A brown-headed cowbird egg will always produce a cowbird, never a song sparrow. It can be a healthy, growing cowbird or a sickly one that is full of disease, but it will always be a cowbird—never a sparrow.
This is a simple thesis, you might think, but it can be very confusing in the bird world. Brown-headed cowbirds don’t build their own nests to hatch and rear their young, but parasite more than 200 other species of birds by laying an egg in their nests and pushing out one of the hosts’ eggs. And cowbirds tend to hatch earlier than their hosts, to grow faster, and to crowd out or at least to reduce the food intake of the host’s young.
So while a cowbird egg always produces a cowbird, it can be nurtured and reared by a sparrow. This sounds like an identity crisis waiting to happen.
God designed you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.Psalm 139:13, NIV
However, we often go through life wishing and trying to be someone else. We are cowbirds trying to be song sparrows. We think we can improve on God’s design by nurturing and feeding sparrow talents, when in reality a cowbird trying to warble a sparrow’s song will experience life-long frustration for both the cowbird and the sparrows who raised it. Where do our patterns of thinking and feeling, our hopes and dreams, come from?
It is crucial that you are honest with yourself about who you are and why you are that way. This kind of honesty—this agreeing with God about our faults, which the Bible calls confession—means understanding where we are in light of his standard. Once we understand where we are broken and where we fall short, we can work with God to reclaim those lost parts of his image and experience healing where we have been wounded.
1Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal Workbook, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994),
Take some time this week to journal about how God made you.
- Read and personalize Psalm 139. Sing some hymns or praise songs that are based on this Psalm.
- Do you know yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- If this proves to be hard to do or you’re not sure you can honestly make these lists, ask someone who knows and loves you to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Compare the two lists and discuss them together.
- Draw a picture of yourself—not of your face, but a picture that represents who you are. (For example, you could draw a train—because you are always on track and heading for a known destination; you set goals.) Show it to someone else so they can ask you questions about you based on the picture.
Pray with me:
Creator God, we know that You love us all absolutely, with a value that You have assigned to each of us by sending Your Son to die in our place. You declared that each one of us is worth the price. We are worthy because You made us that way; we did nothing to earn Your grace.
May we not be passive Christians, but disciples—followers in the footsteps of Christ: wild men and women, unstoppable forces of nature that bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth.
Give us your wisdom to think how Jesus thinks, to speak how Jesus speaks, and to do what Jesus does. May we live abundant, transformed lives.
In Your Son’s Name we pray, Amen.