It is said that an elephant never forgets, but an elephant’s memory is nothing compared to the persistence of a squirrel. When it comes to swiping food from a bird feeder, squirrels never give up.
When I first hung a feeder in my back yard, I was unaware of the lengths these little looters would resort to in order to stuff their cheeks with seeds. Then I discovered the front of the feeder had been torn off by an ingenious squirrel who decided to make it more efficient—at least by squirrel standards.
Not wanting to risk another mangled feeder, I chose a new one that claimed to be squirrel-proof. When a squirrel climbed onto the perch, its weight caused the port to close. This worked until the nimble critters figured out they could hang by their toes from the roof and pick seeds to their heart’s content.
I hung a suet feeder and watched the squirrels haul it up to their branch hand over hand. I tried a window feeder which they reached with a flying leap. Shimmying up a tall pole to a platform feeder was a picnic—literally.
Finally, I discovered a squirrel baffle. Shaped like an Asian conical hat, it hangs just above the feeder. When squirrels jump onto it, they slide right off. (My feeder isn’t high enough to cause injuries from a fall.)
Now I have a simple feeder, not touted as squirrel-proof in any way, with a baffle strung a bit above the roof. It does, indeed, baffle the squirrels. They gaze up at the feeder from the ground. They scurry up the tree and peer down. They cling to the tree trunk with their feet and stretch their hands toward the feeder as if the force of their tiny wills might bring it within reach.
But they will not stop trying to nick the seeds.
And their persistence pays off. Though the baffle has been largely successful at keeping them out, it is not foolproof. From time to time the baffle shifts so that it dumps the squirrels on top of the feeder instead of onto the ground.
Constant vigilance is needed to prevent their plundering.
Satan is as relentless as a squirrel, except instead of stealing seeds, he steals joy.
He wants us to be offended, critical, angry. To hold onto grudges. To say the words we know will hurt. Take one small step away from our Savior. And then another, because he knows that being separated from God leads to misery.
And misery is his end goal.
“For he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27).
When it comes to robbing us of our happiness, he will never give up.
The good news is that we can block Satan’s attempts to pilfer our cheer.
President Russell M. Nelson tells us, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” October 2016 General Conference).
Where is our focus?
President Nelson adds:
“[Jesus Christ] is the source of all joy. . .”
“He. . . offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. . .
“How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by ‘looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’ ‘in every thought.’ We can give thanks for Him in our prayers and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase.
“Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives.”
We focus on joy when we take steps toward our Savior. When we let go of resentment, bitterness, and frustration. When we forgive. When we speak words meant to heal, reach out in compassion, and fill our hearts with love. When we look for and find God’s tender mercies.
Focusing on joy does not mean we won’t have trials. Afflictions are part of this life. But with our focus in the right place, we can have joy even amid those trials.
We will always have blessings too. We often experience both hardship and boon all in the same day. Which one we choose to focus on determines our level of happiness. Focusing on joy—the Source Of All Joy—strings up a baffle that shields us from despair.
Since none of us is perfect, from time to time that baffle will shift.
One of my favorite scripture stories is when Peter walked on the water. Afloat in a vessel tossed with waves amid boisterous winds, Peter asked Jesus, “Bid me come unto thee on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Then he stepped out of the boat and a miracle happened. But when his focus shifted from the Savior to the tumult surrounding him, he began to sink. Realizing his mistake, Peter immediately returned his focus to the One with power to save him. “He cried, saying, Lord, save me.
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (Matthew 14:30-31).
When we feel like we’re sinking, when it seems that our joy is slipping away, or that we’ve been robbed of it completely, our focus needs readjusting. Our baffle has slipped.
Like Peter, we can immediately turn our attention back to the One with power to save, the Source Of All Joy.
Satan will never stop trying to steal our happiness, but we don’t need to sink into his misery.
When we choose to focus on joy, we will find it—whatever our circumstance.
Cami lives in Idaho with her husband, various family members who come and go, and an energetic Siberian husky. She volunteers as a costume director/seamstress for the drama department at her local high school where she gets to make elaborate clothing most people don’t wear in real life—which is what makes it so fun. She enjoys reading, bird watching, gardening, and Zumba, but her greatest joy comes from being with her family.