The Bible tells of a parable where a shepherd leaves the 90 and 9 and looks for the one lone sheep who has gone astray. We know that this is an allegory for what Jesus does for each of us when we are the lone sheep wandering astray, but perhaps it also means what
we do as parents what I do as a mother.
My fold has just 4 sheep. They sometimes wander, a few have gotten lost a time or two and one has strayed so far I often wonder if I’m ever gonna be able to lead my lone sheep back to pasture. It’s trying on good days, but on bad days it’s beyond bad. There are so many conflicting emotions in my head and heart every minute of every hour of every day. I love this lone sheep and that love keeps me plugged in and fighting. For, with and against my lone sheep if need be to make sure that this sheep is safe and warm and loved and happy and successful and fed physically AND spiritually. Lately it seems like the battle is against my precious lamb.
It’s been my experience that often we are our own worst enemies and this certainly holds true in my situation. How do I save my lamb from themselves? It doesn’t matter how many times I say:
NO! No don’t go that way the flocks is over here.
NO! No don’t go down that path it’s too rough.
NO! No don’t climb that mountain it’s dangerous.
NO! No don’t wander away, you’ll get lost.
NO! No don’t I haven’t left you I’m here I promise.
NO! No don’t leave there’s strength in numbers.
NO! No trust me I’ve been down this road before.
NO! No be careful some “sheep” are wolves in wait.
It doesn’t matter if these are things I literally say or figuratively say. No matter what I do, my lost sheep still manages to find their way into a mess they can’t easily get out of. My little lamb frequently wanders down the path alone, away from the rest of the flock and locks antlers with any who dare approach. It’s an exhausting battle. How do you help someone who doesn’t seem genuinely invested in helping themselves? How do you help someone who is compliant not because they find any intrinsic value in being so, but solely because they fear the consequences of insubordination more?
Sheep need carbs, protein, minerals, salt, calcium, phosphorous, fiber and water. Protein doesn’t come from grain though so how do you keep a sheep healthy when the only thing they want to eat is straw? And then what about when the sheep forgets they are still a lamb and tries to buck up like a ram effectively holding the shepherd hostage in the pasture?!?!? Just like a shepherd tends to both the flock and the individual sheep that make it up, I too much do the same. This grows increasingly more difficult as I find myself often doing without or going without the things I need to refuel my energy reserves be they spiritual or physical or both. How can I tend my flock when I can’t even make the time or get a moment’s peace to look after me?
They aren’t big enough that they can tend themselves all the time without me and yet the lost sheep consumes so much time, energy and effort that there isn’t enough left to adequately look after the others. Despite being as stubborn as an ox sometimes, my lost sheep won’t fare any better alone that real sheep do. Sheep need the security of a flock like people need the security of a family. When sheep are alone it’s almost always because they are sick. Being alone produces anxiety in sheep because they are born herders.
Sheep are usually tender, docile, playful animals. They love to play and climb and explore (which is also why they often get lost), they love to be active. Typically only rams are aggressive…especially during mating season. Experts tell you never trust a ram even if you hand raised it from a baby. What then do I do to coax my precious lost sheep out of the ram’s body it inhabits most often? Is it my job to coax the lamb out, or just keep the ram from hurting themselves or someone else? I don’t know…I really just don’t at all know.
I see this lost one as a lamb, but often they present as a ram. If rams aren’t to be trusted ever no matter what, can the same be said for people who behave like rams? People who butt heads with everyone around them constantly, people who are mean and aggressive, people who others tend to steer clear of, people who, when they’ve nothing else or no one else to butt against , go out of their way to butt against themselves? What am I to do with this? If I shut the ram out and leave it to fend for itself, the lamb inside grows anxious and wary. If though I try to ignore the ram and appeal to the lamb, it’s often a losing battle that escalates into something bigger and uglier than it ever needs to be or ever should have gotten. The horns on the ram I butt heads with daily hurt—severe.
How do I brave the ram for the sake of the lamb?
I don’t honestly know. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next minute of the next hour of the next day sometimes. I can’t see into tomorrow because I can’t see past tonight. Thoughts consume my mind like how can we get everyone in bed for the night with no drama? How can we avoid having the police being called…again? How do I show love to the lamb when the ram is present and butting heads? How do I prevent my other sheep from learning the bad habits of the lost one? How do I keep myself fit enough to do all that is required of me to tend this flock? I sincerely have no idea…do you?