My husband had to work on the public holiday last week, so we decided to all take the Friday off in lieu and go out for a well-deserved visit to Australia Zoo. We all love animals in my family. And of course, we heard that a new tiger cub had been born recently that we just had to see.
Animals are truly fascinating. Every time I go to a zoo, I find myself tantalised by some fact that I hadn’t heard before. I have often sat for extended periods of time just watching these magnificent reflections of God’s imagination and creativity.
This last visit, I found myself startled by the eagle. While my family walked on, largely unaffected by this creature, the sight of the beast stopped me in my tracks. As I stood there I heard a young girl remark, that an eagle’s wingspan can be between 2.5 to 3 metres. That is remarkable! Just at that moment the eagle spread its wings far apart and flew up to a nearby branch. It took my breath away. Suddenly, the description of God in Deuteronomy 32, of an eagle spreading its wings to protect its young…made perfect sense. To be under those wings, is to be completely covered.
Of course, I couldn’t stop the discovery process there. I ended up watching all these videos on YouTube of eagles protecting their young. I just had to comprehend the imagery in its full glory. The way the eagle shields its children using its unbelievable wingspan, made me understand far better what it means to be shielded by the Almighty. If God is savagely protective like the eagle, we are genuinely safe.
I think that is really important to know in this generation. Even though we haven’t experienced a world war in our lifetime, we seem to intuitively distrust out of a reduced sense of emotional safety. It’s sad really. We often guard ourselves, even when no threat is present. We don’t feel safe to be ourselves. We don’t feel safe to dress the way we want to. We don’t feel safe to say what we think. And the list could go on.
Well even though I don’t have any real revolutionary ideas at this point as to how to remedy this problem, I know that it detracts from the life we were created to live. And God in His wisdom gave us incredible metaphors and analogies in the scriptures to help us understand the protection He provides when we rest in His presence. Does that mean we never get attacked? Or bad things never happen? Of course not! But it certainly makes a big difference to know that under HIS wings, I am safe.
I personally find that I am on this journey with emotional safety. I am committed to being the truest version of myself. Which means I am trying to care a lot less about what I think people think of me, and a lot more about being fearlessly Mel as God designed me to be. Of course, I am still a work in progress. But the more I embrace the images of God as a Lion, a Shepherd or an Eagle…the less I find myself ‘reading’ people’s behaviour for affirmation. That doesn’t mean I am sharing everything with everyone. I’m not more naïve…I’m just not as afraid.
It has had such an incredible impact on me as a leader also. I think sometimes leaders can be way too ruled by the supposed perception of those that follow us. Often we don’t really know what others think about us, but we work really hard to make sure they think what we want them to think about us. It seems so ludicrous to state it like that, but unfortunately it’s so true. And if we are really being honest, sometimes we do that because we care way too much about being affirmed as a leader. We don’t feel safe, often for legitimate reasons, to be the incomplete evolving leader that we actually are. We fear that our people might think we aren’t strong enough, smart enough, ‘spiritual’ enough (for church leaders)…TO PUT IT PLAINLY we fear we aren’t ENOUGH. We need the validation. But imagine if we led out of love and kindness, and didn’t allow the fear of people’s perception to rule our leadership? It would be so much fun! I also feel like more leaders would see their visions coming to life (unless your vision is that of humanistic validation!) My point is, our sense of safety is a basic human need. And it doesn’t improve by contorting our personalities to people’s preferences. It heals by finally feeling completely safe in someone’s presence. The most significant presence being God’s. I highly recommend embracing these glorious images of God as a protector, so that you can live free and honest under His wings.
- Do you feel emotionally safe? What do you think emotional safety looks like?
- What would life and leadership look like if you were free of others perceptions of you?
- What ‘not enough’s’ are subconsciously leading/influencing your choices?