Why should we smile through our trials?

Our son Nick sent us something that he has learned while in Peru. I’ve had a hard time getting it out of my mind.

Apparently there is a certain type of eagle that will generally live about 30 years. I don’t know if eagles more closely match dog years or human years, but I would think that as far as birds go, that is probably a pretty good run.eagles2

However, if the eagle somehow breaks its beak and claws off, it will grow new ones and live another 30 years.


My first thought was how could the eagles communicate with each other to snap off those appendages at year 29.75.

I don’t know the answer to that. I can’t imagine that there is a little spot behind the water cooler at Eagle Central where the secret is passed on from one to another.

So is it just dumb luck?

Think about which eagles would fall into that category. There would be the ultra-brave and courageous who have these things broken in battle.

Or would that just be the mean ones who like to attack the others?eagles

And what about the crazy, devil-may-care dive bombers who run into trees and rocks after attempting a supersonic plunge?

On the surface, to me, it seemed that the reward was for the reckless and selfish rather than the good old eagle that watched over and cared for his family.

Trusting as I do in the eternal order of things and the capability of a God who knows when I stub my toe, I don’t worry about it. I know in the universe of eagles that it will work out perfectly for each bird.

I think what is important is the lesson to be learned. An eagle that will willingly break these body parts that are crucial for its survival, and go through such pain by its own choice, becomes renewed.

Enough about birds. Let’s talk about humans.

Let’s say that someone pulled us aside and whispered in our ear “hey, this is a secret, but if you break your neck and legs in multiple places, you’ll get another 75 years.”secret

Surely we would wonder if there was more than water in that company cooler in the corner of the office.

After all, we need those legs to get around. We also need that neck to work, for many obvious reasons.

So, a great number of us will choose to walk away from the coworker, or friend, or family member, saying “I’ll keep my legs and neck, thank you very much. With these I can make it on my own anyway.”

But doing that will pretty much ensure we stay at the first level available to us.

We can’t believe that there may actually be another level ready out there.

A better level.

Ahh. Nonsense.

That’s ridiculous to think breaking body parts could ever be a good thing.


Well of course not.

But most of us already know that.

At least academically. In theory. We’ve seen it happen in others.hammer1

It’s another issue entirely when we see the hammer coming at us at, literally, breakneck speeds. Isn’t our first (and second and third) instinct to duck and hide?

And then we wipe our foreheads with a big old “Phew” and head off to the water cooler with a great story on Monday morning, usually ending with “how lucky was that?”

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m NOT advocating we go out looking for hammers that are in another trajectory.

But I wonder if it isn’t worth thinking about that, rather than duck and hide, we stand tall and brace ourselves.

I learned years ago that the only way for me to not hit my breaking point, is that I need to already be broken.hammer2

Broken by choice.

Not by dumb luck.

Because when we choose to face head on, and learn from, and be strengthened by, those meteoric hammers that seem to be everywhere these days, and allow a few bones to be broken, then we are healed.

Healed by Heaven.

And, let me say, that next level is pretty amazing.eagles5

As is the next, and the next.

In this season of gratitude I would be a huge liar to say that I am grateful for my broken bones.

But, I can say with full confidence that I am eternally grateful for who I am becoming as a result of my trials.

It changes us from someone simply enduring to the end and hoping for the prize, to someone who tastes the prize every day along the journey.facingthesun

And then we can’t help but smile.


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