I'd like to stretch out our discussion of "the windows of the soul" through part of January. So can you hang on and wait? Patience? Sure you can! I've got something really special that I want to share.
Yesterday, Steve and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. Each year is a milestone for people as different as we are. The two of us were talking recently about our differences which have been accentuated the last several months. As you well know, differences often come to the forefront during times of stress. Oh, we have had more intense stress in our marriage, it's just that this time has been a little different. Three people in the house... two sick for an extended period of time... the one who is well (me) tries to spin too many plates... Maybe you get the picture...
On the Smalley/Trent "animal personality" chart, I am a lion and Steve is a golden retriever. We have different animal names for ourselves. I am an elephant and he is a bear. How can two such animals live together and still be a blessing to each other? I am here to say... only by the Holy Spirit of God abiding in them and working through them. So, if you have time, you may read the animal descriptions of the two that I have compiled from internet research or just skip down to the end and read part of what the bear shared with the elephant yesterday.
Patti, the elephant:
- HABITAT AND RANGE: can live on the plains and in the mountains up to 15, 000 feet... many live on parks and reserves
- DIET: eats lots of vegetables; drinks lots of water
- LIFE SPAN 65 to 70 years in the wild; 70 to 80 years when domesticated; their life span depends on their teeth - once their last set of teeth wear out, they can no longer eat and they die
- REPRODUCTION: most give birth during the rainy season
- COMMUNICATION: use several types of sounds to communicate: 1) rumbling - a deep growling sound, most of which is below the range of human hearing; 2) a variety of screams and trumpets used to frighten and intimidate predators as well as communicate alarm...also for greeting
- SENSES: keen senses of hearing and smell; weak eyesight
- SIZE: big and tall
- OTHER PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: use trunk to dig
- SOCIABILITY: families are made up of sisters and their offspring often living in groups of 9-11; a mature adult female dominates family groups; related family groups are part of larger herds that move and feed together
- THINKING: well developed brains and great memories
- ROLE: Often pave the way for others to follow; they can lead a procession of animals stomping down the brush with their feet or removing trees/branches that are in the way with their trunks
Steve, the brown bear:
- HABITAT AND RANGE: prefer to live in cooler climates and will migrate away from the heat; can be found on the plains, in the forests, the tundra, and in sub-alpine mountain areas
- DIET: carnivores who eat berries and vegetation
- LIFE SPAN: 20-25 years
- REPRODUCTION: monogamous
- COMMUNICATION: is complicated, sometimes misunderstood, and primarily through body language: 1) sitting down indicates disinterest or lack of concern for onlookers; 2) standing on hind legs generally an indication of curiosity or interest in whatever it may have noticed, not an act of aggression; 3) when threatened or apprehensive, the typical response would be the popping its jaw, slapping the ground, or expelling air loudly; 4) when afraid, the bear chomps or clacks teeth which is often misunderstood by other animals as getting ready to be aggresive; 5) loud roars are usually a warning that they want to protect their territory, not that they want to be an aggressor; 6) bears often "purr" when comfortable or warm much like a cat
- SENSES: great eyesight and keen sense of smell; strong instinct for food -can be easily trapped when humans put out food; a common saying among forest rangers is, "a fed bear is a dead bear"
- SIZE: big and tall
- OTHER PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: long claws for great digging ability; strong teeth and jaws that are almost incapable of breaking large bones; long thick fur; although they usually move slow and leisurely, they are able to run fast and swim well
- SOCIABILITY: shy; mostly solitary; can be easily frightened; small families; may gather in large numbers at food sources; not a full hibernator, the brown bear likes to "den" in a protected spot such as a cave, crevice, or hollow log in the winter
- THINKING: curious and intelligent; "complex and fascinating animal deserving of great respect"
- ROLE: quiet protector; no other animal will be a predator on a brown bear other than a tiger or another bear
Yesterday, on our 36th wedding anniversary, the bear wrote a full page typewritten letter to the elephant. A few excerpts from that Holy Spirit led letter are as follows:
- Besides giving my life to Jesus, marrying you is the best thing I’ve ever done.
- You’ve made me a better person. You’ve opened my eyes to what it looks like to give of oneself for the betterment of others.
- You are the kinkeeper of our family. Our children and their spiritual health are at the forefront of your mind and top of your prayer list.
- We’ve faced some pretty tough times together over the last three and ½ decades, but what we have discovered again and again is the solid truth of 1 John 4:4 – “Greater is He in us than he that is in the world.” God created His children to be “overcomers,” and by His grace, we have been – together!
- Our marriage has not been perfect – NO SURPRISE – there are no perfect marriages. However, our marriage has tested and challenged our individual growth to the point that we are better individuals because we are married, first to Christ, then one another.
- You deserve the best husband I can be. Please forgive me when I’m not and praise God when I succeed.
- Next to Jesus, I love you more than anyone and anything!
- Happy 36th anniversary! God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
Father God, thank you for my husband, the Spirit-led, steel and velvet, brown bear. Thank you for blessing me with this man who I so honor and respect. I praise you for Steve Sikes! I honor the differences! Because of Jesus, we are husband and wife!