I am a huge animal lover.  My son and I enjoy cuddling up and watching National Geographic or PBS.  There are so many things that amaze me about animal instincts, behavior and even how their appearance helps them to survive in whatever environment they are native too.

I recently learned about the Cowbird.  This bird got its name because it travels with herds of cattle.  You may find it difficult to acknowledge the intellect of a small bird, but you may be about to change your mind.

The Cowbird is lazy but very smart.  It does not build its own nests.  Instead the Cowbird spends time observing the other birds in the area.  They stake out the nest and while it is unoccupied they make their move.  Cowbirds will either knock all the other birds’ eggs out of the nest or lay their own eggs and hide them among the eggs already there.    After laying the eggs, the Cowbird abandons the nest and moves on as the cattle do.

When the nest owner comes back, they continue with the process of bringing new life into the world.  The little mom and dad are left to nurture something that is not their own and they don’t even know it.

I really had to sit and digest that for awhile.  If we look at this scenario from a spiritual perspective there is a lot to think about.

1.      Someone is always watching you.

Unfortunately, not everyone in your life has your best interest at heart.  There are many times red flags are waving and sirens are blaring, but we miss these warnings.  We all need to ask God to help us know when we have unhealthy relationships in our lives and how He would want us to handle them.

2.     Protect your gifts

God has blessed each of us with gifts.  You may be an encourager, good with finances, musical, fitness instructor, dancer, minister, etc.  The least we can do is protect the treasures God has placed in us.  This doesn’t mean we horde them to ourselves, but it certainly means we nurture them, grow them and invest in them.  Take pride in whatever gift God placed in your life.  No one can do it like you can!

3.     Conflict resolution

We all have situations in our lives that have created baggage.  It is so important for us to unpack that suitcase, deal with whatever it is and move on.  Maybe your marriage ended through no fault of your own.  If you move too quickly into another relationship, you are carrying your hurt and pain with you.  You keep adding to that suitcase until it is so heavy you can barely walk through each day.  But in your head you keep thinking…I really enjoy hanging out with this guy why do I still feel so empty?  Maybe you have trust issues with men now.  This new guy is wonderful and you have no reason to not trust him, but there is always that doubt that chews on you.  How do you unload that baggage?  Spend time on yourself.  Figure out who you are, what is at your core, what you believe, what is important to you, etc.  This may require therapy, Christian counseling, and will absolutely take prayer and TIME.  Conflict could also come from childhood experiences like physical/mental abuse, molestation, etc.  If we hang onto those things the suitcase gets heavier and heavier—one day we won’t be able to carry it anymore, it then turns into bitterness.

4.     The aftermath

There is an old saying, “Bitterness is like you drinking poison and expecting it to affect the person you are upset with.”  When we hang onto things that were unjustly forced on us, we are the ones who suffer.  Anxiety, depression and stress will control us.  The person who wronged us has moved on and probably doesn’t even think about the situation anymore.  Forgiveness is an absolute must for healing and moving forward.  It certainly doesn’t mean that you forget about what happened, because honestly we are human and we don’t have a delete button in our brains.  Sometimes it is not even appropriate for you to contact the person and tell them that you forgive them.  You need to do this for yourself.

Don’t spend the rest of your life investing in raising someone else’s bird.  God promised He will not put more on us than we can bear, so be careful that you are not picking up someone else’s load.