Not that long ago, in the biggest city in the world, lived a young boy named Robby.
Growing up in a tall building with his family, Robby was loved by all. The building was filled with Robby’s, aunts, uncles and so many cousins, he couldn’t remember all their names.
Living in a comfortable apartment with his Mom, Dad and three sisters, his best friends, even when they were teasing him.
Robby truly loved everyone in his family, but his favorite was GranPa Jacob. GranPa Jacob shined love through his big beautiful blue eyes, always having a kind word and smile for anyone he met. After school, Robby would run as fast as he could to get home and hug his loving GranPa.
Robby would always find GranPa Jacob up on the roof of their apartment building, taking care of his pigeons. Jacob was a Pidgeon Fancier. Like his father, and his father, and his father’s, father’s father, Jacob raised pigeons. Before there was a city, Jacob’s family provided pigeons that carried messages near and far. For hundreds of years, before “smart phones”, these “smart birds” carried information throughout the world.
While feeding the pigeons, GranPa Jacob would tell Robby the miraculous stories of how God used the Pigeons to communicate important news as far as the East is from the West. Jacob would always tell Robby, it was the pigeons, God used to build God’s family.
No longer messengers, Jacob’s pigeons were now rented out as “Release” pigeons. When most people would see beautiful white doves fly in celebration of this or that event. They weren’t doves at all, they were lovely white pigeons trained by Robby’s GranPa.
After a few years, Granpa’s legs could no longer take him to the top of the building to care for his flock. Robby was now the Pigeon Fancier and how it made GranPa smile to hear Robby’s stories of his days with the pigeons. The gleam in Robby’s eyes always reminded GranPa of the time when he first became a pigeon fancier.
One day, Robby bounced down the stairs, hopping into the apartment gleefully yelling, “GranPa, GranPa, you’ve got to come see this!” GranPa smiled saying, “My dear Robby, GranPa just can’t climb those stairs anymore. What’s all the excitement about?” “Well, I started to feed the Pigeons just like every day, and there it was. The most beautiful White pigeon ever!” Robby exclaimed. Catching his breath, Robby continued, “Oh GranPa, this pigeon is so beautiful! It’s big and its feathers are whiter than GranMa’s best sheets. It’s truly the most beautiful bird ever!”
GranPa smiled saying, “Now, take really good care of that beautiful bird Robby. One day we’ll have you bring it down for all of us to see.”
A few days later GranPa heard sobbing coming from the stairs. Walking over to investigate, there was Robby, sitting on the stairs. Robby could hardly speak as he blurted out,
“He’s dying GranPa. My beautiful pigeon is dying!”
“There, there Robby, I’m sure he will be okay” GranPa said with a hug and a comforting smile.
“You don’t understand, he won’t move, he looks awful!” Robby sobbed.
“Well, let’s go see what’s going on with this little guy.” GranPa said as he started up the stairs.
“GranPa, your legs?” Out of breath,
GranPa whispered, “Robby, some things are worth a little pain.”
Opening the door, seeing the little bird in a lump next to his perch. GranPa said with a twinkle in his eye. “Robby, your beautiful Pigeon is no Pigeon at all. It’s a Dove.”
“I’m no bird doctor Robby, but I do know Pigeons, and they love Comfort; while Dove’s love freedom.” Explaining the differences between Pigeons and Doves, GranPa went on…
“You see Robby, Pigeons depend on us for their food and comfort. It is our job to take care of the pigeons. We have worked to know what the Pigeon’s need. Sometimes, better than they do. We help them and feed them and provide a Pigeonhole that is just right for them.”
“Doves are not like Pigeons, they need freedom. Freedom is not something we can give; it can only be taken away. To truly take care of all birds, Pigeons and Doves, first we must understand their needs. Our job is to provide what they need when they need it. We are to serve the Pigeons and Doves, help them when we can. Like with your beautiful bird, sometimes without understanding their individual needs, we force what we believe is best on a Dove by mistake. The same Pigeonhole that gives comfort to Pigeons, will Kill the Dove. It is only when we give the Dove what it needs, Freedom, that the Dove will thrive and prosper. You see Robby, a Dove that is genuinely loved, always returns home.”
The Moral of the Story….
Empathy – Savior or Servant?
Without taking time to understand one another; before we seek to be understood, we can hurt loved ones while believing we are helping them. Empathy is not sympathy, nor feeling sorry for others. By working to understand someone first, we can then respond to their specific needs. With love, we must follow Christ’s example to help others at the level of their needs, not our opinion of their needs. It is when we understand and meet the needs of those we serve, we are loving others as Jesus first loved us.