greenhouse jungle

A Note From The Editor: On page 82 of Darling Issue No. 12, we announced a call for submissions that tell your story and spark the creative process through word. Over the next month we plan to feature several of these submissions here online. Today we’re excited to reveal our second selection. We think that it’s a piece that’ll encourage you — wherever you work — while also calling you to stand tall in a wild world.

The conference was packed. Once everyone was seated we seemed to collectively reach into our gift bags. My eyebrows knit together as my head tipped to one side, “Why a lion?”

This small, hard plastic toy was meant to be a prompt. Its fierce teeth, menacing eyes, and ready stance were a reminder. It’s a jungle out there!

That statement carried truth. My heart understood immediately. As I closed my eyes, a single tear escaped. I could “see” even with my eyes closed. We all know that roar of “you don’t measure up,” “you’re not smart enough,” “thin enough,” “pretty enough,” “you don’t have enough friends,” “you’re not skilled enough or strong enough to succeed,” and on and on. In an effort to hold that lion at bay, there is a mad rush to find significance. To post accomplishments and selfies on social media. To keep up appearances.

Yet, in reality it becomes a trap, a pastime of stalking and being stalked. It is a daily reminder of the endless ways we missed the mark. We believe the lie, we feed the lie, and the lion grows more fierce, the jungle more threatening.

I obediently placed the lion in my purse. How could this toy prompt lasting change? The speaker shared ways to respond in kindness toward others, helping them feel valued. That totally resonated with me. Yet, I sought for a way to go beyond “a kind response”. I wanted to help others recognize their God-given gifts. How could I possibly reflect back to them the brilliance and potential I was seeing?


In a flash of divine inspiration I knew the perfect (personal) prompt I could add to that toy lion. It was a MIRROR. Sometimes, we miss the obvious. You see, I am a hairstylist and my husband owns a glass/mirror company. Thus, we both work around mirrors every day.

In an attempt to silence the lion’s incessant roar, I would reflect back to others the unique gifts I was seeing in them. Every wounded, broken hearted person would benefit from a true reflection. Shining light on attributes and giving “life” to an identity they may not recognize at first. Authentically pointing out someone’s giftedness rings true in their heart. In some cases they may be seeing for the first time what was there all along.

The conference prompt really worked. Digging in my purse, searching for my keys, I’d stumble on that lion. Looking for gum, my fumbling hand found that toy again. Scavenging for loose change from the deep recesses of my handbag, I’d smile, as that lion once again was in my hand. Each time I was reminded, “It’s a jungle out there!”

I eventually found a bright fabric pouch to contain both items. A toy lion and a small make-up mirror. An odd combination but clever, useful prompts. Together they became the catalyst that significantly impacted the way I interact with people.

Even though we still walk through the jungle, we can empower others, encouraging them to ignore the roar. Then, more importantly, hold up the mirror and ask, “Do you see what I see?”

Image via Ellie Koleen


  1. Reading this is a great reminder for me to be kinder to myself. I’m very hard on myself and my road to self-acceptance has not been easy and sometimes I have setbacks. When I feel like I’m not enough, I have learned to take a step back and let it all go. I have great things to offer and others see it, so it’s time for me to believe it. From now on, I’ll be thinking of the lion as a way to let my talents roar than be swallowed up by the jungle. Thanks for this post!

  2. These simple visuals are so impactful. I love the idea that they are able to be gifted as well as used for conversation starters. It’s so true that a change starts from within. And even from our own broken standpoint we can begin to lift others. A friend recently shared with me the quote that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’ and that is the potential with these sweet words.

    xx, leslie

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