License to be a Lioness

lioness and cubs

I think my Teacher has me write so that I won’t forget my assignments–what it is I’m supposed to be trying to do and be. My blog is directed squarely at me in that way. And lately He’s been parading a theme back and forth in my space, so I best jot down my marching orders. The parade banner reads: This is a day and age to be a lion.

Wait. Isn’t every day and age an advantageous one to be a lion? Don’t they rule the jungle? Isn’t any challenge of their fiefdom categorically denied? Don’t they have the weight of just being born lions going for them?

Yes, but that’s not my point, because lions don’t dominate and assert themselves just to dominate and assert themselves. There are driving factors far more admirable and cooperative at play in these communal creatures.

At any rate, I’m fairly certain that some humans don’t imitate lion strength simply because they don’t know they’re meant to be lion-esque or think it’s outright wrong to be so. Maybe the negative connotation is that it’s all bullying and selfish conquering. But I think it’s time to challenge that thinking. It’s time a greater number of benevolent lion-leaders emerge on the side of right in this country lest imposter lion-leaders prevail (of the lording over type).

Heretofore in life, I feel like I’ve lived in a day and age fashioned for lambs. I’ve witnessed the important role of gentle followers–of humble learners with a seeming innocence and harmlessness about them. For a long while, the environment in the country just called for–allowed for–a mutual deference and respect that was wooly and more playful. Lambs were relatively safe. A soft touch wasn’t generally taken advantage of or attacked (although there have always been those who will).  A sweet disposition or kindness wasn’t generally mistaken for weakness or exploited.

But today…today, oh boy…a stronger spine and sense of true north aren’t optional for thriving. A cunning, solid stance is crucial, or ground will be lost, both personally and collectively as a country. I’m talking about traditional soul and spirit territory being re-charted. I’m talking about historic heart and mind landscapes being dug up. I’m talking about the fundamental topography of beliefs and principles being ground down. All this is done in a dog-eat-dogma world of opinions and ideologies flying at the speed of bytes and bits. If you don’t know where you stand today, you are going to fall for anything–especially a rewriting of history–into a dismal wasteland far from a free democracy founded on self-evident truths.

Lambs can’t hold ground. They don’t do uber powerful (the warmth of wool notwithstanding). They aren’t created to exert leadership and influence. In fact, they’re in dire need of protection just to survive. They’re created to blindly follow; they’re simply not bright in the ways of the world. They play a different role. If winning people over with warm sweaters, good cheese or cuteness is necessary, they’re your guys. There is a time and place for that, too, and we each need a lamb side.

But lions…. They preserve their tribes–their pride and pride land–at great cost to themselves. They earn territory and manage it sacrificially for the sake of each other. They bravely do their part to ward off invaders who would steal their sustenance or prevent free movement at home. They aren’t confused about their authority or rights. They lay down their lives to preserve and protect those in their territory.

Furthermore, they won’t waste time on pettiness, anxiety or the unimportant. They don’t wander around between hunts (the lionesses make the kills to provide food, fyi) wondering if a fellow animal will hurt them (because the lions make very sure it won’t). They rest comfortably much of the time, relaxing and replenishing reserves. They save their strength for the unavoidable battles. They don’t pick useless fights, but they understand not every animal respects borders or knows the rules of a fair fight, so they’re appropriately on guard. They’re not wasting energy being bitter or re-fighting yesterday’s battles. They live today. Restlessness isn’t part of their existence, until the basics of survival and leadership are required, and then they get the job done. They stake their land, raise their kids, feed their families and call it a day. They’re not worried that they’re too powerful or might hurt feelings living the way they do. They don’t apologize for their convictions or try to convince other animals that they have the right to their own choices. They just walk in power and confidence. They know who and what they are, and they mind their own business, except when their business of family and survival are assaulted.

There’s a lot of human assault going on today in our country. A lot. And the folks trained and practiced at responding as lambs may not be doing themselves, their families or the country a service if some lion skills aren’t learned now (as in, right now, as in, yesterday, as in, I’m late).

