Last year I had a run in with a deer I named “The Snorter.” She was an ornery old girl who was very impolite. I had arrived to my stand late, no unusual thing, and hadn’t had time to grab my climber to position myself twenty feet up like I should have. So I stood there at the base of the tree and waited for a deer to come by. If I’d had a rifle in my hand it wouldn’t have been a problem, but I was hunting with a bow and a lot of things have to fall in to place in order to shoot a deer with a bow while standing on the ground in the open hardwoods. Sure enough, The Snorter came walking in. She would have passed by at 25 yards but she caught some movement and stared me down for an eternity. Then she snorted at me for another eternity. Once she quit yelling at me she ran off and I was left emotionally wounded by her harsh words. When the echoes of her anger faded I was only left to reflect on my poor setup at the base of the tree. Flash forward a week and I was back in the same spot, only this time I had enough time to grab my climber and get up above the wary eyes of any whitetail. An hour before dark a doe came wandering in and stopped at the base of my tree. I released an arrow and eighty yards later I was standing over fresh venison and smiling for the camera.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from experiences gained while hunting, only sometimes you don’t really think about them until later. What is the life lesson in getting busted by a doe while standing on the ground versus busting a doe while perched above her? In my case I think it might be as simple as a matter of perspective – needing to change the angle from which I approach things.
One year ago today my daughter, Cora Grace, came in to this world at 12:05 a.m., only she wasn’t alive. It had been a painful three and a half weeks since we had received the grim diagnosis, but strangely enough it had also been a sweet time. I cannot recall a time when my wife and I felt closer, or our faith in Christ had been stronger, and while we trekked along with heavy hearts we had joy because ultimately we knew that our hope was in Something much greater than anything here on earth.
That’s the story you’d find written in some book on suffering, you know, the one that has the perfect little ending after a time of trial. One where the author says all the right things and people are so inspired they end up longing for their own bout of suffering so they can experience the same joy. (“I wish I lost everything in a house fire so I could experience joy,” for example). It would be a great lie to tell you that the entire journey in this past year has been one like I outlined in the previous paragraph. There is no perfect little ending that I can see and I’d be surprised if I could make the whole experience sound appealing enough for you to long for one of your own. It also doesn’t mean that the words in the previous paragraph are not true. It was a sweet time and there have been sweet times since, but there have also been downright ugly times filled with anger, depression, doubt, and questioning……and silence.
As life slowly returned to normal on the outside it became apparent it would never be the same again on the inside. At times I have been tired of life, tired of work, tired of relationships, and just plain tired. I’d rather go sit on a log and stare at a tree than sit in a crowd and make small talk. Of course, that was true before Cora but even more so after. Have you ever heard of a summer camp for introverts? Neither have I, but I have a feeling I’d be the perfect camper. I can see the advertisement now –
COME ENJOY DAY LONG SESSIONS WITH YOURSELF!
EVENING GROUP SESSIONS WHERE NO ONE TALKS!
A PLACE WHERE LIFELONG RELATIONSHIPS ARE NEVER FORMED!
Sounds like the place for me. I have always been better at carrying on a conversation with a tree stump than with a real person. It’s a gift, but probably not a good one, though it may explain why I didn’t see many deer last year.
I’ve recently realized that my perspective has been wrong (again). It’s not that I’ve been intentionally focusing on myself; it’s just my natural tendency to think of me first. Spending a week at Camp Introvert is fine, but taking up permanent residence is not. In my life I always have the campfire of selfishness burning and the loss of Cora (along with my wife’s stupid, horrible Lyme disease) has been the fuel that turned it into a bonfire from time to time. The old woe-is me-attitude had slowly crept in to my thoughts and I began to identify my life by my circumstances instead of by my hope in Christ. What a dismal thing to think that my joy in life could be present or not present based on whatever I was experiencing that day; blown around by the winds of my feelings. On the contrary, how wonderful it is to know that there is Someone to hope in that doesn’t change.
Imagine a scenario where someone calls me at work and asks that I come inspect their house because they’ve noticed some cracks in the walls and floor and after a little investigation I find that the foundation has cracked and settled a few inches. Being the sarcastic individual that I am I call the homeowner over and point and say, “Well, there’s your problem!” Once I apologize for being inconsiderate I outline the possible options to remedy the problem. “Well Ma’am, the problem isn’t really the crack in the foundation. The problem is the ground underneath. There are three things you can do. First, you can cover up the crack and sell immediately, hee hee (apologize again). Second, you can live with the problem, which will likely become worse with time. Or third, you can spend a lot of time and effort and fix it right.” Words like that are usually hard to hear. It can be easy to identify the problem; the hard part is fixing it.
That’s where I’m at right now. The problem has been identified and the heavy equipment is moving in to make the repairs but it’s a long process. In this case it will be a lifelong process. Even after the repairs are made there will still be a scar, right? And every time I look at the scar I’ll be tempted to dwell on how painful it was when the initial wound occurred, and how difficult and expensive the repair process was to fix it up. That’s why perspective matters. That’s why placing my hope in Christ, and not my circumstances, is worth it because it’s only from Him that true joy and peace can abound even when life stinks.
Some Bible verses to ponder:
1 Peter 1: 6-9: “ In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (NIV).
If you want a change in perspective feel free to email me. I’ll treat you like a tree stump and the conversation will be great. You can contact me here: Tim@the4pointer.com
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