Birding (aka Bird watching), something for old people right? Wrong. Birding actually played a huge role in my newlywed life to help me heal from debilitating fear I had in my marriage commitment.
Early in my marriage, I struggled with knowing how to let go of irrational fears in my marriage and not let them control my actions (especially those toward my sweet husband). I was encouraged by a loving friend to go to a support group with her. The handful of attendees were all women coping with BIG issues in their various relationships and they were there to improve their lives and their approach to finding serenity and peace, letting go of things they could not control, and not resorting to fear, obsession, control, codependence, addiction etc–to fill a void caused by another in their life.
Almost every girl there was currently or had been subject to betrayal in her relationship and yet each one was championing change in herself for her own happiness and trying to inspire it in others. At first, I thought this group would increase my anxiety and fears, because I’d see what other women were dealing with In their relationships. But instead what I saw was women who were champions for hope and happiness for themselves by letting go of the things they could not change, and this was empowering to me.
One woman in the group, Nicole, was especially influential in my healing. Nicole was experiencing a nightmarish series of problems in her marriage and was at probably the lowest point of her life. And she mustered up the courage to ask me to go birding with her.
Her sister was challenging her to a competition of who could photograph the most species of birds in a certain time frame. Nicole loved birding, but found it hard to get out by herself, so she asked me. I wondered how someone so young was interested in something I associated with older people. But I agreed to go, excited for the opportunity to be there for her and help her in her goals to improve her own life.
Again and again we went to different beautiful locations of bird habitat that were in reasonable driving distances. As we did, I grew to love birding. I loved the challenging task of trying to capture a bird’s pose, or features in a picture before you scared it away. Then, trying to identify it among hundreds of similar species.
I found my fear held less sway on my thoughts, because I was focused on a new challenge. By focusing on little details about birds, I began to see the beauty of this magnificent life and the world around me. I also found it healing to be there for my friend who could remind me and I remind her of the healthy vs. the unhealthy way to deal with the fears and struggles we each were experiencing.
Nicole and I live far away from each other now, but we still touch bases occasionally. We ask each other about birding, but more importantly we try and remind each other of the basic wisdom we were taught in the support group and while birding together – trust in God and take the reins on what we can change, namely ourselves, our perspective, our hope. It is a great gift to be able to find creativity and beauty in the midst of confusion, fear, and darkness. It is something we must all help one another find and in doing so is one of the greatest expressions of love we can give.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Giuseppe Milo