I finally am ready to write, but this is difficult.
Our chickens died this week. I wish I could say "of natural causes" or that we ate them for dinner. But, no, we forgot to give them water, didn't let them out of their yard, and they dehydrated in extreme heat... as I enjoyed the air conditioning inside my house only 20 feet away. We feel awful. I cried all night.
We have had chickens for a little over a year now. At first, I helped out, but slowly my husband ended up with most of the duties. I have hibernated indoors for the summer with a reading course to finish, a baby, and a toddler. And my husband worked full-time in the heat. All of this made a recipe for disaster the morning our routine was disrupted because of a dentist appointment. I keep replaying it in my mind, but no amount of regret can bring them back.
"They're just chickens," I keep telling myself. But we kind of got used to them, their clucking, the way they tried to sneak onto the deck, the way they ate our garden produce and kitchen scraps... We will miss them. As my sister said, "They were a weird part of your little family."
One part of the loss is the death of our urban farming dream. We had such high hopes when we began, two children ago. But the truth is, we aren't farmers. We work full-time jobs and have two babies. We have worship practice on the weekends. We have no idea how to cope with extreme heat advisories month after month without air conditioning, which is isn't helping our garden.
When I really examine my heart, however, I find that the greatest death is my pride and sense of achievement. I mean, we really let those poor chickens down. They were depending on us to protect them. They were God's creatures.
And also, I realized my own little "attitudes" that I had about "having chickens." I sort of felt a little smug, as if we were really hip, organic, edgy. It created an image for me. Wannabe hipster. Pathetic.
So I am repenting. For animal abuse, for arrogance, for over-committing myself and my little family.
And this made me think about other ways I have been arrogant, how I have portrayed an "image" that is really more show than action. Like how I feel so good about myself for living in "the city." In reality, I don't have one black, Hispanic, or Vietnamese friend who lives by me, even though these racial groups make up the majority of my zip code. Most of my friends in this area are white people who either go to my church in South County or are people I know from that church. Not that there is anything wrong with South County or white people, but to hear me talk about it, you would think that I was somehow "better" because I lived in a "diverse" neighborhood. My circle of friends is actually almost all white people, which is no different than if I lived in South County.
All my hypocrisy is complicated, not entirely consistent, and potentially riddled with good intentions. But the end result is that I am repenting. Repenting for judging people, including myself, for where they choose to live. Repenting for segregating myself and not making friends with people who don't look like me that I live around. Repenting for not bringing my message in love to those in my sphere of influence.
I feel convicted by the words that God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah,
"Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“ If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesperson..."