Teenagers and mangy birds--reasons to have hope

It was the mangiest bird I’ve ever seen.

Perched on my bird feeder early one morning, the poor thing looked like it had been sucked up and spit out by a vacuum cleaner. Feathers were sticking straight up on its head like a little boy’s impersonation of a great Indian chief. Tiny and sparsely feathered, its head looked disproportionate sitting atop a full-grown body. Spotted chest feathers alternated with grey down, giving it a rumpled, unkempt appearance. As it picked up a sunflower seed, it turned it around and around in its beak, finally managing to crack the hard shell and eat the seed inside.

I realized I was gazing at the adolescent link between a fledgling and a fully mature bird.

It was not pretty.

These teenaged birds reminded me of teenaged humans who have crossed my path, shared my pew, and lived in my household. 

They are gangly, awkward, and challenged.

They are also lovely.

They are beautiful to me, because they embody potential. When I look beneath their mismatched feathers and awkward body forms, I see glimpses of the beautiful adults they will one day become.

Though on some days they bear little resemblance to their more mature parents, they are storehouses of raw material with which God can work. Their willingness to embrace change and adventure embolden me to try new things, step out, and be brave. 

And though they squabble and fight over which seed looks the tastiest and which perch on the feeder is best, they also scatter seeds on the ground for other, more timid birds to share. At times they bite off more than they can handle, but they persevere and, with a little encouragement, ultimately taste success. They’re not afraid to fly, and their resiliency and bold spirit helps them overcome even the occasional miscalculated landing that sends them crashing into a windowpane. 

If you’re the parent of a teenager, take a moment to look beyond the surface. Don’t let the awkwardness of today blind you to the potential of the future. Glory in what is good, and train, model, and pray into being that which is lacking. Trust that “he who began a good work . . . will be faithful to complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

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  1. I always love your analogies in nature, Lori. They have good points and good "thought images." This is a neat post. Gail

  2. I agree with Gail - great analogy! I've had a number of these mangy birds this summer, and now I will think of your post when I see them!

    1. Esther Joy, they've certainly added a lot of humor to the steady stream of birds at our feeder this summer. Maybe we can use their appearance as a reminder to pray for the teens in our lives. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. and loving on two teenagers in our home, this post was a great reminder to me. Thank you for painting a picture of patience and trust in the Lord with this part of our children's lives. Glad you linked up this week at WJIM this week.

  4. Oh I remember feeling so akward as a teen...thank you for that reminder and for linking up-