Some weeks ago we decided to begin raising chickens. My daughter has been asking for some time to have some, so we purchased six and began raising them under a heat lamp in our mudroom. These chicks soon became part of our family, and were part of my children’s school and play. They were handled more than I’ve ever seen chickens be, and the began to show us their personalities and preferences.
A few weeks ago, one of my children forgot to bring their chicken back in from playing outside under the trampoline, and unfortunately was not seen again. We searched the better part of the night for her, but were unsuccessful until the following day when we found a small pile of feathers. It was more devastating than I thought it would be for my children, and even me. Even though I’ve been around many different kinds of animals my entire life it still hurts to see them go.
It hurt even more when just recently while they were corralled outside in a small pen that they escaped, possibly with or without being antagonized by our dogs (we don’t know how it all happened), that the remainder of our growing chicks were killed by our dogs. The sad emotions returned to the family as we found the remains of each of them, and decided to bury them in the back of our property.
After we had finished laying them to rest we took a moment to talk. I discussed the differences between us and our pets, and how animals can act much differently when they are not under the watchful eye of their masters. While we have some great dogs, they are still dogs and when left to their own devices will make different decisions.
I hope this small conversation meant something to my children, but it really hit home for me. I found myself, preaching to myself. I have been struggling lately with various different stressors in my life, and realized that what I choose to do when no one else is around is truly a marker for the person I am.
On my mission I clearly remember writing the following quote in my journal, and it has resonated with me ever since. I even take this quote back and look at some of my life before my mission, and see some great examples of both good and bad outcomes of the meaning of what President Ezra Taft Benson once said.
“Some of the greatest battles you will face will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”
Some of the most meaningful parts of our lives will be the conversations we have with ourselves. After we have counselled, after we have prayed, after we have exhausted the resources around us we then turn inward and begin a dialogue with the council that existed inside our own minds. It is in those moments that we truly discover who we are. The decisions we make when no one else is around, in my experience, are they truest markers of who we are.
I have done a bit of self inventory, repentance, and recommitment to find that version of myself that I like. The aspects of me that make me happy, and help others be happy as well.
I hope my kids heard a little of what we talked about in the pasture, but I really hope that I heard, and harkened, to the call to be a little bit better.