Lessons from Squirrels

We can learn so much from observing animals!

Learning from squirrels.

I am thinking about the little squirrels that live in my yard. Each autumn I watch them store up food for the coming winter. They store food for one year at a time, not ten years at a time. I once heard a minister say that to constantly try to “keep” everything was to have a poverty mentality, some fear that you might need it someday and therefore, it was to say that you don’t believe I Am is enough. But I Am is El Shaddai, more than enough.

Thoughts from the Tao Te Ching:

Putting a value on status will create contentiousness.

If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.

By not displaying what is desirable, you will

cause the people’s hearts to remain undisturbed. The sage governs by emptying minds and hearts,

by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

Practice not doing. . . .

When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.

Dyer, Wayne W.. Living the Wisdom of the Tao (p. 9). Hay House. Kindle Edition.



19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

King James Version


Placing too much value on status really does create contention. When you exalt someone because they are pretty or born wealthy or famous or smart, you immediately stir up strife, especially if you undervalue the people who are there for you every day, making life happen.

Virtue. Restraint. Integrity. 

Those words seem to have fallen out of favor in our mainstream culture, at least here in America. I love my country so don’t take this the wrong way, but we are an abundantly blessed nation, and we are an abundantly WASTEFUL nation. We have sheds, storage units, houses and garages filled with clothes we never wear, purses we never carry, shoes we never walk in, furniture we never sit on, dishes we never eat out of, toys our kids never play with and books we never read.

LIVE abundantly, not hoard abundantly.

I believe in abundance. I believe we are meant to have all that we need and want in this life, but abundance is not equivalent to waste. There’s a story in the New Testament where Jesus talks about a man who had immense wealth and instead of using his excess for good, he just decided to build more barns to house all his belongings, then he died and took nothing with him. The whole point in having belongings is LIVE abundantly, not hoard abundantly. Live is an action word.

The first shall be last.

I notice that the Tao Te Ching talks about not showing off one’s stuff and not pushing to get ahead. This goes so against the way our society has been set up through the years. We’re taught to work hard and push our way to the top, but what if the top is really the bottom? Jesus talked about how when a person comes in and seeks to have the seat of honor that he will be removed and the seat given to another. What if trying to be “first” became unimportant to us?

I teach and inevitably every time the kids line up to go anywhere there’s that one kid (sometimes more) that will run and push to be first. I always send that kid to the back of the line, pick some child who simply lined up and put that one at the head of the line and then I’ll say, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” The kid who pushed and tried to be first will always say, “What does that mean?” I simply smile and say, “You think about it and figure that out.” Maybe, the answer is found in the idea that he who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. So, whatever we do, if it comes from a place of pure selflessness, it is God’s way and that therefore, it will work out just as it should.

A few years ago, a woman attempted to cost me my job. She held a magnifying glass over my professional life and constantly pointed out all of my flaws, which were, and still are, many. She nitpicked at my inadequacies, pointing them out to my boss and to the people I worked with.  She repeatedly brought up the “sins of my past” and made me feel so small. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. My stomach churned. My heart ached and I grew bitter, at her, at those around me. Every time I saw her, I ached. I seethed with self-loathing. Why couldn’t I be good enough? My body was under control. I had sold myself to the cause, to the mission and had sacrificed a well-paying job to be where I was and now, on a daily basis, I was being raked over the coals for little things that didn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things, but these little things were monstrous to her and pretty soon, I started to doubt my self-worth.  I have a tendency to look at the overall plot of life and I may not get hung up on the typos of life. She was the type of person who zeroed in on the typos of life and overlooked the plot or the effect that constantly pointing out the typos was having on the characters. In fact, to her, the typos of life were life itself. They mattered most or so it seemed to me.

She was puffed up with pride over my downfalls, or that’s what I thought. And though I apologized a million times, nothing I said redeemed me in her eyes. Then one day, during my vacation time, I was hoeing my vegetable garden, trying to pray, trying to find peace within myself, tears sliding down my cheeks. Why did it matter so much that this woman was condescending to me? Yet, I could not find the peace I sought. Then a knowing, like a whisper from a far shore, came to me, “Forgive her.”

“What?” I said. “Forgive her? She’s the one who has found flaws with me and she won’t forgive me for not being perfect. She will say that I’m forgiven because she wants to look spiritual, but in her mind I’m still not good enough. What she really wants is for me to be fired or to just be totally broken as a person.”

The soul-whisper came again, “You can’t make another person forgive you. You can’t make her like you,” came the knowing in my knower. “You can only release the pain that her unwillingness to accept you for who you are has caused you and you must forgive her for making you dislike who you are, for picking your life apart, for fault-finding, for trying to get you fired.” I dropped my hoe and held my hands up in surrender, speaking to my maker. “I forgive her,” I said. “I don’t understand her, but I do forgive her.” A sense of peace swept over me and I when I went back to work, she had no power over me. I was free from her hold and strangely enough, I think she knew it.

Not long after that I learned that the woman was severely OCD, that she had such strong perfectionistic tendencies that she drove even herself crazy and it had come because nothing she did had ever been good enough for her mother and suddenly, I felt sad for her, that she had lived her entire life, trying to perform, to work her way into God’s grace and into social acceptance. I was glad for my “freedom”, the freedom to be imperfect, the freedom to just be me. The truth about her was that she had low self-esteem and made herself feel better by belittling those she deemed as “less perfect” and by that I mean that she obsessed over which way the canned food labels were turned and that when any little thing was out of order, she became an emotional basket-case and barged into the supervisor’s office in tears, that she called the board and insisted on getting what she wanted. Within two years she was gone and I kept my job until I was ready to leave on good terms.

My point in telling this is that there will always be those people’s whose expectations we can’t live up to, but we aren’t meant to live up to someone else’s expectations. We aren’t meant to be molded into someone else’s idea of perfection, but we are meant to forgive and until we forgive, we are letting someone else control our lives. Unforgiveness will make a person bitter and sick.