The Bird Wouldn’t Have Survived Anyway


I was praying one morning out on the back porch, pacing back and forth. The cat came up to me and started pacing, too. She stopped and looked at me, indicating that my walking was pointless. The cat yawned and walked away.

I continued to pray. About twenty minutes later, the cat came back with a beautiful yellow bird in its mouth. “Put that bird down!” I shouted. The cat dropped the bird. I picked up the cat and put her in the house. Closing the sliding door, I walked over to the bird, hoping it was still alive. It didn’t move. “I hope you’re just pretending to be dead. Get up and fly. Here is your chance.”

I went back into the house, walking into the dining room and sitting in the window seat. I watched the bird. It wasn’t moving.

I told the kids that our cat had just killed a pretty bird. The kids ran to the window to see. They yelled, “Bad kitty!” to the cat. But I answered, “No, she isn’t bad. She was doing what she does instinctively. One of the reasons we got the cat in the first place was so that she could kill the mice.”

As I walked down the hallway, I heard the sound of the sliding door. I turned around and ran back, asking Rachel if she had let the cat out. “Yes,” she said. I ran to the dining room, looking out the bay window, and sure enough, the bird was gone.

“Sweetheart! Why did you let the cat out? I purposely put the cat inside to get her away from the bird!”

Rachel started crying. “It’s okay,” I said. “The bird was dead anyway.”

“No, it wasn’t! I saw it move!” my daughter wailed. I looked at her. She realized it was her fault that the bird was finished off.

“The bird wouldn’t have survived anyway,” I consoled her. “Birds that are hurt don’t last long.” As she was crying, I asked God what I could teach her so that her sorrow wasn’t wasted. It came to me. “Rachel, before you act, you need to think about the consequences of your actions. You often act before you think. You must learn to think before you act.” She stopped crying and thought about it.

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18 Responses to “The Bird Wouldn’t Have Survived Anyway”

  1. Melissa says:

    We can use all situations as teaching moments for our children.

    • Susan says:

      I’m glad that moment wasn’t wasted. She was 7 years old at the time, and she seemed traumatized that she was responsible for the bird’s death.

  2. Lori says:

    What a sad way to learn a valuable lesson, Susan. My son learned a lesson about spending money on things once. Thankfully, it was only a $50 lesson and not a $500 dollar lesson.

  3. Katie says:

    This is such a great lesson. Good for you, to ask God to help you teach! It is sad, and feeling pain at the loss of God’s creation is honorable. However, this lesson is sometimes never learned in life… I’m so glad she was able to ponder upon it! <3

  4. Alice Mills says:

    Thinking about the consequences of our actions is quite a process. In normal human brain development, the ability to think about long-term consequences doesn’t fully form until after the age of twenty-three. This is what makes young adulthood so precarious!

  5. Erin says:

    These tough life lessons are necessary to help facilitate in teaching the compassion that God wants us all to have.

  6. Heather Hart says:

    This reminds me of an incident from my own childhood. Sometimes we react before we realize what it will do to the emotions of others. Good reminder.

  7. Julie says:

    This is a lesson we all need to learn! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Merry says:

    I met a couple of friends for coffee this evening and we were discussing how important it is to use teachable moments like the one you shared. Great work, mama.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks! Teachable moments have a much better context to the child than teaching something that they are not currently experiencing.

  9. Mother of 3 says:

    Aw, poor thing! (Your daughter and the poor bird). Sometimes life’s lessons can be a bit harsh but hopefully she will remember this and stop and think just a bit more often.

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