I watched a great blue heron in the creek behind our house yesterday. It was fun to watch her movements through the water, the S-shaped curve of her long neck that straightened out as she stood still, the bending and peering into the water as she watched for minnows that might serve as breakfast. She acted completely like a heron—not an egret or an owl, not a squirrel or a snake. She behaved exactly as she was created, carrying out her morning routine with the surety of creatures oblivious to any possibility that they could be other than what they are.
The heron was also oblivious to the spiritual lesson she taught as I watched her from my kitchen—the practice of self-acceptance. While I wouldn’t give up the self-reflective consciousness that separates humankind from the rest of the creatures on our planet, it does come with its own traps of self-doubt, self-absorption, comparing ourselves to others, and needless suffering when we question the worth of our existence. I do seek to continually grow and mature as a person, which can be propelled by experiencing some of the afore-mentioned traps, but the gift of the heron was to bring me back to simple truths. I am created by a loving God to be who I am, not someone else; I am saved by this same God through Jesus Christ, who’s love redeems my brokenness and blesses me with the Spirit who makes me so much more than I can be on my own. It’s beautiful to behold any of God’s creatures who live with that kind of acceptance and grace.