A person of faith is meant to have the characteristics of both a lion and a lamb: mighty in spirit while also humble and merciful. But sometimes the balance is thrown. We may struggle to be strong, or struggle to be forgiving.
The quest for balance in our lives is an everyday struggle, but we can see it as a challenge rather than a hardship. Sometimes all it takes is an attitude adjustment. How we talk to ourselves matters.
- When I have low energy, am I lazy or am I tired? If I’m lazy, I need to push myself. If I’m tired, I need to give myself permission to rest.
- When I am passive, is it because I am cowardly and apathetic, or is it because I am wisely staying clear? I need to be honest in my assessment and then act according to my conscience.
- When I don’t stand up to people, is it because I’m graceful, or is it because I fear uncomfortable situations? Am I avoiding a confrontation? If so, perhaps that’s a wise decision. Perhaps it’s simply the easiest one.
When mired in self-examination, we may forget that we need to treat our neighbors as OURSELVES. Therefore, if we treat ourselves badly, we won’t be up to the challenge of treating others well. We must show ourselves mercy and grace. We must hold ourselves accountable in strong leadership. We must defend ourselves as a mighty warrior of character.
When we show goodness, kindness and mercy to ourselves, we learn how to express these things to others. When we protect ourselves, we train to protect others. Mercy begins at home.
When I’m unsure of what to do, I ask myself “is this an action of faith or fear?” If I’m aligned with the character and attitudes of a lion and a lamb, then my decision is based on faith. If I’m not adhering to those traits, then I’m likely responding in fear.
Fear is a healthy and normal response, but our actions cannot be ruled by it. Fear is a close cousin to vanity, narcissism, selfishness, and sociopath leanings; as fear can be the foundation for behaviors that place self over others, breeding a lifestyle that is devoid of empathy. When we put our own fears and concerns over the well-being of others, it’s a fast and slippery slope to malice. Apathy and indifference lead to hatred, as it is easy to hate those for whom we care nothing for, and have dehumanized in our hearts. We no longer see each other as people when all we see is a potential threat to ourselves.
We choose faith over fear when we choose love over hate. While dehumanizing leads to apathy, indifference, and eventually hatred, the opposite is true as well. When we see humanity in each other, we feel responsibility and connection. Kindness and the traits of the lamb are more easily cultivated when we grow close to each other. While it is unrealistic to love everyone with the same kind of passion that we love our family and dearest friends, there is a type of love that shows mercy. This is the love we give when we are as lambs.
When the rights of the lambs to live gracefully in peace are threatened, the lions must defend them. All of us are pressed upon to be both a lion and a lamb in character, but not always in corresponding action. Decisions about actions require discernment. Put any concerns to meditation, prayer, and careful listening for answers. Compare your responses to the checklists in this post. Be bold like a lion: act decisively when you know what to do. Be merciful like a lamb: if you are mistaken, forgive yourself.
When we do our best, that’s good enough.
When we live our best, that’s good enough.
Hold yourself to high standards, but be merciful when you judge yourself.
Be as brave as a lion, but as gentle as a lamb- not only to others, but first to yourself.