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Your Own Personal Yardstick

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:13-14

With 169 species currently, I am at the low end of the top 100 eBirders in Maine for 2024. I could work my way up the list with half a year left, but not only is that unlikely since the northbound migrants I missed this spring will be even harder to find on their way south, but the current best total of 265 is 24 more species than I’ve seen in Maine, ever! One of the joys of the birding game is that there are so many ways to play. So I’ve set my sights on a smaller geography. My list of 147 species is currently good for third best in Kennebec county this year. While there are only a very small handful of recent sightings that I could chase to increase my total, they are reasonably likely, which provides motivation, and more importantly, fun. To go from disappointment and frustration to expectation and hope required nothing more than right-sizing my goals.

As a parent of multiple children, one critical lesson learned early on was not to measure each child on the same scale. Set the bar too high and you assure defeat, and too often a defeated and broken spirit. Choosing the proper yardstick for the particular child provides the opportunity to celebrate realistic and achievable goals. More carrot, less stick, as it were.

The idea that on the day you were born, God looked down and thought, “the world doesn’t have one of you yet, so here you go world, enjoy!” is a marvelous way to grasp the depth and power of divine love. I believe that this means that when you fail to live up to the expectations of being the wonderfully unique creature you were designed to be that there is an endless supply of grace to encourage and support you in measuring up to your very own personal yardstick.

And why wouldn’t that be true? After decades of hard-core, serious birding, I’ve yet to see 5% of all the species in the world. Does the world really need over ten thousand species of birds? The creator seems to think so. If the world needs all those unique species to be the complete wonder that it is, then surely you being your best you is one more vital piece of that exquisite tapestry.

Prayer: Holy One, right-size my self-assessment with the power of your grace that loves me into growth. Amen.


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