>(The story below is my adaptation of Aesop’s fable “The Farmer and the Snake.”)
“Snow in April,” sighed Kara. “This afternoon it looked as if spring finally arrived.”
“False alarm. Weather changes quickly in the Eastern Adirondacks” answered Dr. Gibson, while examining the ears of a stray Golden Retriever in her care.
“Do me a favor Kara,” continued Dr. Gibson, “please return Buffy to her crate before you lock up this evening. I need to scurry or I’ll miss Lily’s recital.
“Not a problem, Dr. G.”
Kara viewed locking the clinic a perk of her job as a veterinary assistant. An avid animal lover, she considered herself a friend to all God’s creatures and took care making sure each patient was tucked safely in its crate before she went home.
Stepping over an icy puddle to open her car door, Kara noticed a long, dark, slender object resembling a garden hose. Wiping the moist snow from her eyelashes she bent over for a closer look and realized that the garden hose was actually a nearly frozen snake.
“Look at you,” crooned Kara. She recognized the reptile as the endangered Timber Rattlesnake and decided to take it inside the clinic. Removing a gray flannel blanket from her trunk, she wrapped the coiled snake. “C’mon buddy, I’ll warm you up just in time for mating season.”
Laying the wrapped snaked on top of the old radiator, Kara found an empty reptile cage large enough for the 30 foot slithering creature and prepared it for the new occupant. She returned to pick up the snake and held it to her bosom. “Aww, you are getting better already,” she said. As she lowered the snake into its temporary home pain flashed through her arm. Dropping the reptile in its cage while reaching for her cell phone Kara cried, “Why did you bite me? I’m your friend and I saved your life.”
I first read Aesop’s original fable The Farmer and the Snake as a seventh-grader, but it wasn’t until I heard a recent retelling involving an older woman and a talking snake that Aesop’s point pierced my mind. In my days as an allegiant perfectionist, people pleasing became a duty. I would often forget my own likes and dislikes as I concerned myself only with gaining the approval of others.
Ironically, the path of a people pleasing is jagged and disharmonious, yet fear and mistaken identity kept my feet on that rugged road. I met several hurting souls who I thought I could love out of their misery. And each wound I earned in the process confused me. How could they? I thought. Why me? I pondered.
As I enter this new phase in my journey to become the me Christ intended, the film-covered lens through which I once viewed life has been cleaned. For the first time ever, I understand that I cannot change other individuals. I can pray for them. I can, with boundaries, love them. But, I cannot and am not meant to be their all-in-all.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12: 1-2 (The Message).