By Nancy Virden (c)2020
When I was nine, a chicken named Peeper become my little buddy. One of twelve chicks intended for our brand new coop, Peeper was the smallest, the runt.
At first, the tiny yellow balls of fuzz were confined to hopping around in a box in our basement, warmed by a lamp. Larger chicks often bullied and held Peeper back from the food scattered on the floor of the box. I began feeding her separate from the others and she grew.
Peeper started’looking like her bulkier sisters. They were white now, and outgrowing the box. It was time to put the young hens outside. Fearing it might be difficult to any longer recognize my pet, I took a purple marker and colored a spot underneath one wing. To the coop they went.
That same evening my family left for dinner and returned at dusk. The first thing I wanted to do was check on the chickens. Jumping out of the car and rounding the corner of the house, I stopped and stared.
There was no coop. Chicken wire lay mangled near deep holes dug into the dirt. Feathers shrouded the surrounding grass. All that was left was an empty shed. A neighborhood dog had raided our coop.
Mournfully and in shock at the sight, I sat down on an old log in the deathly quiet, sick at heart.
“It’s not possible!” Springing to my feet, I searched for the sound. There was no movement among the feathers. Nothing was hiding in the tall weeds at the base of tree trunks.
“Cheep.” It seemed to be coming from inside the dark shed.
My eyes took a while to adjust to the pitch blackness. Then there, deep in the shadows, a shape. It was a brick leaning vertically against the back wall.
Flinging it aside, I see her—the lone survivor. I knew my next hope was beyond reason.
Carrying her to the fading sunlight, I held my breath while lifting one wing. The purple mark!
Nearly fifty years later, the irony is still clear. If Peeper had been bigger, she never would have fit behind that brick or escaped the menacing jaws of some old dog. Her limitation saved her, and I, in turn, was blessed with a fun pet and a great story.
Life is full of struggles. Might God have a purpose in it? Although it may seem that a history of mental illness ought to limit my effectiveness, it is the very channel through which my voice makes a difference.
I heard on the radio the following quote from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. “Do not be afraid of your weakness, for it is the stage on which God’s power and grace shine most bright.”
Eight years ago I came out from behind my brick of fear and shame to try. It remains a challenge worth accepting.
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Corinthians 5: 16-18
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!