When I talk about frequent assaults occurring, let me be clear. I’m not talking about assaults with words. There will always be a more than adequate amount of free speech going on. Smart and…not-so-smart…people all like to talk. But again, lions don’t worry about whining or insults to their feelings. They’ll let you howl or cry–no harm, no foul. What I mean is that there are a lot of actual assaults to freedom, bodies and possessions going on. And if you’re on the receiving end, you need lion prowess now. Just try assaulting a lion’s freedom, and see what happens. See if he’s at the ready to fight for his pride (family). Lions know when and to whom to submit, and they will submit to no one who hasn’t earned proper authority to lead them. They understand boundaries and respond appropriately to trespassing.

Gaaaasp? Is it right to fight for territory? Yes. Freedom plus self- and stuff-ownership are proper territories to defend. Boundaries and freedom were Created into the order of things. When we go beyond someone’s boundary, we should expect resistance. I didn’t say when we go beyond their emotional or mental capacity to be verbally challenged, we should expect retaliation or assault. That’s called being a thug. I said, when we pass their physical borders, expect a defense. The right to control our own space is God-given. (The right to lay down your physical space and allow martyrdom is also God-given, but it’s not up to anyone but you.)

Meaning? To clearly see the distinction between hurt feelings and actual boundary crossing, we need more lions.

To be ready to stand against epidemic levels of faulty logic skills that produce nice sounding (but wrong) arguments, we need more lions.

To not be swayed or intimated by loud, mocking or condemning voices, we need more lions.

To not be fooled by self-appointed teachers offering shallow solutions to ocean-deep problems, we need more lions.

To easily recognize that relativism doesn’t line up with reality and dismiss it, we need more lions.

To know that resentment toward success and wealth shoots those less fortunate in both feet, we need more lions.

To know that you keep a baby (respect for this country) while discarding bathwater (past mistakes conquered and current ones being fought), we need more lions.

To have the self-control not to take easy offense, only picking critical battles, we need more lions.

To identify double standards and hypocrisy in action, we need more lions.

To recognize and heal culturally rampant entitlement and narcissism, we need more lions.

To keep our bodies strong and fit and ready, we need more lions.

To be honest, I prefer lambhood…sheepdom…as it were. I wish I was better at balancing it with my inner lioness. By nature, I like the thought of everybody getting along, being agreeable, simple and keeping the peace. (You can imagine how much I like feeling called to write pseudo-political posts then.)  Join me in “Kumbaya” and smores around the campfire, pretty please? I’m that to a fault if left unchallenged. But I look around and see so many reasons to challenge myself now, to stand and act like a resolved beast at times, whether my kitty paws fit comfortably yet or not.

In true sheep form I, like many of you I’m sure, have often responded passively and without retaliation to being called names or judged for my beliefs and the flock of which I’m a part. (My flock definitely isn’t trending on twitter now-a-days.) I’ve been rejected for not going along with what’s popular and not cowering to the most aggressive voice. But those are teeeeeny, tiny potatoes compared to actual persecution for beliefs by world standards. I’ve responded with lamb-gentleness before (with a spotty record, to be sure), since indeed there are many times we’re to follow the One who was led like a lamb to the slaughter without protest.

There’s a time for baaa-ing and a time for roaring. I mean the Lion of Judah certainly knew how to roar, and loudly, at the right time. I sense the time for roaring has come for those who would do it purely to protect and preserve freedom–everyone’s freedom. I think the lions, whether lazing in the sun between exhibits of strength or flexing their muscles because territory is being threatened, aren’t at all conflicted by the fact they have to be both severe and soft. They just know which to be when and that firmly standing up to some opponents enables rest and peace.

So wake up, lions and lionesses. You need not be phased by monkeys–foolish sorts who spout off for sport. There’s no need to be intimidated by tigers–haughty chest-thumpers determined to do damage or destroy another’s turf out of vengeance or personal gain. You need not be worried that you’ll be overcome when you’re outnumbered; a lion isn’t worried about a pack of laughing hyenas. You need only to remember Whose you are and that Truth never changes. Lions don’t walk around being obnoxious, abusive or arrogant. They just walk authentically strong–who they’re created to be as jungle kings–extending protection and offering sustenance and order.

I understand there’s a time for everything under the sun. (I certainly didn’t come up with that because, again, I prefer ridiculously unrealistic, sugary niceness at all times. Thanks for nothing, Ecclesiastes 3.) I believe today is a day for honing lion skills so we’re ready when sheepishness just won’t do.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,
Carolyn

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