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Is Your Head at Risk?

Oct 17, 2022

What’s your answer to the familiar inquiry: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Here’s mine: “Who cares?!”

Perhaps this indifference is due to my childhood farm experience with chickens. Too many dark nights after Sunday evening church crouching in the dirt, trying to prod senseless, shivering chickens clustered under the shed to walk up the ramp to safety inside the warm coop.

You’d think going through this process every night since their orange feet could waddle might have wired enough neurons together they would scoot up the short wood plank by themselves. A few had won the fowl brain lottery and did so. Most, however, retreated to the far corner, huddling in darkness under the secure domicile with its plentiful food, water, and light.

A skunk, coyote, dog, fox, racoon, or snake could penetrate the wire or dig under it in lightning speed and settle in for a night of feasting. Although I did entertain the thought more than once it would serve the clueless cluckers right, I still reached under the building with long poles and forced the feathered critters away from their nighttime lodging choice. “Sorry. I know you like it here, and your squawking is pitiable, but you’re not safe.” Eventually, the last one would trade the bare ground of the pen for the thick straw of the chicken house, and the doors of safety were shut and locked.

Sometimes people are a lot like poultry.

It’s not that we snuggle under the bushes by the front door for the night or pounce on bugs for breakfast (unless in dire straits) or step in our drinking water with poopy feet and gurgle away. It’s that we keep returning to places of danger when the long shadows of daylight noon recede into the murkiness of twilight.

Darkness is unavoidable. Fears, concerns, doubts, and anxiety settles in. These aren’t the mental and emotional equivalent of coons, foxes, and stray dogs. This is the night which every soul encounters.

Some nights are darker than others.

A friend isn’t fully present during a conversation. Or cuts us off altogether.
A spouse is boring, inattentive, or distracted. Or cruel, manipulative, and deceitful.
A child is whiny, demanding, and uncooperative. Or diagnosed with a life-altering or ending illness.
A job is unfulfilling, dead-end, and low pay. Or the bills arrive marked “late” while the job applications are stamped “under- or over-qualified.”

When we respond by huddling in the darkness, we’re easy prey.

What to do instead?

Walk our thoughts up into the light of truth.

Refuse to let our thoughts crowd us into dark corners. 

Romans 12:2 instructs, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

By default, our thoughts will send us cowering into the darkness. We won’t be alone there. Quite the contrary. That’s where we’ll find ourselves surrounded by most of humanity.

We can even survive there. Maybe for a long time. If we missed a night putting the chickens away, there wasn’t a guarantee a predator would come that night. Perhaps there were easier pickin’s nearby. Or their bellies were full from the previous night’s meal. Or…or…or…

But some night the predator would come. Hungry and desperate and determined. The truth that the chickens had always been at risk would finally be confirmed…through death.

We, however, can keep our heads. We can choose to align our thinking with what is true.

Sometimes that means facing painful realities. A friend isn’t coming back. A spouse has lied. A child isn’t getting better. But even amid darkness, there is a dwelling place of light, warmth, and safety.

We walk our way there in our minds…one thought, followed by another, followed by another, followed by another. Sometimes the walkways are short; sometimes so long they seem to stretch into infinity. But this is the only way to safety. To transformation. To knowing what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

It’s hard walking those planks. Our chickens could mob their way into dark corners, but they had to shuffle individually to their lit shelter. So it is for us. Even when there’s someone behind or in front, encouraging or admonishing, nobody can shove our thinking in any direction. That’s all on us.

Keep your head.

Align your thinking with truth.

©Stephanie D. Smith 2022


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