Who doesn't like A.A. Milne's classic tales of Winnie-the-Pooh!
I grew up reading the books, and then we read the books to our daughter as she was growing up. And then there were the cartoon movies, and the toys, and...and...and. Well, you get the idea. Bottom line...they are classics and so are the characters.
Who can forget Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Tigger (my personal fave!), and Owl. They were all so endearing -- and for our purposes here, very instructive.
This came home to me a couple of years ago when a co-worker mentioned, in an offhanded sort of way, that I was "Eeyore-ish." At the time it struck me as a little odd and I sort of brushed it off -- sort of. Frankly, it stuck with me and has caused me no small amount of introspection ever since.
Eeyore-ish? What in the world does that mean? And do I even want to be an Eeyore?
Thinking back, I realized Eeyore was the always pessimistic, sarcastic, 'got-a-cloud-over-me,' glum-bum,surely depressed, old, grey, stuffed donkey friend of Pooh's. He was predisposed to loosing his his tail and lived in a house house made of sticks, which was predisposed to falling apart and constantly needing to be rebuilt. (Would you be surprised to know it is described on the map of the Hundred Acre Wood as, "Eeyore's Gloomy Place: Rather Boggy and Sad"?) Eeyore is also known for his catchphrase, "Thanks for noticing" which he is always applying to himself. Oh, and did I mention Eeyore's favorite food is thistles?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized...I am a little Eeyore-ish, and maybe not just a little bit! And the other thing I realized is I don't want to be that way. I would rather be much more Poohish...
Winnie-the-Pooh, is endearingly naïve and admittedly slow-witted, but he is also friendly, thoughtful, steadfast and sometimes even insightful. He is genuinely kind-hearted and is always willing to be a help to his friends. Pooh is very social and is often out visiting the other animals in the wood. He is also considered to be quite the talented poet. Though humble and aware of his slowness, he is comfortable with his creativity and giftedness and often sees it as a way of entertaining and encouraging his friends...or at least getting a bit of a snack. And without a doubt he is very fond of a snack! He is unreservedly and unapologetically fond of food, especially "hunny," for which he will do almost anything!
In a word, he is joyously comfortable in his own skin -- and an ever-faithful friend to Eeyore, who basically repays him with disdain.
So, Eeyore or Pooh? Who do I want to be like? Without much unnecessary consideration, I definitely choose Pooh!
But how can an Eeyore become a Pooh?
Learn to make bouquets. How does an Eeyore become a Pooh? Start by gathering flowers of blessing into a bouquet of thanksgiving, instead of stomping them into the ground. Take the time each day to name the individual blessings that you have had throughout the day. Name them one after the other until there is a veritable bouquet that you can thank God for. Putting them all together is so important if we are going to see the amazing way God is abundantly blessing us each and every day -- even in the midst of great trial and tribulation. By carefully putting them all together we see that this bouquet is made up of all the little acts of kindness, the brief encouraging words, the opportunities to serve, the suggestions that helped us avoid harm or danger, as well as the grand deliverances and super-abounding provisions in times of need.Eeyore saw the dark clouds in every sky. Pooh was exactly the opposite. He saw the good in everything, the many little blessing that add up to opportunity and hope. Maybe it's time to learn to make bouquets!
Eat more sweets. Let's see...thorny, gnarly thistles or honey? For the Eeyores among us, this is not an easy choice because for some reason or another we feel guilty about pleasures. To us there is just something a little wrong about enjoying ourselves too much. With Pooh, his love of honey knew no bounds. And the more he ate the better he felt -- and not once was he consumed with guilt! So if Eeyores are going to become Poohs, we have to learn to enjoy ourselves and all the good that God has surrounded us with. We need to take the time to read a book, plant a flower, go for a walk, play some golf, build a chair, or whatever else gives us joy and pleasure. There is plenty of time in the day for the 'hard work' of being God's servant. The reality is that it is God "who gives us richly all things to enjoy." So we need to do some enjoying!
Get out of the house. Eeyore hunkered down in his constantly collapsing house of sticks. Pooh, on the other hand, was constantly going out and connecting with others. Sharing stories, sharing meals, sharing adventures -- he was blessed in giving and receiving the blessing of being with others, and all the opportunities that go along with that. We Eeyores need to get out of our little shack of sticks and get into relationships that help teach us how to make bouquets and enjoy the sweet things in life. We need others to help us see the rainbows in the rain clouds and the gold hidden in the gravel in our pans. We need others to show us how to serve and help and encourage. And we need others to show us how to live among friends in the light, rather than alone in the dark! So if this Eeyore is going to be a Pooh, I have to get out of my chair, open the door and walk out into that scary new world of 'authentic community!'
So to all you Eeyore-ish, Pooh want-to-be's...