Footsteps in Faith: What can we learn from the flea?

| February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Shin

Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Shin

Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Shin
524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
25th Sustainment Brigade,
25th Infantry Division
As a kid, I grew up with dogs, and I remember encountering those little black critters that hide in the fur of our dogs called fleas.

There does not seem to be anything remarkable about fleas except their tenacity at being a nuisance. However, there is something fleas teach us.

Figure A: The cat flea, C. felis. Image courtesy of Parasite and Diseases Image Library, Australia

Figure A: The cat flea, C. felis. Image courtesy of Parasite and Diseases Image Library, Australia

Fleas can jump up to 100 times their height. When you put fleas in a jar container and close the lid, they will jump until they hit the lid. After 20 minutes, the fleas will stop hitting the lid and jump just short of the lid.

Even after you open the lid, the fleas will continue to jump just below where the lid was. Their experience of hitting the lid prevents them from reaching their potential to jump to freedom.

I like this story because it reminds me of how people often react to trauma and pain. Our experience often prevents us from overcoming our own limitations to reach the full potential of how God originally designed us, psychologically, physically and spiritually. Some of our limitations are real, but some are self-imposed, like the fleas in the jar.

Have you ever hit your head so many times that you stopped trying? Have you gotten in the habit of limiting yourself in order to protect yourself? What if the lid is not there anymore? As we continue into the new year, let us not give in to being slaves to our self-imposed hurts and limitations.

Footsteps in FaithI want to highlight one important theme that can help us overcome our self-imposed limitations: community.
A pastor once said that the best antidote to self-focused or narcissistic behavior is community. We live at a time when time and space is radically compressed.

Thirty years ago, cost and technology made it difficult to call long distance to another country. Now, technology has evolved to the point we are able to stay in touch with many people effortlessly.

At the same time, it means we are rarely fully present with our close friends and family. We may have many Facebook friends, but very few real relationships. We get their words and images, but not in-person contact. This has created a culture of individualism and loneliness.  I encourage you to evaluate your relationships and strive to belong to a community that breathes positivity and growth.

What community do you belong to that can speak life and healing into your life? Whether it is your local chapel or spiritual community, the sky is the limit. One thing is certain: We were created to thrive in community.

A weaker community can be built around a common interest like hobbies, sports or music. Stronger communities are built around deep beliefs and causes, or powerful common experiences common to our Army profession, such as going to battle and surviving together.

As hard as it is to build strong communities, we have tremendous resources. We have many challenges and obstacles, but there is no alternative.

God willing let us escape the flea circus and live beyond the limits of the imaginary lid.

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