We have a noisy new neighbor. No, it’s not the guys who joined our Wii party (see my post on the topic). I’ve never met my neighbor, but in my mind, he stands about 1 foot tall and has a beak shaped like a megaphone. I’m uncertain about what specific breed of bird it is, but it’s whatever type that likes to aggravate writers. Maybe it’s a raven (nevermore!).
Ever since our neighbor moved in, Dan and I have been discussing ways to get rid of the noise pollution in our formerly quiet apartment complex. Dan wants to invest in a BB gun. I’ve been fantasizing about different recipes for cooking a tropical bird.
There’s nothing like sitting down to write and hearing a cacophony of high pitched squawks, aimed directly at one’s ear drums. I fume for awhile, imagine the bird’s untimely demise, and get back to what I have been writing, only to get interrupted a few minutes later by more “fowl” noise (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Have you ever had someone squawking at you, someone whose beak you’d like to tape closed for awhile? As with the bird, my typical reaction to these kind of people is to get quickly frustrated and fume and vent about the how inconsiderate they are. I never stop to consider ways that I might be the solution to the problem. Instead, like to focus on how to fix the other person (or in this case, animal).
I talked to my apartment complex managers a couple times to complain about the bird noise. That didn’t get me very far. They failed to understand how it’s an evil, rabid bird with malevolent inclinations, bent on my destruction.
I decided that I needed backup, to get some other neighbors on my side. I called Valerie, my Jesus loving neighbor who was sure to help me out. She’d heard the bird, and it hadn’t bothered her as much. In her sweet, grandmotherly way, Valerie told me how she handles annoying noises. She prays that God will help her tolerate them, so she won’t notice them anymore or let them interfere with her life.
Valerie caught me off guard. I was hoping she’d run to my aid to launch a full frontal assault on the bird. Instead, she directed me to work on my own heart.
I didn’t exactly like that response. The bird was the one making the noise. The bird should suffer. I shouldn’t have to submit. I’m bigger. I went to school longer. I have opposable thumbs.
But Valerie was right. God used Valerie to show me how he is sanctifying me through this beaked nuisance.
Sanctification. It’s what comes after salvation and just before glorification. God sanctifies us during our stretch of time on this earth. While we’re waiting to see Jesus again, he’s making us more like himself. In the process of sanctification, the Holy Spirit works in us towards holiness and Christlikeness. For me, I needed to recognize that God sent this annoying little bird to help me learn a little about patience and priorities.
You see, I think I focused on the wrong neighbor. Along with the evil little bird, a whole family moved in. I was so busy bemoaning my discomfort that I didn’t take the time to welcome them and get to know some new people in my neighborhood. That’s the real tragedy in the whole affair.
These days, I’m noticing the bird less and less. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally figured out how to focus on the right things, or God could have answered my prayers by silencing the winged menace for good. Either way, I’m not complaining.
Sanctification isn’t always fun. But its reward, a closer walk with my Savior, is worth a little bird noise now and again. As Paul says, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).