Lobster Lessons

Lobsters. We have much to learn from lobsters. I thank Jordan Peterson for these lobster lessons from his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Lobsters are able to grow only by shedding their shells. To grow, they have to leave some things behind and be vulnerable—even risking their lives to grow. Lobsters are also smart. In order to find safe hiding places to grow new shells or rest, they regularly scout out their terrain and get a lay of the land for the best hiding places. Often times there are limited places of shelter on the ocean floor, so lobsters regularly encounter one another while looking for their place of rest.

There are certain things lobsters do when conflict arises. They’ll dance around, like a boxer, opening and closing their claws, moving backward and forward, side to side like Mohammad Ali—fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and …dance like a lobster? Lobsters also have special jets under their eyes that spray out identifying chemicals that inform the other lobster about its size, sex, health, and mood. Usually this does the trick. If that doesn’t work, lobsters have several levels or rules of engagement that keep their interactions from escalating right away. If this doesn’t work, they’ll wrestle and try to flip each other upside down. At this point one may get hurt and on rare occasion, die in conflict.

Stick with me here—this is where it gets really interesting. Two very different things happen to the victorious lobster and the defeated lobster. The defeated lobster’s brain basically dissolves. It grows a new brain. But the new defeated lobster brain is subordinate and more simple than its previous brain. This new brain is content with no longer being king of the sea and is entirely satisfied with just being a doormat on the ocean floor.

Have you been there before? I tell you what—there have been a few times in my life where I’ve felt like I had a defeated lobster brain. When painful things happen you feel defeated and flipped over like a lobster. Your brain feels like silly putty. I felt like I lost my mojo, my confidence. And I couldn’t get out of my shell. It’s a scary place to be.

But the victorious lobster is a totally different animal. Their brain chemistry is totally different than the defeated lobster. The victorious lobster has much more serotonin in their system compared to the defeated lobster. You can tell a victorious lobster from a defeated lobster by their posture. A victorious lobster infused with serotonin walks tall. They’re confident. They don’t back down so easily when challenged. They stand firm in the face of adversity or bullying.

A defeated lobster, lacking serotonin, cringes. Their posture is scrunched up, inhibited, and droopy. They swim away at the slightest provocation. They don’t stand their ground. They seem to invite abuse. But there’s hope for all the defeated lobsters out there. When exposed to serotonin, defeated lobsters regain confidence. They stand taller. They fight longer and harder.

“Be strong and courageous,” says the Lord. It’s kind of like God injects us with spiritual serotonin. God is challenging us and charging us to stand up straight and be resolute.

To accept our responsibilities courageously. To willingly and courageously step into the chaos and trust that God will bring some order to it. And we do this together—not just alone. We are more than victorious lobsters in Christ Jesus!

Fellow lobsters, let us face with undaunted courage all God has called us to do!

Pastor John
Jots and Tittles Blog
Immanuel Presbyterian Church

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