Lessons from the Rooster: Conversation vs. Confrontation

“Think ere you speak; for Words once flown,
Once utter’d, are no more your own.”

~John Newberry

Almost 2 years ago we moved from the country to a downtown neighborhood. We have been blessed with incredibly kind neighbors. Most of them have welcomed us to the neighborhood with open arms and made our transition to city living wonderful.

This past spring, however, one of our neighbors purchased a rooster. It was supposed to be a joke between two of our neighbors. I would probably find this amusing under normal circumstances. But said rooster entered the neighborhood when every child in our family was waking at least once or twice a night. So, on average, I was up a minimum of 3 to 6 times per night. Have I mentioned I am not the nicest person when postpartum and sleep-deprived? At one point I was fairly certain I was about to curl up in a ball and die of sleep deprivation. I was also convinced the kids were plotting and organized. They coordinated beautifully. Exactly 60-90 minute intervals of waking.

Back to the rooster….

The rooster decided he preferred our yard. Especially around 5 AM in the morning. I would finally be dozing off to sleep after a long, exhausting night and suddenly be awakened by a loud crowing directly outside my bedroom window.Even white noise failed to block the incessant crowing. I couldn’t use earplugs because I had to listen for my nursing baby.

My husband graciously talked to the neighbor and explained why we needed them to contain their rooster. He even found a home for it, but at the time they seemed reluctant to see it leave.
What began as a slight irritation quickly turned into something more. I became obsessed with ridding the neighborhood of the <insert any bad word here> rooster. Finally, one morning, after sleeping around 2 hours, I chased the chicken out of our yard and wrote a note to my neighbor. It was something super tactful like , “KEEP YOUR DAMN CHICKEN OUT OF MY YARD!”
Since I could tell I was in an absolute sleep-deprived frenzy of anger, I decided to give myself time to calm down. God gently began nudging my heart. Was that really the example I wanted to give my children? Hey kids – when someone irritates you, simply dash off a profanity-laden, angry note!

I waited a few more hours and tweaked my note, “Your rooster is keeping me awake during the few precious hours I have to sleep. Please keep your stupid chicken in YOUR  yard.”

Finally, after several hours, I was able to write a kind (but honest) note to my neighbor about how frustrating it was to deal with his rooster constantly being in our yard and waking all of us. I tried to remember that the situation with the rooster was temporary, but our relationship with the neighbor was long-term. Did I want to have a conversation with him? Or did I merely want to vent my frustration?

Fortunately, he was outside when I delivered the note and we were able to have an amiable chat. Shortly after our talk the neighbor found a new home for the rooster and peace returned to our street.

The rooster issue was a much-needed reminder that I need to think long-term when I am in the midst of strong emotions. In our world of social media it is easy to speak before we think. I recently heard an amazing message by Clay Scroggins in which he posed the question: do you want a conversation or a confrontation? Often I’ve made the mistake of merely confronting instead of looking for ways to promote conversation. It’s easy to demand my rights. It takes much more time to approach someone with kindness, honesty, and grace. 

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