Monday, September 16, 2013

Lesson from the...Birds (This Time)

On one side of our living room, two parakeets live in a spacious cage. They have two food dishes, two water containers, numerous perches, and a couple of toys. Despite all this, they bicker--often. And when one is eating, the other will sometimes knock her out of the way to get the food, even though more is available a foot-and-a-half across the cage. They follow one another, often arguing or complaining. Whatever one has, the other wants.

On the other side of our living room, two Zebra finches (that we didn't anticipate buying after getting the parakeets, but someone had to rescue the poor things) live in a cage that, for them, has enough room, but one that I wish had more space. There is one food dish, one water bowl, one perch, one swing, and one nest. When one eats, the other either waits patiently until he or she is finished, or they stand and eat side by side. The same goes with the water. They're kind to one another, watch out for one another, play well, and when evening draws near, they cuddle up together in the nest. They never look across the room and complain that the birds in the big cage have more.

Too often, we think we're finches when we're actually parakeets. When someone has something, we think we have the right to have it as well. When someone challenges us, we defend ourselves with biting words, though for Christians, the Lord instructs us to turn the other cheek. We're not content in our situations, and we pray for that which we think will make us happy. When that prayer isn't answered to our satisfaction and our own efforts fail, it frustrates us. I'm guilty of that right now. Recognizing that inspired this post. If I'm not careful, that frustration will lead to bitterness.

There is nothing wrong with setting one's sights on a goal or wanting more, unless that want consumes us or leads us to despise others. When that happens, we need to stop and reevaluate our priorities. The greatest commandments are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Sinful creatures that we are, it's difficult, but it's a lesson we can learn from something as tiny as a Zebra finch.

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