We built a new coop for our chickens this past weekend. It has a wooden door where we can come and go without having to step over a sagging fence. Our plan is to add electric wire to the top so our chickens won’t fly out and predators won’t get in. Some of the birds, however, have still been able to fly over the new fence. I went out to give the chickens scraps from our kitchen and to my surprise, the hens that had flown over the fence could not find their way back in, even with the door wide open. They had been used to either flying over the mobile fence or crawling under it when it was lifted up for them. But now that we have a door and a more permanent fence, they can’t seem to figure out how to use the new entrance. You would think it would be so obvious, but the brain of a chicken apparently is not as intelligent as a dog brain and even further from the capacity of a human brain.
Jase, our lab, on the other hand, is incredibly clever. He sees a door left accidentally open and dashes out into the yard to find things that can only be found with the nose and intellect of a dog.
As I was thinking about these things, it occurred to me that often times I expect things from my children or my husband that are beyond their capability or understanding. I’ve heard messages on expectations in marriage seminars and in parenting books, but still, I’ve forgotten that not all minds work the same. I can’t expect my 4-year-old to respond the same way as my 6-year-old. Nor can I expect my husband to understand why falling behind on house chores chokes our intimacy. Our minds just work differently.
I think sometimes we can easily jump to conclusions that our kids are being defiant or that our spouse doesn’t love us when in reality, they physically and mentally can’t think the way we do. When my children were younger my mom often had to remind me that just because my child doesn’t immediately obey does not mean they are being disobedient. The truth is, they were still learning English.
It takes time to learn English. It takes time to understand the way of a woman. It takes time to figure out how to use a door if you’re used to crawling under a fence.
Maybe if we all lowered our expectations, gave each other the benefit of the doubt, and showed a little more grace, our loved ones might experience the freedom to fail and try again and perhaps we might radiate Jesus just a little more.

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