What is it about our human nature that is so stoked in fear that we are constantly looking for any excuse to find the exit?
What saturates our brains in flight or fight neuropathy so much that it feels like we are always either defending our flank or leaping like an antelope for the safety of the opposite river bank?
As an amateur student of biology and evolution, I know the selfish gene theory says we are wired to preserve our life so we might pass those genes on. As a student of the Bible ( and an even greater amateur at that ) I know it has something to do with being broken and (by our choice) separated from God?
No matter the reason or combination of reasons, it is self evident that we want something different than to run. We yearn for some kind of peace and open plain, free of predators where we can idly eat our antelope grasses, without fear of the next attack.
We yearn for something or someone to protect us.
Those of us who are Christians turn to God for this peace and protection, but we often fail to truly accept it. We are always trying to do it all on our own. If he sends us people to help, we reject them for fear that they are the lion in antelope’s clothing. If he gives us a moment or two of peaceful revelation and a feeling of acceptance we reject it as not real, as a lure or trap set for us to get just a bit too close to the watering hole, so the crocodile can snatch us.
If we are not Christians and we have no other, higher power to turn to, we attempt to rely on our understanding of human nature to bring us peace. We hope that a greater and grittier acceptance and understanding of the strategies that other humans employ to stay safe will help us gaurd and cope more deftly. We strive to become the perfect antelope that can either evade or outrun or outsmart any danger. We are in utter competition with the other antelopes for our survival, sometimes clustering with a few others for our safety, but always just a bit wary of their motives.
I witness myself on both sides of this conundrum without easy answers. I think I’ve found them by knowing that I am forgiven. That I am loved, unconditionally, by my Heavenly Father. I pray that when I go to him and lay my troubles, fears and anguishes at His feet I will become like the antelope on the safe plain. I also seek answers in my study of human nature. I listen to endless podcasts and read books and blogs. I observe human nature and those around me, endlessly. Sometimes all if this feels like a continuous struggle with no obvious answer.
Only that is not really the point either, is it? Maybe we aren’t designed to be at peace continuously or have a bunch of obvious answers to our deepest yearnings? Maybe we are designed either by nature or by a prime Mover for something else?
What if we are intentionally designed to strive? What if we are meant to soar like an eagle who only gets to drift for a few glorious moments, but much of the time must flap its wings to climb or desperately dive and seek its prey?
What if the whole point is not the placid peace but the engagement? What if it is neither the quest nor attainment of competency, but the act of building competency and community? Perhaps it is not about vigilance or hiding or running at all? Perhaps it is more about the way you show up, who you show up for and only a little about how well you can find gratitude in the quiet moments when the grass is still and the plain is clear and someone or Someone whispers…
Fear not, I got you!
If that is the case, we have but one choice.
The choice to engage with our environment and lean into our community. The choice to be for something and not simply against or running from something. We have to make the choice to be better together over standing alone or in safe (but wary) clique.
One on one an antelope is not a match for a lion anymore than a single fish can be successful against a dolphin or shark. The reason herds are successful is because there is strength in numbers and strength in community. We are not meant to do this alone. Biology, God or a combo of the two, the evidence is clear that the lone antelope wandering off on its own is only going to encounter greater risk to life and limb. It doesn’t have as much chance to pass on what it has learned. It may not get to see its progeny strive and survive. It is too busy running or hiding or surviving or dying for that.
Don’t do this thing called life alone. Don’t try to figure it all out. Don’t run from those who want more for you and nothing from you.
Run TO something, be FOR something, be FOR someone and Fear not, He’s got you!
Love you guys, J