Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Hummingbird and I

This morning, I caught a hummingbird trying to drink from the heavy white fringe of my 1960s-era yellow patio umbrella. She was very persistent in her fruitless efforts. She tried first one strand and then another, eventually setting about a dozen tassels swinging. I have seen hummingbirds try to drink from my Christmas lights before, but never from fringe.

She was moving so fast, as hummingbirds do, that she didn't pause to look elsewhere in my yard, where there are several nectar-rich succulent blossoms, and an actual hummingbird feeder. So she buzzed away, undernourished.

I immediately felt that this hummingbird and I had something in common.

I, too, move rather fast. Recently, a friend rather unflatteringly referred to me as a jet engine. I like the hummingbird analogy better. Moreover, it's accurate. In my constant search for personal fulfillment and productivity, I often look in the wrong place. And the faster I'm moving, the busier I get -- and therefore the more nourishment I need -- the less likely I am to go to the right source. Busyness creates fatigue, fatigue creates vulnerability, and emotional vulnerability leads to unwise decisions.

I look for emotional lift in a Diet Coke can.
I seek sustaining energy from a drive-through window.
I try to find levity and entertainment in TV shows that are either vapid or down-right dark.
I look for approval and encouragement from the people in my life least likely to give it.
I seek validation of my effectiveness in the moment-by-moment behaviors of my over-tired children.
I try to find connection and intimacy on facebook.
I attempt to find satisfaction in crossing yet another thing off my ever-lengthening list.

Many people believe that food cravings are clues to what our bodies actually need. This is far from true: people often crave things they are allergic to because eating these foods creates an endorphin high. The stressed and fatigued body cries out for fat and sugar, which will get you through an hour, but not even a whole afternoon. Emotionally, I find my cravings are equally off. When anxious, I gravitate toward more anxiety-provoking busyness, rather than the rest I need.

When I'm in balance and in my right mind, I might seek these sources instead:

Exercise as an emotional lift.
A protein smoothie or a sandwich for afternoon energy.
Levity in a tickle fight or a dance party with my daughters.
Encouragement from a safe friend who knows me and sees me for my whole self.
Validation in the long arc of my children's character development and the feedback from their teachers and peers.
Connection and intimacy with my husband, who's across the couch from me every single night.
Satisfaction in being God's loved child, and the knowledge that if I seek His kingdom and righteousness, all these other things will be added to me. ( Matthew 6:33).

The hummingbird by nature is not capable of moderation. She cannot walk or hop, but has only two speeds: perch, and full tilt. By nature I might be the same, swinging between breathless pace and breakdown. Thanks be to God that I have a higher calling than my broken nature. And thanks to the hummingbird for the reminder to seek the higher sources.

1 comment: