The Parable of the Snapping Turtle

Let me tell you of an interesting experience I had yesterday, which I will call "The Parable of the Turtle." I will then relate the story to my current situation.

As I drove home along a country road, I came upon a large turtle in the middle of the road. As I have always had a soft spot for turtles crossing roads, and would frequently stop just to help a little box turtle reach the other side safely, I elected to do the same here. I'll admit, I had never encountered a snapping turtle up close and naievely thought they were passive and calm like other turtles (Galapagod tortoises apparently are so docile that you can ride on their backs without riling them up).

As I reached down to grasp the turtle by his sides, his head popped out and he started flailing his neck, snapping his jaws and trying to get at me. I immediately understood where the animal got its namesake.

Afraid that he might reach my hands with my current approach, I got a couple of sticks from the side of the road in an attempt to push him to the other side. This didn't work, for the turtle was too heavy, and he continued to exert every every effort to reach his jaws back to bite me.

A passing driver advised that if I really wanted to help the turtle, I should grasp its tail firmly. But the snapping jaws, to me, were enough of a deterrent to keep me at a distance.

Finally, I decided it was no use, that the turtle had nothing in mind but to bite whoever came near him (he even snapped at the above driver's car when it stopped close to him). So I said, "You're on your own. Good luck. Hope you make it."

Sadly, this story has an unhappy, though not entirely unforeseen ending. As I drove along that same road last night on my way back to work, there was, in the same spot of road, a crushed and mangled turtle corpse. I shook my head, said, "I told you so," and went on my way.

As I reflected yesterday and this morning on the event, I thought of other ways I might have helped the turtle (like using a golf club for him to grab on to and dragging him to the other side...however, I wisely realized I might never get my club back in that case). From my reflections I make two comparisons.

The broader spiritual comparison is to those people who constantly resist the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost and a loving Heavenly Father. Father, I am confident, constantly tries to give each of His children gentle nudges in the right direction. However, we, like the turtle, often find ourselves resisting those nudges, for many and various reasons. Whether it be pride or guilt or a strong desire to be independent, we, like the turtle, can snap back at those same hands which would lead us and guide us and help us find the way. Eventually, there may come a point where, like me, Father decides to stop helping, because we don't want it anyway. I think, though, that He still tries to help, we just become too deaf or senseless to detect it. And when we resist, it's not uncommon to experience an unhappy consequence, like the turtle.

Now, the relation to my current situation:

First, a brief summary. I work at KRCG. KRCG has to make cuts. I was to be one of those cuts, until an evening shift cameraman job opened up. KRCG offered me the post as a way to stay employed at the station. I said no, because the pay wouldn't improve and the hours were a lot worse. So for the last few days, I've been waiting to hear the phone call saying, "Thanks for the memories, don't bother coming into work tomorrow." That call still hasn't come.

As a result of this, I have begun to seek employment elsewhere. I have an interview with KMIZ, another TV station, this morning (4/23) for an evening producer shift. It's still not the best hours, but there are other potential benefits about which I won't bother with here. Then there's the possibility that I might not get the KMIZ job, and I'll get kicked out of KRCG. In that case, it's on to something likely unrelated to journalism for a couple of years. And the implications of that situation is unsettling.

Long story short, my employment future is in a frustrating state of flux right now, and it's beginning to take its toll. It's a hard thing, not having the certainty that comes with a stable job. But as I thought about the parable yesterday, I found that I could liken myself to the turtle. Here I am, in life, and things are dandy. And sure enough, along comes a trial, trying to move me along. I snap and struggle and fight, because I like my comfort zone. But what I can't see, through all my resisting, is that I might actually be experiencing a push towards something better. Maybe Father is trying to help me move along to new things, experiences where I can learn and grow more. And here I am, snapping my jaws and wishing I could just be left alone. How can we grow if we never get pushed, or push ourselves?

So there you are. My parable, and a brief explanation of where I am at in life. I hope your day goes well, and I hope mine does too.

And if you see turtles in the road, don't be afraid to help, but just watch your fingers.

"And now...I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day." -Alma 38:5


Peeser said…
Here are a couple of thoughts that came to me as I read your turtle parable:

Consider the story of Jared and his brother and their families as recorded in the book of Ether, chapter 6:

5. And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.

8. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.

10. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

Remember that while it is the Lord and the Holy Ghost that cause the winds to blow and toss us about, those same winds ARE blowing us and moving us towards something better, our own promised land. And if our ships are also "tight like unto a dish," we will NOT be destroyed, be it whale or wave or job insecurity that threaten to break us down.

Whatever happens, I know that as you and Tamara continue faithful, the Lord will lead you to a better place that will help you stretch and grow in ways you may not even realize. You are in my prayers. Love ya, bro!
Kirsti said…
Wow. Great parable. Sad, but definitely something to learn from. It makes me think of this story I heard from the prophets about their experience with the bee in their office and when they tried helping it out the window, it just stung them, and the general authority left it alone. Next morning, it was dead on the window sill.

I wish the best of luck to you and Mrs.Varn's hubby better give you that job!
J.Ammon said…
When I was growning up we'd go to a place called Warm Springs (part of a church farming area) and swim in their fantastic warm springs (imagine that). I never saw them myself but people said there were snapping turtles (which, upon looking back, seems rather doubtful they'd let primary kids swim with them). Anyways, your story brought back memories of the fear I had that I'd lose my toes.

I'll send you the therapist bill.
emily said…
i loved it... well-written and insightful. Thanks!
I would like to thank that poor squashed dead snapping turtle for teaching you a really good lesson. I couldn't have done it better myself

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