I found her nest in the garage the other day. I was looking for something on a shelf in the garage, and found her intricately woven conglomeration of twigs, threads, leaves, feathers, and who knows what else. I wondered what in the world this nest was doing in our garage, but then realized, the window that had been broken by a fast-traveling football was probably the way in which the mother bird found her way in. The sad thing is, that when the window was fixed, one mother bird was then kept out, away from her nest, her eggs, her masterpiece.
And what a masterpiece it was! Like a neutrally-colored room with a brightly-colored accent wall, this little nest had threads of blue and red and purple all interwoven throughout the browns and grays of the natural setting. It was loose in the middle, but wound tight on the bottom so as to have a strong foundation for laying the eggs which would soon be active baby birds. It was painstakingly made and was a soft resting place for the three little eggs which lay in the center. The mother bird had worked hard physically and had finally laid her eggs, and all there was left to do was to wait.
But wait. That mother bird didn’t know that the window would be fixed. How could she have known? She had chosen this place as an excellent shelter. She had done her part to build her beautiful nest, and had laid her eggs. How could failure have come when she had done her part on every single level? I hate to think of what it must have been like for this mama bird to fly out of the garage one day, to return back to find that she could not reach her nest, her eggs, knowing all the while that her absence would cause their demise. I am almost certain that there was frantic fluttering and trying to find any angle to get into the garage, but it was a futile effort. She did what she could, but it was not enough, for there were other things outside of her control that sealed the fate of her unhatched baby birds. But still, she did what she could.
So here’s the thing. I am thinking there are a lot of “mama birds” out there who can relate on levels which far supersede the instinct which motivates a mother bird. These “mama birds” built their homes with love and sweat and tenacity. They tried to make good choices to provide for their little ones. They worked and prayed and planned and laughed and loved and had incredibly high hopes and dreams for their “baby birds.” But….but there were things that no one could have ever planned for that changed their path. Like the fixed window that kept the mother bird from being able to get to her nest, there are obstacles in life that none of us could plan for. Some are mere inconveniences to deal with and get over. Some are huge obstacles which take years and years and years of blood, sweat, and tears to overcome. Some are self-inflicted and as a result come served with regret and remorse. Some occurrences are even so tragic that they take away the very existence of our precious baby birds that we were entrusted with, that we built our worlds around.
Our community grieved such a loss today. A two-year old was critically hurt in a tragic accident. Her parents were helping some friends to move, and somehow a piece of furniture fell on her. She stayed alive for a day, but in the end, succumbed to the injuries. The frantic fluttering of this young beautiful mother’s heart probably gave way to an ache that is deeper than can ever be described with words. And that ache will remain. It just will. Joy will come, but the ache and joy will learn to walk hand in hand because loss is loss. It is a void, a deep cavern, an emptiness, a space, a vacuum to be filled. And where there is a potential to be filled, there is a risk of emptiness.
One thing that I have learned to appreciate as I’ve gotten older is that endings are often beginnings. Endings often don’t look like we would have hoped, but without them, there would often be no beginnings. The tragic ending of the precious 2 year old’s life was a beginning for other yet to be named young children on organ donor lists. How redemptive is that? Life multiplied in death. Beautiful things indeed do rise from the pieces of broken dreams. In the midst of the incredibly intense pain of letting their child go, these parents chose to rise above and see beyond their own grief to the needs of others. Their daughter’s life that had so incredibly blessed them, would now be a blessing to countless others.
Often it seems that the people who seem to be the most thankful, the most joyful, are those who have experienced deep loss in their lives. They seem to appreciate the little things, the day. They are aware of how quickly things can change, so they live in the moment, and know that the precious things in their lives are a gift and not a given. They remember, but move forward.
As I gathered up the nest and took it out of the garage, I wondered if it belonged to the same mother bird that had built a nest in the bushes next to the front porch. I had so enjoyed watching these little birds and had even written about one encounter with one of them on this blog. ( https://soletusknow.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/calm/) Even though I’ll never know the answer to that question, I think that I know that this mother bird wasn’t grounded. Failure can be a stepping stone. Failure is only failure when it stops there. If we mother birds are to teach our children to rise up and be over comers instead of being overcome, well, we need to take that lesson to heart. But sometimes that can be a difficult task.
I thought I had built my nest carefully. I prayed. I loved. I trained. I held. I laughed. I worked. I sweat, I bled, I cried. I danced, I sang, I played, I prayed. I taught. I cherished and tried to nurture the ones entrusted to me. As a mom, I have had many wonderful moments. I have so many things to be thankful for, so much laughter, so many proud moments. My life is full. But my nest at times has been in shambles and my little birds have faced their failures. I have faced my failures. And in those times when there are obstacles that seem insurmountable, there is regret over what I had or had not done. There have been times when futility screams so loudly that my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest as I try to hold on to the hope that comes never in circumstance, but only in my Jesus. Jesus knows a thing or two about life overcoming death, hope rising out of despair, faith standing firm when the earth feels like it’s shaking. I’m entrusting my weathered nest (and fluttering heart) to him.
