November 10, 2011
Thursday, 3:30 p.m.
Letter #199: Tigger in a Rabbit Suit
I am a Tigger fan, with full knowledge that “fan” is an abbreviated form of the word “fanatic,” meaning “excessively enthusiastic.” But isn’t that what Tigger represents? Isn’t he the very embodiment of extreme enthusiasm? Certainly, that enthusiasm can get annoying at times, and excessive anything is not always a good thing, but Tigger often gets a pass because he means well. This usually plays out when Tigger, delighted to see his friend, Rabbit, joyfully flattens him with a shocking bounce to the chest, often destroying Rabbit’s flowerbed, vegetables, and peaceful afternoon in the process. Rabbit becomes so accustomed to Tigger’s over-enthusiastic ways, that he doesn’t like even the thought of Tigger showing up. This is too bad for both of them, because Tigger could really bring a much-needed spark to Rabbit, and the very calculating, serious-minded Rabbit could certainly benefit the perpetually spontaneous Tigger with some practical goal-setting skills.
Crazy as this may seem to many of you, I’m ever-so-gradually becoming more like Rabbit and less like Tigger. See, I like balance in my life, and in case you’ve never served time in an all-male facility or been to a Men’s Retreat or joined the Boy Scouts or had all brothers as siblings, let me be clear on this point: not always is wisdom the prevailing thought in all-male environments. In fact, prison seems to create boys out of grown men; in precious few cases, the circumstance of prison creates a man out of a boy.
But, more often than not, foolishness prevails and many just live for the next bit of “fun” they can have, never seriously considering what tomorrow may bring and whether they’ll be prepared for it or not. Thus, finding myself surrounded by so many needing purpose and direction, I become a tad Rabbit-like and gently scold the ceaseless-bouncing one, hoping to speak some sense into his life.
I’m not exactly fond of this role. I’d much rather be the recklessly abandoned Tigger, off to explore the Hundred Acre Prison, without a care in the world. Or at least not realizing it might be advisable to have a care in the world. However, I’m not so sure I have to be all Rabbit and no Tigger. After all, everyone could use wise counsel, but no one said wise counsel has to be dull, right? I can enthusiastically give solid advice and motivation; I can help someone begin to set goals and catch a vision for something bigger than they’d ever imagined before—and I can do it all with my bouncy personality.
See, God didn’t make me exactly like some sawdust-stuffed storybook characters. I’m unique—“fearfully and wonderfully made.” A personality test, aptitude profile, 20-point questionnaire, or compatibility index can’t begin to know me … the person I really am. And they can’t hope to know what I’ve been through, who God has made me to be, or what His plans are for my life. I just have to be me. I don’t have to try to fit in, or stand out; I don’t have to be liked, respected, or thought well of; I don’t have to just be heard, just be quiet, or just speak if necessary; I don’t need to be someone I’m not, but who I’m created to be. My standard of character is Christ; my attitude driven by the joy of serving and honoring my Savior.
A friend of mine just adopted an orange-striped kitten who’s quite active. He’s got beautiful green eyes and a great, fun personality. Tigger seemed to be the perfect name for him. Anticipating Tigger’s love of clawing the nice couches (this Tigger, like the one at Disneyland, does not bounce on his tail), his new family is keeping his claws neatly trimmed. Perhaps I would not have ruined so many perfectly good couches if only I’d had my claws trimmed—or maybe learning more self-control could have helped me be a better steward of the personality God’s given me. Too many Rabbits bounced, too many flowerbeds ruined, too many perfectly peaceful afternoons interrupted. This Tigger’s getting wiser in his old age, I tell you! Thank you, God, for keeping me growing, and thanks to all you Rabbits I’ve bounced, for your patience.