Northern Harrier

Northern HarrierThis is a picture of a northern harrier. I was attempting to get a picture of a sparrow in a field when this guy flew over. The sparrow disappeared down into the brush, and in revenge I took a picture of the harrier as it flew away.

The picture illustrates something about the manner in which this hawk hunts. It will not only follow its prey visually, it will also fly low and slow enough to listen for its next meal. Somewhere down below is a rodent standing watch for the rest of his family. When he sees the hawk flying nearby he will let out a little bark. This will warn the family to run for cover.

But up above, it also signals the harrier, which will turn to follow the sound. It might not see the rodent yet, but the victim will still be watching. When the bird turns its direction, it will likely let out another warning because of the strength of its instinct. The bird will again fine tune its direction. As the bird gets closer the former sentinel now makes a mad dash out of the clearing, likely screaming panic as it goes. These sounds guide in the final and deadly approach of the harrier. The rodent is assisting the hawk with the language of defeat.

Unfortunately, rodents are not alone in using the language of defeat. I see it all the time among people. It’s on Facebook when a job hunter fills their wall with drunken pictures and temperamental rants. It’s in the classroom when a student says to themselves they are too stupid to learn algebra. It’s on ball fields, where players don’t even wait for the game to end, before openly blaming teammates for losing games. It is very common for people to get emotionally carried away and say thing which are aimed at others, but harm themselves as well.

Like the rodent in the field it might start with a normal life circumstance, likely progresses with instinctive reactions overriding common sense, and then finds its full destructive force when words spill out under the spell of emotional pain. The speaker feels justified in making harsh comments publicly, but everyone exposed to their tirade will shape their opinion of the speaker accordingly.

Do you remember the Parable of the Talents where the master says, “I will judge you by your own words.”? Most of us are guilty of speaking unwisely and revealing to those around us, the less positive side of our own nature. James speaks to the issue by teaching the tongue is untamable. These passages, and many more, tell us how important it is to choose our words carefully.

Probably one of the best quick summaries is from Proverbs 25:28. A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down.


Self-worth and the Heart

In The Storeroom of the Heart I address three issues which affect the heart and its ability to empower a well lived life. Can you guess what they are? Here is a quote from the book to give you a strong hint as to the one most people miss.

A broken heart, or discouragement, makes us less able to achieve, less likely to do the right things, and more vulnerable to temptation. Discouragement makes us weak in heart, not just in the emotional sense, but in the sense our moral fiber becomes weakened. It is important to accept and understand how difficult events in life also damage our hearts.

If you said self-esteem, broken-heartedness or discouragement then, yes you got it. (I did say it was a strong hint.) But you might be looking at my answer and questioning whether self-esteem is the same thing as being broken-hearted or discouraged. It’s a matter open to opinion perhaps but I say yes—both are what you think of yourself. Self-esteem is what you think of yourself in the long term, while the other two are what you think of yourself in the short term. Both are a matter of your opinion of your own value.

The book is available by order from any book source, including amazon and including ebooks.  For you convenience here is a link to the publisher site if you wish to get it from them.