Birds and Broken Hearts

Through the bustle of the gathering crowd and the cheerful sound of conversation, I heard it. That tiny little voice saying one of the words I’m most familiar with: “Mama...”

I turned to find my middle baby in silent tears, shaking in fear and terribly upset. 

“What is it baby?” I immediately pulled him into a quieter hallway and knelt down in front of him. As tears streamed relentlessly down his little cheeks, he told me how just moments before he’d been outside and he’d opened the cage of a sweet friend’s pet bird and the bird had perched familiarly on his finger. But then, in an instant, the bird flew away - over the fence and out of sight. This bird, who used to have clipped wings and an inside home, was now gone - and my little animal-loving buddy was more upset than I’d ever seen him. A combination of fear of punishment, fear of what might happen to that little bird, and sadness over the whole situation had him almost inconsolable.

I took him to a quiet room, away from the crowd, to try to calm him down. I scooped him up in my lap and brushed his hair back tenderly and wiped his tears. I tried to reassure him that it would be okay but his little heart was broken. And mine was broken too. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to press rewind on the whole situation and change it so that this little bird would be safe in its cage and so my boy would be the silly, happy little fella he usually is again. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t undo anything or make anything better in that moment. There wasn’t even anything that I could say to console him. So I just sat there with him. Holding him. Several minutes passed and his tears finally dried. I reassured him that we’d do everything we could to get the bird back and make things right again. I also told him that he had done the right thing by coming and telling me what happened - that coming to me first and being honest was always the right thing to do. Because I could help him. Because I would help him. Because I was his mommy. Because I loved him. 

I wonder when we lose this. I wonder why we just stop seeing...stop remembering the kind of love that our Father has for us. I wonder why we stop going to Him when we’re sad and scared and shaking with fear. I wonder when we stopped running to Him first - the minute we’d messed up because we knew He’d be our help. In those moments with Sam, I couldn’t help but think of just how much God loves us. I was moved to tears over the broken heart of my baby. What makes me for one second think that God isn’t as moved over my own brokenness when I come to Him? Have I forgotten that His heart breaks when mine does? Why do I let shame and sinful fear keep me from coming to Him immediately? My sweet Sam, in his innocence, knew that his mama was the first and safest place for him to go. He needed help. He needed comfort. He needed peace. And he knew exactly where to go to get it. And he was right. I gave him all of those things he needed in those moments and he left that room smiling and hopeful. He’d been reminded that even in his mess-ups, I have a great, unconditional love for him. 

Friends, even in our mess-ups, our Father has a great, unconditional love for us. We all need help at times. We all need comfort and peace. And we too know exactly where to go to get it. Right to the arms of our Father. He’ll be there. He’ll scoop us up and lead us to the quiet place where we can bare our very souls. He’ll remind us of His forgiveness and love and offer us the hope only He can give. 

Psalm 34:17-18 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” 

Later that night as Sam was climbing into bed, he said, “I need to tell you something important. Earlier tonight, I prayed and asked God to help me and to help Neon (the bird) come home.” 

Sam knew what I often forget. The Lord always hears the cries of His children. And He’s always near. To broken-hearted little boys. And to their mamas too. Because He can help us. Because He will help us. Because He’s our Father. Because He loves us. 

Megan Woodham