Sometimes it’s really challenging to love your enemies.
You know, like birds.
The other day I was leaving God’s gift to those in need of retail therapy (I’m obviously talking about Target), and I spotted a bird creeping around near my car. First of all, I don’t like birds. Secondly, I really don’t like birds anywhere close to my car. I don’t feel the need to explain why. I figured the useless creature would fly away as I was approaching, but it didn’t appear to be thinking about its takeoff at all.
I became mildly annoyed, because I was nervous I would run it over if it didn’t move. And, even though I detest birds, I certainly don’t want to be the cause of one’s death. Especially in a Target parking lot. So, I put my bags in my car and then started trying to shoo the bird into the air. Some people started to look at me funny as I bent down chasing this bird–who insisted on hopping around on its feet to escape me rather than using the wings of flight it had been given–as I repeated, “Fly away, bird! Go to your home in the sky!”
I don’t think this bird comprehended English. He must have flown in from another country.
I got close enough to the bird that I looked into its eyes (though very briefly). While I was expecting to be looking into some demonic force (Have I mentioned how much I hate birds?), I instead saw what, to me, looked like an intense fear. I don’t think the bird was afraid of me in that moment–I think he was afraid to fly away. He didn’t look hurt or like he wasn’t capable of flying. He simply looked fearful.
As I stood up, a bird that looked like that bird’s ugly twin landed beside him. I believe they had some type of conversation in their native tongue, and then they both flew off. Together. So perhaps the pesky creature just needed someone to come alongside him and fly away with him to give him some courage. Either way, the mere presence of another bird helped him realize his wings did, indeed, function properly.
It’s kind of funny that this happened when it did, because I’m currently finishing up a book by Annie F. Downs called Let’s All Be Brave that has been encouraging me lately to live out the motto I’ve been trying to follow for the past few years: BE BOLD. There’s a quote from the book that really stood out to me: “We don’t screw up by saying yes to the wrong things; we screw up by letting all the floats in the parade pass us by and never jumping on one of them for a ride to the end.”
When I read that, it really made me think about all of the times in my life I’ve had the chance to jump on some really cool floats but passed up the opportunities out of the fear of not knowing what would happen. Or thinking I already knew what would happen and not liking the possibility. Whether it was because of fear of rejection or fear of failing or any other thing that would make me feel like I wasn’t good enough or successful enough, I simply didn’t jump.
I never told my crushes in high school or college or ever after that (well, except that one time two years ago) how I felt about them, and I’ve also never had a date or a boyfriend. I’m not saying those guys would have even felt the same way, but I’ll never know. I left a really great college, because I was afraid of the changes taking place within my major–and I think I was also afraid of the fact that I was actually truly starting to enjoy a school I had always wanted to dislike. And I ended up having a horrible college experience after leaving there. (I hate having regrets, because I know everything happens for a purpose, but to this day it is one thing I wish I had done differently in life.)
But I’m not afraid anymore.
I don’t want to be like that bird in the parking lot. I want to be able to fly without waiting for someone else to fly first. Sure, sometimes we need others to come alongside us and offer encouragement, but I don’t want that fear to be in my eyes. I’d rather be willing to use the wings I’ve been given. I want to jump on floats in parades and not worry about the fact that I have no idea where they might lead or if they’re even the right floats. I just want to trust that God knows what He’s doing and will get me to where I need to be.
Even if that means risking comfort or my heart.
I don’t live in a castle, I don’t have a prince, my carriage doesn’t pick me up each morning, I barely know what a white-picket fence looks like, I’ve never been to a ball, and animals don’t sing with me as I go about my work throughout the day. And that’s fine by me. A fairytale doesn’t have to be what we were always taught it was supposed to look like–you’re allowed to make your own and live it out how you see fit. Aside from the prince (well, not an actual prince), I don’t want any of those things, anyway. But what I do want is to know that I am being bold in all I do. To quote Hans Christian Andersen, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.”
All of the “no” answers you face in life will make that one “yes” you finally hear so much better; all of the losses will make the first win taste so much sweeter; all of the failures will make your success feel even more well-earned; all of the rainy days you face will make the ones with sunshine seem so much brighter.
So use your wings–after all, you don’t want to be like that incompetent bird in the Target parking lot.