at us through guilt, but always they urge us toward unhealthy ways of living.
It took many years before I even recognized that I was being devoured by lions. Mired in stress and stretched by many good demands on my time, I thought this was just the way life was supposed to be. And when I tried to set the boundaries that I hungered for, I felt selfish and guilty. I began to recognize the lions when I learned to slow down and move at my natural pace.
It’s a process that continues to unfold. But one of the ways in which I am able to recognize lions is by paying attention to what causes me discomfort. Here’s an example: I do not do well when I have to rush. A few weeks ago, I had an early morning appointment. Instead of allowing myself the time I know I need to do what is important for me to begin my day well, I tried to get myself ready on my husband’s schedule. I was a wreck before I left the house. As I drove to the appointment, I recognized the lion of accommodating had devoured me that morning. By reflecting on the experience and realizing its effect on my health, I resolved to respect my boundaries the next time I had an earlier than normal morning schedule.
A lion hunt is necessary if we are to live the lives God has planted in us to live. What is unhealthy for my spirit may not affect another. A lion for me may be a kitten for someone else and even if it is a lion for another, they have to recognize it for themselves. It takes discernment, attentiveness and the discipline to slow down and become aware of what causes me pain and also what brings me peace.
There will always be lions but as we connect more intimately with God, we find it easier to recognize and repel the lions that want to devour us. The peace of such intimacy lures us to honor our boundaries and keep the lions at bay.