Lessons from the Sea Turtle

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42:5 (NIV)

When my husband and I visited the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, I became fascinated with sea turtles.

I learned that Mama Sea Turtle lays her eggs—as many as 120 at a time—in a nest she digs on a sandy beach, far enough away from the shoreline that the tides won’t reach it, yet close enough for the baby turtles to make their way to their ocean home once they’ve hatched and climbed out of the nest.

Sixty days after they’re laid, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings make their way to the shoreline. Thirty to 35 years later, females will return to the beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

The baby turtles’ lives are fraught with danger—mostly from predators on land and in the sea—but the period they are most vulnerable is when they make their trek from the nest to the shoreline.

Once they’ve hatched, the little turtles head for the brightest horizon. Hence during hatching season the lights on beachfront buildings are turned off and residents close their window blinds at night so the hatchlings don’t head for the wrong light.

Not only are they exposed to predators on their dash to the sea, but also they’re in danger of dehydration from the sun. Many don’t make it.

Yet helping them get from nest to surf is not in the best interest of the turtles. Although it’s a time fraught with danger, it’s necessary for the young turtles to make the trek themselves.

The crawl to the ocean allows them to wake up—remember they are only hours old. Alertness, mobility, and strength increase as they move.

The trek is also an important part of a complicated process whereby their surroundings are imprinted on the brains of the baby turtles, so the females will return to the very beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

I liken the hatchlings’ crawl to the ocean to the times in our lives when we, too, have to muddle through. Let’s take a lesson from the sea turtle.

First, head for the right light. Many false lights clamor for our attention, but only one Light is the right one that will lead us to our eternal home. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Second, know the trek is necessary. The trial will make you stronger. It will refine you: “For you, O God, have tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10). It will develop perseverance and maturity: “The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3–4).

Also, trials purify your faith: “These (trials) have come so that your faith—of even greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).

And finally, the trials impress upon us that our lives are not random wanderings. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27)—thus we bear His imprint. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). After our sojourning, which will include many times of trial, we’ll find our way to home—and our Creator—again.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light that guides me through the muddling times and to home. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 42.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

A Tangled Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV

It was the mother of all yarn tangles.

In 40 years of crocheting, I never experienced the tangled mess that confronted me last week.

We were on our way home from South Carolina after a week-long visit with our daughter and her family, and I planned to work on the poncho I’m making for her as a late birthday present. I’d wanted to finish it while I was there, but other activities—more fun—called me away from my project.

The pattern was rather monotonous—75 rows of one stitch, a single crochet that tended to make progress slow because the rows got longer with each round. It didn’t help that I had to tear out 10 rows because of a wrong stitch that affected the rows following it. Two and a half hours of work unraveled in less than a minute.

But I was determined to finish her gift and finish it right. While it wouldn’t be perfect—I’ve learned to cover most of my mistakes—it would be warm, cozy, and something she asked me to make.

We were two hours into the trip and I was making good progress when the yarn tangled. Now, I’ve had yarn tangles before, but this one was the mother of all yarn tangles. Don’t ask me how it got so hopelessly snarled, but the more I tried to unravel it, the more twisted it became. And it wasn’t just the end of the skein—I’d used only half of the 370-yard skein.

So I snipped the yarn, put the poncho-in-progress in the back seat, and began untangling 185 yards of what resembled a big bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I worked the rest of the 10-hour trip and still hadn’t finished when we arrived home. DH, my usual yarn untangler, unraveled the rest of it in an hour after we’d unpacked.

Crocheting—especially yarn tangles—teaches me a lot about life. Here are 10 principles I’ve learned:

  1. You don’t toss something away because it looks hopelessly messed up. Don’t waste something that, with time and patience, can be made into something good, useful, and beautiful.
  2. Sometimes things just doesn’t go as planned. Indeed, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So, you recalculate.
  3. It can take only a second to undo years of work. Pick yourself up and begin again.
  4. To get through the rough spots, cultivate determination and perseverance.
  5. Correcting mistakes is important if you want a satisfactory result. Even if it means undoing much of what you’ve done. Even if it means starting all over.
  6. Mistakes CAN be corrected. You just have to want to make them right.
  7. Just because you think your life is monotonous doesn’t mean it isn’t adding up to something worthwhile. Yes, the rows get longer and take more time to complete, but keep the end result in sight to give you the fortitude to push on through the monotony—and maybe even find joy and fulfillment in it.
  8. Slow progress and setbacks teach patience, and patience helps you to persevere to the end.
  9. You’re not alone. I didn’t unravel the mother of all yarn tangles by myself. By the time I got home, I was sick of it. But DH picked it up and finished it. So it is in life. Folks—I call them angels in disguise—come alongside us and help us to the finish line.
  10. You have to learn to accept help. And, even more important, know when to ask for it.

The mother of all yarn tangles now rests as a ball of yarn in my crochet project basket, waiting for its time to be made into something useful.

Thank You, God, that You can take this tangled mess I’ve made and make it into something beautiful. Amen.

Read and meditate on Romans 5:1–5.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.