Tonight I returned home to find a rather large lizard perched comfortably on my living room ceiling. Now lizards aren’t exactly my favorite of all God’s creatures. In spite of all the good they do in the bug-eating department, I still tend to think of them more along the lines of snakes with legs.
I didn’t get in too big a hurry to do anything about the guy. The poor thing was missing a tail as it was, and I just figured he’d be better left alone for a while. Still, my wife made her feelings well known that she didn’t want to find him on her pillow in the morning.
After a couple hours of working on the computer, I went back into the living room to check his status. He had moved several feet and was now perched on top of the front doorframe. He kept changing colors in an effort to convince me he wasn’t really there. But that strategy didn’t work. I got a plastic tumbler to catch him in so I could release him outside. But the little devil bolted for the window and hid behind the blinds. I obviously had not taken the time to build a trust relationship.
So, standing there in my boxers, I raised the window blinds. Hopefully most of the neighbors were already asleep and missed the show!
As I looked for my lizard friend, it seemed he had truly done a disappearing act. Then I spotted him, breathing hard and hanging upside-down at the very top of the inside window frame. I had him in a good spot to exit through the front door — if only I could get him down safely.
I went to the garage and found a mop. “That handle should work nicely,” I thought to myself. Of course, when I tried to “convince” him with that, he just got more scared and bolted again. Fortunately, he remained in the general area. Thinking quickly, I prepared an exit for him by opening the front door. I found a soft-bristled broom. With a little “encouragement” from me, I watched my little visitor make his way out onto the porch where he regained freedom — unharmed.
My job as a counselor and minister is not unlike this interaction with the lizard. Sometimes people just get into places they have no business being. That can be physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. But just because someone with good intentions comes along, that doesn’t mean they trust that right away.
Being a good helper is not only about having the right motives, but it also involves using the right tools. My first attempt with the misguided lizard was to capture him. . . . you know, take him from where he’d grown comfortable — even if led astray — and MAKE him go exactly where I thought he should. That was probably not the best tack for building a relationship with the poor guy.
While my desire never changed — to get him out of his fix unharmed — my methods did. As I softened my approach, he seemed a little less afraid. And with very soft touches and a little encouragement, he found his way back to a much more appropriate and nourishing environment.
Maybe you find yourself a lot like that lizard — stuck in a place where you just don’t belong — a place like depression, addiction, anxiety, unforgiveness, or abuse. Maybe you are trying to change your colors in order to keep from being noticed. I hope you will realize that there are helpers in your reach who have good intentions and appropriate tools to help you find your way.
Don’t keep hiding from the very ones most willing and able to guide you safely through. Do your part to get moving from where you are to where you want to be.
Just think: there’s an open door waiting for you to walk through. How about taking that first step of faith today?