“The sound was like two rocks grinding together as the bear drug his canines across my scalp.”
~ Brown Bear Attack Survivor
Wild bears are scary – period. They are not the well-kept, docile bears you find at the zoo that pace back and forth in their enclosure, waiting to be fed. In the wilds, they are incredibly spooky and unpredictable, and when they’re hungry, they kill.
Brown bears can really spoil a good day. When a brown bear is born, it weighs only about a pound, but in just six years, a male brown bear transforms from a one-pound adorable cub into a 1,500-pound killing machine. Brown bears can reach over ten feet tall – higher than a basketball rim – with claws almost four inches long. They’ve been known to smash doors right off their hinges and rip through metal siding like opening a pop can. A brown bear can smell carrion (carry-un), the flesh of a dead animal, from extreme distances; research has shown that bears can smell carrion from up to 18 miles away. Almost every year there are stories of brown bear attacks and fatalities of unsuspecting “volunteers” with whom brown bears have tried to “play.” I’ve had several encounters with them, and just thoughts of these behemoths can keep you on edge and in your cabin eating canned salmon if you let the grizzly tales get into your head.
Brown bears have a perimeter line you cannot cross, but when and where that line is can be anyone’s guess and can change from moment to moment. They may be tolerant of you at twenty feet, or get perturbed fifty yards away. I’ve seen them suddenly go ballistic on a lone seagull treading water fifteen feet away, patiently waiting for a morsel of pink sockeye to drift their way. They’re like a ticking time bomb, and you’d better hope you’re not the one who lights that fuse.
While filming brown bears on the Russian River in the summer of 2011, I had a male brown bear get a little unhappy with me. I’d been filming him for about ten minutes when he decided to draw a boundary. He came out of the water onto the shore just four yards away, and began moving me backward until he was satisfied that I was at a distance he could tolerate. The whole time I was being pushed backward, my hand was firmly gripped around my Taurus Raging Bull .44 Magnum, and I was having a one-way conversation with him: “Hey, bear! Whoa, bear!” He didn’t listen.
There are times when the attacks of others, their judgment, gossip, shaming, shunning, and opinions can get into your head and make you want run or hit them with a large can of bear pepper spray. The way to survive a bear attack isn’t trying to outrun him – ain’t gonna happen! You have to have the right weapon for the job and know how to use it. In the same way, you can’t defeat others’ judgment with judgment of your own. You can’t stare down starers in hopes they will blink first. As a matter of fact, if you have to win, you’ve already lost. You need to realize – you must truly understand – that it’s their issue! It’s their judgment. It’s their sin. They are responsible for their own actions. There is nothing I can do to fix or control how someone else acts, or what they choose to believe. My job isn’t to clean their side of the street. My job is to keep my side of the street clean. To love. To be patient. To understand they’re struggling as well – and believe me, they know they are, because sin leaves a bitter taste.
Read the following verse aloud and answer the question: “Where in my life is this verse connecting right now, and what revelations in my life is the Holy Spirit showing me through this verse?
. . . Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Romans 14:1, MSG