Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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October 17, 2017 “What I Need to Know I Can Learn from a Giraffe”

Folks who visit my office catch on fairly quickly to the fact that I love giraffes.  I have a giraffe batik for the wall.  I have a giraffe from Haiti, a gift from a church member’s mission trip.  I have a cloisonné giraffe from China, a gift from my daughter’s college trip abroad.  Many are carved out of wood and come from Africa; another is made from compressed pecan shells.  I have picture frames that feature giraffes and plates with artists’ renderings of giraffes.  Perhaps my most unusual giraffe object is a drawing of a church I served.  It was their parting gift to me—a beautiful realistic view of the church featuring an inset of a rock wall that surrounded the property with actual children from the church of that day sitting on the wall.  But surprisingly, guess what shows up on the church lawn—well, giraffes, of course!

So why so many giraffes?  Why the interest in giraffes?

I love their beautiful coat.  They look as though a thoughtful, creative painter gave each his/her one-of-a-kind coat!  (Yes, that thoughtful, creative painter would be God!)  I love how their long necks enable them to reach for food all other animals might miss.  (Yes, they see the world of possibility many others might miss!)  But most of all I like the graceful way that they move about on their long, lanky legs with heads in the clouds.

               It’s not always easy to move about in graceful—or grace-filled—lives with heads in the clouds!  As human beings we are far more apt to get bogged down.  We get caught up in what someone says about us, and we allow those comments to destroy our day!  We allow criticism to determine how we feel about ourselves!  We are likely to take negative words and to wallow in the feelings they create for days—even months on end.

            By having one’s head in the clouds I don’t mean to suggest that we live our lives removed from reality and certainly not removed from the world of relationships.  Relationships give our lives meaning and purpose!  Neither do we need to be totally removed from criticism offered by others, for CONSTRUCTIVE criticism—criticism that is honest, fair, and offered in the right spirit—provides tremendous potential for us to learn and to grow.  But when we leave the world of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and move into comments designed to hurt, to demoralize, and to destruct then we need to allow the giraffe to be our model.

            Our starting point can be the picture of the giraffe moving gracefully above the fray, its head stuck in the clouds seeing parts of life that others might miss.  Our starting point can be in prayer asking God for an experience of the grace-filled life that surely he intends for each one of us!

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