I learned a lesson from a flock of Pink Flamingos that I can not shake. Really. It has been parked here in my heart and mind and I thought if it was a good lesson for me, maybe it will be something to help you as well.
Not that long ago, I went on a field trip.
When your kids are young you go on ALL KINDS of field trips. All the time. And your kids WANT you to go on the field trip. But when they get older, field trips happen less and less and I imagine they will soon end all together and then my friends and I will go out on “outings” so we won’t be sad we are missing school field trips. Although it will take a while for us to miss them with nostalgia.
One of the boys was going on a field trip to the zoo for science class. So many kids in our tiny little school were going on the field trip that they needed two full school busses. And while I could drive myself there, I had had a terrible experience once where I had gotten HOURS lost from a field trip and so I always always always ask to ride the bus.
I was the mom who was the very last one to arrive.
Never you mind I am also probably the mom who lives the closest to the school. Someone had to be the last one and it was me. I arrived in all my glory of dropping things and arms overloaded and yarn spilling from my purse to realize that my son had not saved me a seat on the bus. On a very full bus that seemed all seats were taken. And that is how I ended up on a school bus that did not hold my son and sat next to a boy that was not my son who seemed as uncomfortable as I was that we had to share a seat together.
And then we took off on a nearly hour ride in a bus that was approximately 3o degrees hotter inside than it was out side and it was not a cold day.
Why am I going to miss field trips again?
We arrived at the zoo and I made the group that was assigned to me all use the bathroom because I had to go pee and we began our zoo adventure. My group finished all their assignments of the day in record pace. Less than an hour into a full zoo day, their work was done and they needed something to do.
“Let’s go look at the flamingos!” I suggested brightly.
I love flamingos. On my desk as I type this I am looking at a little plastic flamingo I no doubt purchased at a zoo at some point. Outside the window of the desk I am typing at I have two very old flamingos that my boys dug out of a trash heap at a tractor show and brought home to me many years ago. Those flamingos have faded to white and they only rest against a bird feeder hook anymore they are so old but I cannot bare to part with them.
When we arrived at the flamingos I was trying really hard to hold my excitement in and not doing a good job about it. I didn’t want to seem lame and have the kids I was with take my picture in front of them so I tried to sneak a selfie and sent it to my husband who responded back to me that I looked like a crazy woman and I really shouldn’t show anyone that photo.
My son, who really does know a lot about animals but was trying to be a know it all to me, asked me if I knew why the flamingos were pink. “It’s the fish they eat,” I shot back. This momma knows her stuff.
“But did you know,” he continued, because he really does know a lot about animals, “that if they didn’t eat that kind of fish they would not be pink at all but just kind of gray white?”
This made me unbelievably sad.
How could it be that something so unbelievably unique and beautiful could be dull and drab? Just by eating the wrong fish?
And it was in that moment that I was struck with another truth.
What we put in us is what shows out of us.
This went right to spiritual for me.
I wanted to be the girl who put so much Jesus in me that it shown out. The only way I can show if I am a daughter of God is if I am spending time with Him, filling myself up with His word from the Bible but also, just spending time with Him. A relationship with Jesus. I wanted a real relationship with Jesus and I wanted it to show just like if I was a pink flamingo.
I felt really strongly of this and I wanted to share it with everyone but I felt like I may have more to learn.
I thought of how drab a pink flamingo would be if it didn’t eat the right fish. And it got my creative mind wondering what would happen if you took a pink flamingo away from it’s fish and it ate and lived it’s life being drab, never knowing what it had the potential to become.
This made me sad. It kind of haunted my thoughts this summer. And the more I thought about it, the more I began to pray that God would show me what story HE had written for me. I didn’t want to fill up on what I thought was good enough when there was something that was best for me, something that would turn me from drab and dull to pink flamingo.
And really, who doesn’t love a pink flamingo? A pink flamingo just by being a pink flamingo is an icon of joy and a good time. For that reason alone I wanted to be more like a pink flamingo!
I really didn’t think there could be more to learn about the flamingo and how it paralleled my spiritual life when someone brought up going to the zoo and how bad it stinks there. My mind went immediately to the pink flamingo exhibit.
I have often heard the phrase “so spiritually minded they are no earthly good”. I have feared this happening to me.
All those flamingos together in the zoo are so cool. But you know what else they are? Stinky. They put all that food in them and then they poop it all out and it just stays there. It stays stagnant. Stinky. And it made me realize that if I am putting all the good of God that I can find and pour into myself but I don’t actually walk out and into the world but just stay in one spot and fill up and dump out in my one little spot…I may look pretty but I surely ain’t smelling pretty. And if I am not smelling pretty, it’s not going to be drawing anyone in. It is, in fact, going to push people away from me.
When I see a flock of flamingos in the zoo, they all together are so stunning. But if I saw a pink flamingo land in my back yard with all the migrating geese and sand hill cranes, I would FREAK OUT. I would want to know all the things…how it got here, if I can get it to stay, does Amazon deliver special pink flamingo fish and would the village I live in believe this pink flamingo is my therapy animal so I needed to keep it with me at all times…among other things.
The church as a whole is a beautiful thing. But a church that stays within it’s four walls, within it’s flock, isn’t. It’s stinky. Stagnant. Just like if all I do is fill myself with Jesus in my home but never pour it out into the people I come in contact with, I am just stinky.
I don’t want to be stinky. I don’t want to be drab. I want to be the pink flamingo in the way God intended me to be a pink flamingo.
This zoo visit has been sitting with me all summer long. I hope that all the things I have thought on about my trip to the zoo to see the pink flamingos is something that will encourage and inspire you as well. Because I think it’s worth contemplating. At least it was for me.
And now I am going to see if Amazon really could deliver the right fish for a pink flamingo because I may have just found the one thing Amazon does not have!
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