I’m not a big Katy Perry fan. But her song “Roar” resonates with me a lot. I can relate to certain phrases of it well, and it inspires me to step out of my comfort zone, and keep ‘becoming’.
‘Roaring’ is, after all, a very descriptive expression of stepping into who you are. Join me on an imaginary African safari. For years we have been dreaming about this. We have pored over National Geographics, we have seen every Netflix show related to lions, we have read every travel guide and pinpointed the best part of Africa to see the most lions. We read reviews, and carefully booked a hotel in the middle of the African plains, and simply can’t wait to get in that jeep to see and hear the PRIDE!
The day finally comes, and we step onto that trans-Atlantic flight – knowing we will be up for a day and a half, before arriving, but too excited to sleep! When we get off the plane, a very rustic van is waiting to take us out of the city, and miles into the savanna, where our hotel is located. It’s quite the bumpy ride, but this is the trip of a lifetime, to experience our favorite wildlife – the royal and majestic lions!
Our hotel does not disappoint – with gorgeous views of the savanna, and iced tea and lemonade available on the scenic observation deck all day, we are ready to relax and do some pre-safari wildlife watching from our deck chairs. After a delicious but pricey dinner, and a beautiful sunset, we go to sleep – exhausted, but nearly at the end of this long wait – because tomorrow! Tomorrow is the day we get to observe in the wild, the amazing animals we have loved and admired since childhood.
We love the majestic way they rule the other animals just by looking their way. We love the beautiful mane that sets off that massive, intimidating head, the swishing tail that seems to bookend its commanding presence, but most of all, we love the ROAR! The roar that says “I am here! I am doing what I was created to do! I am aware of my existence in the big scheme of things, and I will not shrink back from the significant impact I am intended to have on the world around me”.
Safari day starts long before sunrise, with a full breakfast and picking up of packed lunches from the kitchen. Then we pile into the jeep – hats, sunscreen, and cameras at the ready. First we come across some elephants – those incredible creatures that shake the ground with each step they take. Talk about impacting the world? I’d say yes. In a very literal sense. We start snapping pics left and right, and switch to video as they start trumpeting the warning to the herd – strangers approaching!
As we drive on, we see the heads of a few giraffes sticking up out of the brushy tree line in the distance. Their unusual markings reminding us that we are in a place where uniqueness is treasured and differences are celebrated.
The sun is getting hot when we stop for an early lunch near an oasis that appears to be frequented by many types of animals, but they all disappeared as the Jeep came into view. We are enjoying the day exquisitely, yet starting to get a little impatient to see the animal that matters most to us – the one that puts to silence every other animal, as it steps with a mighty roar into it’s God-given role as King of the Jungle.
As we continue on, we see kudu, wildebeest, zebras and warthogs, roaming the plains as if they own them. Amazing and unforgettable, but where are the lions? Something appears to be off. Our tour guide and driver starts to become concerned as we traverse mile after mile of the grasslands with no sign of jungle royalty.
Just before the turn-around point, when we are losing hope and feeling such disappointment, we catch a glimpse of a furry mane. When we drive towards it, the lion runs behind a rock outcropping. As we get closer, we see a beautiful, large lion hiding behind the rocks, tail between it’s legs, head down, and silent. Our tour guide, who is also a wildlife veterinarian, becomes very concerned, and calls in for back-up to check the health of the grand creature, whose frightened actions are in stark contrast to the proud, courageous creature he was intended to be.
We get the unusual privilege of watching the veterinarians examine the lion, and discover that he has contracted a disease, that causes him to lose the ability to care for himself, leading to malnourishment, and without treatment, his life would be snuffed out by creatures that he ordinarily would have eaten for breakfast.
Sadness floods my heart like a stormy river. The tragedy of these beautiful majestic creatures becoming so weak and lifeless was too much to bear. And the disappointment deep, after so many years of waiting, hoping and planning to see them in all their God-given healthy glory!
As we headed back across the plains to the hotel, we drove past a sharp incline with a rocky outcropping, that overlooked miles and miles of savanna. Suddenly the air around us filled with the loudest, most majestic roar I could have ever imagined! My heart pounding with surprise and hope, I looked up, and there, staring down at us, was a young, magnificent lion, with a great, flowing mane, a taut body, and a long tail swishing in the sunset rays. Healthy. Beautiful. Majestic. Glorious. Loud. Fearlessly proclaiming that he was King of the Jungle!
Wow! When my heart stopped pounding, and the sun had set on that most incredibly royal creature – one I had dreamed my whole life of seeing – and the tears of happiness had subsided, I couldn’t help but consider the parallels between the two lions. Both were made King of the Jungle. Both were created to roar loudly, to have a large impact on the world around them. One was embracing his being and place in the world, with courage and confidence. Understanding the impact he was intended to have on the world around him. The other had been designed for the exact same purpose, but due to a disease that was overtaking it, was unable to step into his rightful place.
It made me think of us humans. We were all made to roar. Not all of us roar the same way, though. None of my friends would probably say I sound like a lion. But I do have responsibility to find my voice, and keep growing and becoming who God designed me to be. There may be physical representations of what’s on the inside, that become a part of your ‘voice’. And friends, for me it’s sparkles. Or ‘sparking joy’. So I am owning that in different ways, and practicing my roar.
What about you? Do you feel confident in your roar? Most of us probably need a little nudge to keep finding and growing into it. But don’t let the ‘disease’ of fear or depression, shame, or criticism keep you from discovering your roar, and growing into the best ‘you’ possible. If you’re struggling to find who that person is, ask someone who loves you to support your journey. Taking time for self-care, mental and spiritual nourishment is an important part of the process. Don’t leave it out. And be authentic. If you’re a bird – ‘tweet’. If you’re a seal – ‘bark’! If you’re a lion – then Roar! But by all means, find and use the voice God gave you, to enrich your world.