Stop Hurting Yourself!

[updated: 1/28/19]

One of my favorite exhibits at our local zoo is the aviary where they keep the Rainbow Lorikeets. As the name would lead you to suspect, these birds display all the colors of the rainbow in their multicolored plumage. They are remarkably beautiful.

Except for Igor.

(Yes, the zookeepers have named each bird.)

Igor actually has the same exact coloring as all the others, except around his neck. There, instead of his fine-looking feathers, Igor sports a ring of naked pale skin.

Mandy, the zookeeper (yes, the animals have named each of them too), explained that months ago, Igor came down with a sore throat. Determined to address the problem, he began to pick at his throat with his beak.

Now these birds are constantly using their beaks to pick at their own feathers. And when they’re not doing that, they’re picking at the feathers of their fellow birds. In this way, they meticulously groom themselves and each other. It’s what keeps them looking so lovely.

Except for Igor. In this instance Igor wasn’t trying to gently groom his neck as would be natural. He was trying to attack his throat problem.

Of course, he was never going to fix the inside of his neck by attacking the outside, but he wasn’t able to discern the difference.

Mandy assured me that when they first noticed this behavior they diagnosed and treated the problem. But it was all too late. They don’t know why (perhaps his neck bothered him now because he had been picking at it), but he eventually denuded his entire neck of its former feathered finery.

Igor lacked discernment.

He identified a problem, but then made more trouble for himself in the way he attempted to address it. And not only did he fail to solve the original problem, he created a new one.

I’m like Igor sometimes. I feel down, so I eat a dozen cookies to make me feel better. Then I feel sick to my stomach. And then I gain weight and feel even worse.

Or perhaps I’m mad at someone, so I imagine a dozen different ways I could make them suffer. And then, after plucking out half of my feathers, I’m so mad I wind up yelling at one of my sweet daughters for no reason. And then I’m depressed again, so I set out on a new quest for the cookie jar. (I think my wife has hidden it. Now I’m mad again.)

How about you? Can you relate to Igor?

How many times do we try to fix problems going on inside us by changing things on the outside?

We don’t pick at our neck feathers, of course, but we change our hair style, buy new clothes and make an appointment for the massage therapist. We get a tan to make our skin darker, orthodontic work to make our teeth whiter and colored contacts to make our eyes brighter. Then we get the hair on our heads to grow thicker while we permanently remove it everywhere else. Eventually, we can make our belly smaller, our chest bigger and our face tighter.

Feel better now?

While we’re on the subject, one of the most infamous of all plastic surgery exhibits, Michael Jackson, died just the week before the writing of these words. Igor and Michael – what further proof do we need that changing the outside doesn’t heal the inside?

[If this post related to you like a “best friend of truth,” you need to know something. God has more to tell you! This is an excerpt of the 2nd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three critical life lessons for relational success; lessons best learned BEFORE you fall in love.  Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]

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[originally published: Nov 23, 2012]

Categories: 3 Critical Life Lessons, Beyond Sex and Salvation, Learn to Discern