Picture a bird flying high, rising above the grass, the trees, to the clouds. Rising above adversity is like finally coming into a clearing after being in a forest of fog. It is a gut-wrenching decision to keep pressing on, having faith, doing the ‘right thing’ when all logic and rationale says to throw in the towel. Faith can appear foolish. Sometimes there’s just no reason to hope and it looks ridiculous to keep trying. Just does. But God. But God. But God can do what I cannot. But God. But God calls me to trust in Him who I cannot see with all that I have been entrusted with what I can see. But God But God calls me to ask, seek, and knock. He calls me to surrender. All. To surrender all. Funny, in surrendering what we cherish most, we are so deeply aware of what we cherish most. Seems the gift becomes ours as we entrust our precious things, lives, loved ones to the God who cares for us.
If anyone has made it through to this point of my rambling, I applaud you. I really don’t have a message to share…only sympathies with the ‘mama birds’ out there who have put themselves out there and find that things don’t look at all the way they thought they would. Redemption is one of my favorite words. God can redeem anything. Anything. He can redeem a situation. He can redeem a lost soul. He can redeem a family, and turn things around. But there’s a shaking involved in that. There’s also a call to pray. Birds rely on instinct. But the needs of my baby birds go so much deeper than physical needs. The needs of my children, my family, myself, cannot be filled by my will or tenacity or strength. God’s power can reach what I could never touch. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes us. Prayer is key to seeing things in a different light. Prayer invites God to move in ways that I could never dream of doing.
Being a wife, a mom is messy. And hard. And incredibly awesome. It is full of expectations and hopes being fulfilled, and fears realized. It is full of proud moments and heartache. It is full of challenges and work and…hope. The little ones in our care (or those grown who have left the nest) are part of our legacy, no matter how big or small. Although life has it’s ‘defining moments’, I caution myself from letting moments define me. My nest doesn’t define me. My little birds don’t define me. My proud moments, my moments of fear, my laughter, or my hard work- these ultimately don’t define me. They can influence me and change me and cause me to respond, buy they don’t define me. As I look back with some smiles and some regret at the walk I’ve had, it seems that my battle is to just take my little nest and lay it at the cross, knowing that God has a plan for me and mine and that I am merely to walk faithfully with the things I can control, and entrust Him with the things I cannot.
So, my ‘definition’, what defines me, is not the successes or the defeats in my life, my husband’s life, or my children’s lives that give emotional highs or lows. It is not the product of a beautiful nest, but the process of building it…the walk along the way. I’m thinking that at the end of my days, it will be not those monumental moments, but the long walk along the way that impacts those I love and becomes a “legacy” of sorts. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” To walk humbly with my God, come what may. Come awards and accolades, come accidents and illness, my purpose is to walk humbly with my God. Come joys and sorrows, come drama and stillness, my purpose is to walk humbly with my God, day by day. Come what may, no matter what may come, my purpose is to walk humbly with my God and entrust my little nest to Him and His care. My hope is not in a circumstance, for these change daily. My hope is in an eternal God who knows the beginning and the end, and holds me and my little nest in His hands.
Fly on mama bird. It’s going to be okay…..
……”Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
P.S. It IS going to be okay…It’s “already alright”. It is for those in Christ. If you get a chance, check out the Yolanda Adams song “Already Alright’. Also, Danny Gokey’s “There’s Hope in Front of Me”. Encouragement for those of us mama birds going through times of unraveling nests, ruffled feathers, clipped wings.
Keep Pressing On ~
Oh, and one more thing. (I figured this post is so long that one more thing won’t matter…and it’s probably the most important “thing”!) The story of the little girl who passed away this past week? Her name was Molly Justice. Our pastor shared with us today that her parents asked the pastor to boldly share the gospel of Christ, the hope of eternal life, with the m any people at her funeral. With arms raised (in worship and surrender) the parents of this precious baby girl relinquished their control and trusted God with the circumstance they never would have chosen. But they accepted, and trusted God to move. And as a result, many folks made their way to commit their lives to Christ at the funeral service. This little girl? Not only did her parents choose to donate her organs to save the lives an unnamed number of children, but her death brought about the spiritual salvation of a number of folks at the funeral. Somehow, hope is rising out of the death of this little girl and reaching countless people. Lives are being changed. Not temporarily. Eternally. God knows what He’s doing, He’s allowing. Ours is to walk justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, trusting Him step by step by step. Blessings, Heather 2Cor4