Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lessons from a Hermit Crab

We have an incredible fish tank. It sits in Hubby’s home office/ all-purpose room. We have salt water creatures full of color and life. It has been so fun to watch these sea animals with my children. The other night, I watched the hermit crabs.

They are pretty amazing little creatures. They enter the tank in a small shell that doesn’t match the rest of the tank. The crab moves about the tank, acclimating to its new environment. Eventually, the shell begins to blend into its surroundings and unless the crab is moving, it is hard to see at a casual glance.

These critters climb. Everywhere. The kids and I were having so much fun watching them climb the rocks, nearly upside down. If one crab got in another’s way, the first would just climb right over his friend. It is very fascinating to watch.

But the most interesting part to me is the crabs themselves. Even though the name Hermit Crab implies they like to be left alone, these little guys are actually quite social. Happier when they are with other hermit crab (thanks, Google!) They lead individual lives but rely on others company for optimum happiness.

They waddle around the tank, happy in their own shell. Sending crabby little greetings to their crabby little friends. Living their own happy little crabby life – until… suddenly they flip over. Upside down like a cockroach on its back.

And there they sit.

One little crab was so interesting; I wish I had a photo. He just sat there, upside down in his shell, with his little arms folded (or so it appeared). Just waiting. Eventually, one of his little buddies would crawl on by and his feet and antennae would go nuts trying to catch on to his buddy.

But his buddy had places to be, things to do, crustaceans to see.

And so the crab would sit. Then try to turn over until he tired out. Then he would sit again. And wait. Until he had strength to try again.

We sat there watching several of these topsy turvey crabs. Rooting for them to pull themselves over. Rooting for another crab to come give his buddy a push. We must have watched for a good ½ hour.

Then, like the Good Samaritan, one crab scrambled directly up to his buddy. As if he was on a mission. He worked his way behind him and gave him just enough of a nudge so the stranded crab could catch hold of his friends shell.

And boy did he clutch on.

It was only a matter of seconds until the crab had righted himself and they were both on their happy little way.

I was so happy for our little hermit crab. I was happy his friend came to help him. Happy he was back on his feet.

Then I looked at my other little hermit crabs. Desperately trying to turn themselves over. Oh, they will get there someday. They will get back on their feet. That is nature’s way. But oh, how I felt for those upside down crabs. How I wished that they had a little crabby friend to come help them back on their feet.

But, maybe our upside down friends need to learn how to right themselves with only the talents God gave them. Maybe it isn’t time for a friend to come to the rescue. And then again, maybe that is all he needs, is just his friend to come help him back on his feet.

So, if life were a fish tank, and you were a hermit crab, where would you be?


Diane said...

Hummm, I definitely don't think I'm the guy with all his friends passing him by. I have had wonderful friends come along side me and help me along the way. (Just like you, K!) Whether I'm being left to learn seems to be up in the air at the moment. I'm leaning very much toward this position. Not left in the sense I feel deserted, but left in the sense I feel I have so much yet to learn where I'm at before I would be useful farther along. Yep, that's definitely where I see myself. Thanks! That is actually quite a revelation to me!

Warm hugs.......


Deb said...

Great post. I would have reached in and intervened for sure. Probably not the right thing to do, as crabs need to sometimes "go it alone" or perhaps get a nudge from a friend. How often does God sit back and watch us...cheering us on to make the right decision? This post says so much more than just the fact that hermit crabs sometimes get stuck upside down!

That Girl in Brazil said...

What an amazing analogy. My brother has a SWEET fish tank - maybe I should tell him to get some hermit crabs.

And right now in life's fish tank, I think I'm in the "helping my buddy turn back over" position.

But I've been upside down plenty of times!

Anonymous said...

LOVED this!!!!!

thanks for sharing!@

Erin said...

Funny, I used to think about these same things with an awesome fish tank...
I have found myself upside down and needing to flip myself. I have had amazing friends jump in and flip me over, and I have laid upside down waiting and praying and knowing/hoping a current would come along to give me that little extra push. Sometimes thinking I would never get righted. I think all experiences are wonderful and am thankful for the realizations that we are not left to kick and flail hopelessly.
Love the hermit crabs. And the emerald crabs. And the fish...oh man I love all of it!!

Fiauna said...

Well, I hope I would be the good Samaritan crab that came to the rescue. Right now, though, I feel like the happy little hermit crab just living a happy little crabby life. said...

first of all, totally fascinating. I am in awe that something like a hermit crab would understand to go help his friend. Awesome.

Second of all, this is totally wise and so insightful. I love it.

I think I need to use this ananlogy in a talk or lesson or something.

Rhonda said...

We "crab-sat" our neighbors hermit crabs two summers ago. Poor little things died on us! So, if life were a fish tank, and we were a hermit crab... where would we be?


Jill said...

I've been both. I've been the independent resourceful crab who righted herself and went on her merry way.

I've also spent a LOT of time lately being the helpless crab, unable to change direction without some shoving from another. If I had to pick, it would be the second one. But only for right now! Maybe my fellow crabs will teach me the life skills I need to flip over by myself next time.

And in closing, please take this completely out of context,