From now on if someone calls me “chicken,” I'll take that as a huge compliment.
For any person – especially a male – being called chicken is a searing insult. But not for me. Not anymore.
Not after what I witnessed. Here’s the back story.
It was a summer afternoon on my vacation in Kauai. I was on the patio feeding a mother hen and her five baby chicks bits of wheat bread. They run wild on the Hawaiian island and are protected by state law.
I got to the place where the baby chicks eagerly ate out of my hand.
Then I fed a chunk to Mama Hen and she dropped it on the ground. Immediately one of the chicks snatched it and ran off. I thought Mama Hen had a strange medical condition and couldn’t hold onto her food.
But repeatedly she would take the bread bits from my hand and then drop them for the chicks. I know chickens are always hungry or ready to eat. But not Mama Hen.
She fed the chicks first.
But then – Papa Rooster marched on over. He was puffing his colorful chest and crowing. I was betting he would eat his share first.
I guess I was projecting my own selfishness. He, too, picked up the bread bit and then dropped it for the chicks.
I was humbled. Taking care of the hungry scrambling little ones came first. For both of them.
Nature’s lesson created a sinking feeling in my stomach. I preach teamwork for couples. I also preach restricting the “me first” attitude that is lethal in marriages. And I instinctively and harshly judged both Mama Hen and Papa Rooster.
If they would have tolerated it, I would’ve hugged the whole brood.
In that moment, enjoying life on a patio in Hawaii, I witnessed a lesson of giving when it is not convenient or easy. Putting food in your mouth and then giving it away even if you are hungry.
Call me a chicken now, and I will conjure up a scene of generous giving – and aspire to do better when it is not easy.