My family really enjoyed our recent vacation to Tennessee. We rented a beautiful log cabin high in the Smoky Mountains called Nature's Paradise and it truly lived up to its name. Along with breathtaking views of the mountains, it included all the amenities one could ask for including cable TV, Wi-Fi, stainless steel appliances, a hot tub and even a Pac-man video game. Believe me we were not roughing it, but truth be told this is the type of vacation we prefer! One added "feature" that our cabin preserve area included was not so high on our “must have” list however. When reading the welcome packet, I skimmed quickly over this “feature,” as in my naïve opinion, this was a non-issue. Here’s what it said “Please be aware that there are bears on the preserve. For your safety and protection, please do not approach or feed them, as they are wild animals.” As I read this I was thinking “Whatever, as if we would ever actually SEE a bear!” I assumed it had to be mentioned for renters' awareness, but it was something that would be very rare to occur. Well I could not have been more wrong! Not only did we see a bear but we encountered many bears during our stay every day!
As fate would have it, our initial bear adventure came on our very first night at the cabin. As it was a beautiful night, we decided to walk up to the pool area for an evening swim. It was mostly uphill to get there, but with the promise of a refreshing pool waiting for us at the end of our climb, we pressed on. All was going well until we started walking back to our cabin after swimming. My husband Phil is a real tease and in fun started growling pretending there was a bear nearby. He too thought the idea of bears on our preserve was silly. He started to freak my daughter out though, so I strongly suggested that he discontinue this ASAP. A few minutes later though as we were chatting happily along, a very strange look came across my husband’s face. His fun, easy going expression changed to fear and shock as he said “There’s a bear!” My daughter and I knew that he was serious, as his face showed this was clearly not a joke. A huge bear was right up in front of us looking for food not far from our cabin. Not knowing what to do we anxiously knocked on the nearest cabin with a high porch. In desperation we asked if we could wait there until our furry friend moved on. The people there were very sweet and obliging and even drove us back to our cabin. We feared the bear had smelled our yummy lasagna waiting for us back at the cabin, but thankfully he did not have an appetite for pasta that evening.
Well, let me tell you, I certainly felt differently about the warning in the welcome packet about bears now!. From then on we were constantly on guard as bears came out day and night looking for food. It was actually unusual to not see a bear. We never left food out, so we personally never had a problem. Others who barbecued or left garbage out however were constant targets. Often motion lights would come on in the wee hours of the night and loud banging was heard which was the sound of garbage bins being knocked over. One day we saw the biggest bear of all sitting on his bottom in front of a big bag of garbage acting like a kid in a candy store! Unbelievable. We chuckled as well as a big mess was made in front of the cabin ironically called “The Bear Necessities,” as the bears had raided their garbage the night before.
It has been said there are three kinds of people in this world. Those who watch things happen. Those who make things happen and those who wonder what happened. We saw examples of all three types with their response to the bears. We "watched," very carefully I might add. We learned to be cautious spectators and would often see things happen such as bears at other cabins as the garbage was available for them. We followed wise counsel and we were fine. Those who left the garbage out on a regular basis or barbecued frequently "made" the bears come by their cabins whether intentionally or not, by not following good advice. A clear example of someone who "wondered what happened" was a guy we observed throwing hot dogs to a bear. When Phil advised him not to do that he replied “I don’t know why this bear keeps coming around OUR cabin all the time?" Hmmm… I wonder why?
I have met people throughout my life who often act like my hot dog throwing friend. They question why life has done them wrong. They wonder why negative things are always happening to them. They are confused when things don’t quite go as planned. They don’t see the big picture and blame fate, or bad luck or God for their troubles. Like the hot dog throwing guy, they don’t know why trouble comes their way, when in reality they are basically rolling out the welcome mat for heartache and strife by their poor choices and behaviours. They are feeding the bear in their lives and are left with the consequences. We were successful because we minded our own business, listened to wise advice, took our safety seriously and looked out for each other. Many others knew what to do to avoid bear troubles, but chose not to do them and guess what like it or not their cabins were the bears’ favourites. Actions have consequences and a person can only get away with negative behaviour for so long without it catching up to him or her. Sometimes it takes a big crisis for that A-ha moment to come. Sometimes a person has a revelation, or another person can help to enlighten someone he or she cares about deeply.
The Bible says that God wants us to have abundant life. God does not want us to just exist. His desire is for us is to live life to the fullest, but we have to do our part to make sure that happens. If we are having issues in our lives we need to examine why these issues have arrived. "Bears" in our lives can be bad habits, toxic relationships, addictions, or negative emotions like fear and anxiety. To gain victory over these problem areas we must take a long hard look at what we are doing to keep the problems alive and well. Sometimes big changes need to happen or sometimes we may just need to tweak certain habits. Being able to admit our part and take responsibility is the first step to successful problem solving. We need to ask ourselves are we part of the problem or the solution? This is not easy but so necessary. It may require changing or ending relationships, starting or ending certain habits or avoiding certain places. Taking personal inventory is difficult work but also very empowering. I chuckle when my students find me at recess and complain that they don't want to be chased by someone. I always reply "If you don't want to be chased, stop running!" They always look at me like they have never thought of that before. I challenge you to examine your own issues and see with brutal honesty are you inviting “bears” to your door whether knowingly or unknowingly? I will do this too. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Let’s not be that way! Bears belong in the wild, not at our doors. They are attracted to our garbage, so as we clean up our lives, we can live in freedom! Here’s to a better life and as you strive to move forward watch out for the guy throwing hot dogs! He just doesn’t get it yet, but as you move towards your goal you can teach him a thing or two!
Until next time,
John 10:10 ~ I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
Little Lesson Learned: If trouble comes knocking at your door, don’t answer, and certainly don't invite it in for coffee.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015