Monday, December 10, 2007

What I've learned from Garden Eels

Earlier this year, I visited the Georgia Aquarium for the first time. Sure, the beluga whales were fun to watch as were many of the other sea creatures. However I was most intrigued with the garden eels. And apparently I still am. They aren't very sophisticated at all and they really don't do much of anything, but I was absolutely amazed to learn that they live in the same exact place their entire lives. At first when I saw them I remember having the conversation with my friend Allison as to whether it was some sort of seagrass or an animal (or whatever things that live in the ocean are called). It was a little hard to tell. That was when the volunteer working at the aquarium informed us that garden eels find their spot and very seldom leave. They live in colonies among other garden eels. The part above the sand is only about a quarter of their total length and when they are frightened or sense danger they retreat into their burrow until the danger has passed. What a boring and static life these little critters lead, I remember thinking.
Recently though I've been thinking about how our lives aren't all that different from theirs. Ok, I probably shouldn't generalize and assume that everyone else is like me, so I'll just speak for myself. I am the kind of person who loves routine and structure. With a few exceptions, each day is basically a carbon copy of the previous one and the one that is to follow. During the week, I wake up, fix my carnation instant breakfast (chocolate), go to work, eat a banana at 10:00 a.m., work work work, eat a peanut butter and honey (or jelly) sandwich for lunch, work work work some more, go home, go to the gym to workout, go back home, eat dinner, watch tv, fall asleep, only to do it again the next day. Every Friday and Sunday afternoon, I take a nap. If something occurs that requires me to deviate from this pattern, it makes me a little grumpy to be quite honest. Basically once I fall into a routine that I am comfortable with, I stick to it. Bor-ing. Seriously. But my routine is one that is "safe" and human nature tends to cling to things that are safe. Just like the garden eels...if we sense danger (and by danger I don't necessarily mean imminent bodily harm), we retreat into our safety net that we have created for ourselves.
Here lately I've found myself more and more restless in my routine which is a little odd considering I have only been in Athens for about 5 months or so. I'm still adjusting to the town but in my mind, I have already decided that I am not here for the long haul by any means so maybe that's why I'm restless...I don't really want to settle in or get too comfortable. Frankly, I am not so gung-ho about asking "ok, God what is it that you want me to do?" because of my love for the familiar. However if I am being led to something that isn't "safe" and "comfortable" then I must be willing to get out of the boat so to speak. We are not here on our own agendas (and this is something that I struggle with daily) so it's high time I stop acting like it!


allison said...

Well put HP. I confess that I quickly fall into a routine and am unhappy when it's broken. As you concluded, this may not be what the Lord has for us. He may have something that isn't safe or part of the natural day to day. And we know what He has is so much better, so who are we to question. I'll be excited to hear all that happens as you open yourself to the Lord and trust to walk in His way.

Josh & Donna said...

amen sista! i love, love, love your honesty. and as a fellow garden eel kinda gal, i can completely empathize!