As I was snapping pictures of our kids in front of animals and sculptures last weekend at the NC Zoo in Asheboro, I was inspired to write this blog. It wasn’t the picture in front of the mighty elephants that inspired me. It wasn’t the picture in front of the life-size animated dinosaurs(an unbelievably awesome exhibit!). It wasn’t the picture of the alligator, polar bear, dippin dots, lion, giant pretzel, chimpanzee, or $5 bottle of Dasani water. I was led to write about what is seemingly one of the most uninspiring little creatures in existence….the dung beetle. I must admit, I would have never thought twice about the little rascal if Aleck hadn’t sprinted to the dung beetle sculpture on our way to see the elephants screaming, “The duuuung beeeetle!!! I love these guys!”. I know Aleck has inherited and absorbed a curiosity and love for science from his science teaching mother, but I wanted to learn more about the beetle responsible for his excitement. I took a picture and as we walked, I asked him why he loved the dung beetle. He explained as if he was narrating a National Geographic dung beetle movie. Over the week, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the information Aleck had taught me. When that happens I know I’m supposed to write and this is what I have to share:
Dung beetles live on all continents except Antarctica and they feed on feces. Gross right? Stick with me…they are fascinating…and I won’t talk too much about eating poop…I promise. Dung beetles use their sense of smell to find dung. After they find dung, there are a few different things that can happen…and this is where the lesson is : Dung is the beetle’s food…his way of life…his everything. For purposes of this article let’s assume dung is…well…the mess we can find ourselves in…the big ball of poop we struggle through…the worst of the worst. When we catch that dung, what do we do? It depends right? Everyone is different…just like the dung beetle. Let’s take a look at what kind of dung beetle you are. There are three types of dung beetles – 1.The Tunnelers 2.The Dwellers 3.The Rollers
The tunnelers are dung beetles who bury the dung…wherever they find it. They don’t go anywhere. Sounds simple right? The dung drops…they attach…and bury. There are benefits these beetles provide by burying dung(decrease in flies…clearing of pastures…enriching the soil). But…what if a person is a tunneler? What if you just bury your mess. Still sounds simple right? Guess what…it is easy…at first. It is the worst thing you can do. You saw firsthand from me two blogs ago what happens when you simply bury your mess. It isn’t healthy…and it isn’t fun. My advice : DO NOT be a Tunneler.
These beetles don’t tunnel…they don’t roll…they just live in the poop. Like the Tunneler, they aren’t going anywhere. Do you know people who simply live in their mess? This is a horrible spot to live right? We sometimes look at these people and become frustrated, angry, unempathetic, and uncompassionate. We judge them. It is so important not to paint these people and their circumstances with a broad brush. You know how difficult this world has become. Drugs, mental illness, loss of hope, terrible tragedies, loss of spirituality, and so many other factors can play into why a person is living in a mess. Please don’t think I’m making excuses for anyone who chooses not to get help or help themselves. I do understand it is best to remove yourself from a person(s) when you or your family’s safety is at stake. I get that it isn’t always clear as to what direction to take when dealing with a dweller. But make your decisions framed by this : Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me. Then they also will answer Him saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them, saying, Assuredly, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” – Matthew 25:42-45…. How often do we see people in a mess and think to ourselves or even say out loud, “Oh that’s terrible. I wish he wasn’t going through that. I hope someone helps her. I pray someone rescues them. I’ll say a special prayer.”…as we drive, walk, or run right on by in our own “busy” lives. Well…my question is this – What if YOU ARE that someone?…What if YOU ARE the special answer to a prayer? My advice: Help a Dweller….Work your hardest to NOT be a Dweller.
The Roller…is awesome. Male beetles can pull 1,141 times their own body weight….that is the equivalent of you pulling six double-decker buses…full of people! Unlike the Tunneler and the Dweller, the Roller IS going somewhere. The Roller captures the dung, rolls it into a big ball, and gets moving. He puts his front legs on the ground and pushes the dung ball, using his back legs like a little axle. Using the moonlight, the Milky Way, and star clusters to navigate he quickly rolls the dung ball away from the dung pile. The Roller rolls the ball in a straight line…DESPITE ALL OBSTACLES. Scientists observed other beetles lingering and hanging close to the working Roller and used to believe those beetles were there to help the Roller if he hit something or lost his way. Scientists now know those beetles…are waiting to steal the ball of dung. So the Roller rolls away as quickly as possible knowing he’s about to be robbed if he doesn’t work hard to reach his destination. If the Roller gets disoriented, he stops rolling and climbs on top of the dung ball. On top he regains clarity and direction and continues the journey. Once he finds a safe soft spot he buries the ball and climbs in with the female(who attaches to the ball for a ride on the journey usually) and mates. And the cycle of life continues. Isn’t that amazing? Yes…Like my son, I love the dung beetle!!! So this is what I take from the Roller when I apply it to us: It is so important to have Purpose in our lives. It moves us. The Roller teaches us …yes…we all have a mess with us…sometimes its a big ball…sometimes a small ball…but we all have baggage…full of mess we carry. And like the beetles waiting to rob and steal, there will always be people in our lives ready to kick us when we’re down, deflate our dreams, or attempt to steal hope right out from under us. We must continue to push in a straight line…THROUGH these obstacles. Yes…we get disoriented…we get stuck in the mess…we get weighed down by the crud in our lives…so what should we do? I’ll tell you: Climb up on that poop…right to the top…climb up and clear your head…Refocus…Regain clarity…and GET BACK TO ROLLING! No person can stop you…No mess can stop you…DO NOT BURY IT…DO NOT LIVE IN IT…ROLL IT UP AND GO WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GO!